Steep learning curve for Fire players, coach
HIS outfit may be the Sunshine Coast's first to miss the state league finals since the club's foundation in 2007 but in a strange sort of way, coach Kevin A'herne-Evans has "loved" every minute of the testing 2014 campaign.
The Fire was yesterday forced to settle for a 0-0 draw with Northern Fury in a dour round 24 National Premier League (Queensland) struggle on a sodden pitch at Kawana where the host's ever-so-slim playoffs hopes were finally ended.
His team's eighth placing is a far cry from the glory days of 2008-12 when the club claimed multiple premierships and championships.
It's even a big change from last year - A'herne Evans' first in charge - when the team finished third.
But the aspiring coach has probably learned more this time around with young, raw players in his ranks.
"I love coaching, especially this year," he said.
"It sounds crazy because of the high quality players I had at my disposal last year but the way we've had to build a squad and mould a team this year and then try to get results has been great.
"It's been a tough year in regards to getting results but you can see we've improved, particularly as a defensive unit."
The Fire had been leaking three to four goals per game but now boasts the fifth-best defensive record in the 13-team competition.
It's not yet known whether A'herne-Evans (pictured) will be granted the head coaching role again next season or whether he will instead be appointed technical director.
But it's clear the 33-year-old wants to forge a coaching career.
"I've still got a lot of learning to do as a coach but that's part of the fun," he said
"If I'm fortunate to be in this environment for the next five to seven years, coaching in this league, then I'll have eight years behind me as a coach and I can possibly start going through the system."
He is doing his A licence and is set to do his pro licence, which could take four to five years.
"Your knowledge base obviously increases every game. I'm only 33 and I've got such a long way to go as a coach," he said.
Yesterday, he pitted his skills, and his players', against Fury mentor Ian Ferguson, an iconic ex-Scotland midfielder and former A-League coach who took Perth to the grand final.
"Just putting yourself up against people like Ferguson, that alone challenges you," he said.
For A'herne-Evans, the experience was a pleasure.
As a youngster who grew up in Wales and as an emerging footballer at Leeds in the 90s, he had idolised Ferguson, who was then a hero for Rangers, during the club's golden era.
"He is a football legend. He is royalty," A'herne-Evans said.
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