Key players sign on for Coastal Spirit

Coastal Spirit’s Dominic McGarr (left) and goalkeeper Ellis Hare-Reid combine to tackle Declan...
Coastal Spirit’s Dominic McGarr (left) and goalkeeper Ellis Hare-Reid combine to tackle Declan Tyndall of Cashmere Technical. PHOTO: MITCHELL COZZONE/DUST MEDIA
Coastal Spirit have locked up four key players ahead of the Southern League season.

Winger Liam Cotter, who top-scored for Coastal last year with eight goals, joined captain Dominic McGarr, goalkeeper Ellis Hare-Reid and midfielder Joe Hoole in staying with the club in 2024.

Head coach Robbie Stanton said it was important to have them confirmed.

“They were the core of last year’s team, and that stability is going to be vital for us going forward this year.”

Coastal finished last season in third place - the best team aside from regular Southern League table-toppers Christchurch United and Cashmere Technical.

The top two teams at the end of the Southern League season, encompassing teams from the South Island, qualify for the National League against the best from across the country.

After missing out last year, Stanton wants Coastal to be pushing for that level in 2024.

“In all honesty, our goal this year is to play National League and that’s what we’re gearing ourselves up to do,” he said.

“The quality of players we’re bringing in probably makes that statement in itself, the majority of them have played National League, or the equivalent of.”

Stanton said Coastal have acquired Cashmere Tech’s captain Andrew Storer and Christchurch United midfielder Mason Stearn – both of whom featured in last season’s National League.

The Ferrymead Bays duo of Alex Macleam and Ryan Stanley have also joined Coastal for the season.

Stanton said the team’s pre-season has been ‘disjointed’ so far, but the team should improve quickly.

“A lot of players are coming in from out of town, so that’s made a little bit of a soft start.

“But pretty much from this week onwards, everyone’s in town, we’re getting them all into Christchurch and getting them bedded down into the training regime.”

He said the core group from last year would be important in integrating the new players.

“Them seeing the platform that we had last year, in terms of the commitment the players are giving to what we’re doing, will be huge this year.

“The squad is really excited, and the club is backing us with everything we need off the pitch to try and make that work.”

Stanton said some key pre-season friendlies are already confirmed to help the team gel together.

“We’ve got pre-season games against Burwood, Christchurch United and Nomads already booked in, and a couple other ones that are tentatively booked in at the moment.”

Coastal Spirit’s Southern League season will kick off on March 30.