McCulloch reflects on the season

McCulloch reflects on the season

Posted on October 7, 2016 in 'News'

It’s been a fantastic 2016 season for ECU Joondalup SC and Coach Dale McCulloch, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, sat down to chat to the website on the season and to thank everyone involved.

PS – Well Dale the end of the season and we were so close to the title?

DM – Thanks Pete, yes we gave it a good crack, but penalty shoot-outs are a lottery and unfortunately we couldn’t finish it off. We gave it our all, and the character we have in our squad almost got us over the line, but it wasn’t to be.

PS – The start of the season wasn’t the best, and with the club investing a lot, was it a worrying time for you?

DM – Not really, I was always confident we could be competitive, and we assembled a new look squad and we thought we were ready for a big season, but it didn’t go to plan. We had a very young squad and due to injuries and suspensions we had to bring in a number of young players all at once and in hindsight it wasn’t ideal. These lads are quality players and will be good players for us over the next few years, but we probably brought in to many at the same time and we were overrun in a few games, but they will learn from that.

PS – The second half of the league season was magnificent, going 14 games unbeaten and we played some good football along the way, and we came home like a steam train.

DM – Me and the Coaches sat down and pinpointed were we wanted to improve and the committee back me by signing players in the transfer window. Like I said I was always confident and the squad were very talented and we worked extremely hard during our dip in form and it was only a matter of time we would turn it around and boy we did.

PS – What game was the highlight for you and which game do you think was the game that turned your season around?

DM – The home win against Inglewood United was massive for us. It really kick started our season and we pushed on from there. It was a great performance we defended superbly and scored a couple of good goals and ran out well-deserved winners. The win against Bayswater City on the road was probably my highlight. Taking on the league Champions on their patch and coming home with a 3-0 win to take us into the top four it was great day for the club, but we went in with a game plan and the players were superb.

PS – What was the low light for you in the season?

DM – The loss at home to Balcatta was really hard to take, I didn’t see that coming. To concede six goals at home isn’t what we expected, and there was a lot of soul searching after that game. We knew we were better than that, and we were determined to hit back and we did.

PS – We signed Gordon Smith to bring us goals and he never let you down?

DM – It was a gamble for us, and it always is when you bring in an import.  Willie Herd said he would be a perfect fit for us and he would score goals, and he was right. He finished with 19 goals, and could have scored 30, but he was fantastic on and off the pitch, and we wish him a speedy recovery from his injury.

PS – Another player to shine was your skipper Ryan Lowry, whose form has been rewarded with an A-League contract with Wellington Phoenix?

DM – Paddy was superb and he deserves he chance to play in the A-League. I said he was good enough to play in the competition, and he showed it when he was one of the best on the park against Perth Glory for the WA State Team. He’s a quiet lad on the park but he lets his football do the talking, and everyone at the club wishes him all the best in the future.

PS – It was a good season for the 18’s and 20’s too, both finished off well?

DM – We finished second in the overall NPL league table, which bodes well for the club. Both Paul and Howard worked extremely hard to bring on players and both sides played some good football. I watched every game during the season and we have some talented players coming through the system, and I want them to know they are part of the clubs future. We introduced a number of the 20’s players to the first team set-up during the season and they will be better for it, we hope they return ready for a big 2017 and push for a spot in the first team. Congratulations to Howard and the players for reaching the State League Reserves Cup Final, and to Paul and John for reaching the Top four finals, like I said it was an outstanding season for the club.

PS – So has the misses got a list of jobs for you to do in the off-season?

DM – Ha, ha – I think so. We’ll all have a bit of time away from the club but we’ve spoken at length about next season already and pinpointed players we want to bring into the club to strengthen us. It’s been a huge improvement, but we haven’t won anything, and like I said at the presentation night, next season we want to be celebrating at the end of 2017 with a trophy or two, and I’ll be doing all I can to achieve that.

PS – Thanks Dale, enjoy the short break and good luck for next season.

DM – Thanks Peter – I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club for their work during the season. My assistants David Tough, Steven McGarry and Mark Scanlon, physio Regan Arrigoni, Keeper Coach Andy Petterson and Team Manager Jesse Hesford. To you Peter – thanks for your work with the website and all the media at the club, I appreciate everything you’ve done, and it’s been great working with you. To the hard working committee thank you for backing my again this season, and finally to the players, who worked extremely hard to bring success to the club and will be doing the same next season – See you then.