Football: United coach gives himself a red card

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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After five years at the wheel, Neil Rush has stepped down from a bustling spell as head coach of Rotorua United.

Rush was the inaugural coach of the Rotorua United first team when the club was established in 2007.

During his coaching career, the well-known personality won the Federation Shield twice, finished one point off the Federation One title, and has been shown a red card five times for his input from the sideline.

"The best thing about [coaching] was just involvement with the team. You can't beat it, specially when you can't play," he said.

Rush took a break from the top coaching position in 2009, because his third child Adam was on the way, after which he famously returned in 2010 to help out the club. "The coach for that year pulled out two weeks before the season started so I decided to come back and coach.

"That was the year we came second. We won 12 games in a row and missed out by one point against Claudelands."

He said his choice to stand down as United's head coach was simply to bring some fresh ideas to the club.

"I think the team needs a new face. It needs someone different with different ideas," he said. "I might go back to coaching one day, but we'll see."

His role as coach followed on from a long playing career which included top-flight football in Christchurch, Auckland and Rotorua - where he represented Ngongotaha Football Club.

Rush, who was well known for his flair and passion on the sidelines and in the sheds, said his involvement at the club would continue next year when he hoped to return to the glory days of playing. He said jokingly it was hard to see how well that would go after a disastrous run earlier in the week.

Rush thanked his long-term manager Sue Hunter for her support throughout his five years as coach, and thanked his players, many of whom were with him for most of that time. "Sue was with me all the way. She has been my manager and I couldn't have done anything without her."

Rotorua United AFC committee is now asking for registrations of interest for the position of first team coach. To be considered, contact Ray Wells on (027) 272 2312 or ray.wells@rotoruaunited.co.nz for a detailed job description. Applications close November 30.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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