Shock exits for coaches

Oliver Vrtkovski.
Oliver Vrtkovski.

Youth grade coaches at Wollongong United and Woonona will remain in charge in the interim after both clubs parted ways with their respective first grade incumbents.

In a shock move, United’s Oliver Vrtkovski stepped down following his side’s 1-0 loss to Picton Rangers last week before Geoff Foster’s tenure at the struggling Sharks ended on Sunday night.

Vrtkovski has been one of the competition’s coaching mainstays at the helm of United over the past four seasons. He guided the club to grand final win in 2015 and back-to-back Bert Bampton Cup titles in 2014-15 as well as tasting success in the Fraternity Cup.

This season United have failed to find momentum since winning the preseason tournament, but remain just a win outside the top-five.

United declined to make a comment on Vrtkovski’s departure, but confirmed youth grade coach Zivko Jovanovski would remain in charge for the remainder of the 2017 campaign. Jovanovski has already had a stint at the helm of the first grade team back in 2007 and has spent several seasons coaching youth grade at the club.

He was on-deck for United’s 2-1 loss to Albion Park White Eagles on Saturday and will have a full week to prepare for Saturday’s blockbuster clash with Port Kembla at Wetherall Park.

Meanwhile, Foster and Woonona parted ways less than 24 hours before their Bert Bampton Cup match against Park on Monday. Foster only took over at the club at the beginning of the 2017 campaign and has struggled to build a platfrom at the Sharks.

Woonona are last in the league, with just one win and one draw through 11 rounds.

“We are disappointed with the outcome but wish him all the best for his coaching career from this point on,” a club spokesperson said of the departure.

“Obviously it has been a difficult season for us so far, but we just have to focus on getting points on the board.”

Youth grade coach Jason Michlmayr stepped in for Monday’s 4-3 Cup loss and he will remain in the position when the Sharks travel to face Bulli at Balls Paddock on Saturday. He will be assisted by Michael Dorrian.

Vrtkovski and Foster were the second and third coaches to depart after Corrimal Rangers and coach John Fleming ended their association within the first two months of the season. Fleming was replaced by Gavin O’Brien. 

CHANGE AT THE TOP: Woonona's Luke McOsger and Albion Park's Vaughan Paterson at Ocean Park. Picture: Robert Peet

CHANGE AT THE TOP: Woonona's Luke McOsger and Albion Park's Vaughan Paterson at Ocean Park. Picture: Robert Peet

Both Foster and Vrtkovski were contacted by the Illawarra Mercury for comment.