The aim is to make City a top-four, title-challenging sideRoger Hardwicke
He may have travelled to the opposite side of the planet, but Englishman Roger Hardwicke believes becoming Launceston City head coach was something of a home-coming.
"I'm from Cornwall so it's strangely familiar coming here because I'm used to another Launceston - although we pronounce it differently - the Tamar is the river you cross to leave Cornwall and even a name like Trevallyn is probably Cornish because Tre means house of someone," he said.
"There are so many Cornish place names in Tasmania."
And the 52-year-old father-of-three has another connection to his new club.
City was founded in 1957 at the South Launceston home of Matteo Stossich whose grandson is a work colleague of Hardwicke's at the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
"It really is a small world and was obviously meant to be," he added.
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Quirky connections aside, Hardwicke is focused on the job in hand at Prospect with a return to the club's halcyon days top of the agenda.
"We are not here to make up the numbers. Everyone was disappointed with last season and the main aim is to change that.
"We are certainly not an affluent club so we try and do the best we can with the resources we've got and want to be punching above our weight.
"Devonport, South Hobart and Olympia are the benchmark sides and we want to be up there competing with them.
"It might not happen overnight but the aim is to make City a top-four, title-challenging side. That's my vision, and my job is to make that happen."
Hardwicke's life journey has spanned the surfing meccas of Cornwall and Queensland via the soccer hotbed of London.
Born in St Austell and growing up in picturesque Fowey, he went to Kingston University before moving to Queensland in 1989.
He joined Kawana in the Sunshine Coast league and after losing in their first ever grand final appearance in 1992 returned in 1997 to win their inaugural premiership. Since then, Kawana have been the region's most successful club, winning eight grand finals, minor premierships and multiple cups.
Hardwicke became player-coach from 2009 and after acquiring Football Federation Australia C and B licences, he moved to coach Pine Hills in Brisbane in 2015 before progressing up to Sunshine Coast Fire in NPL Queensland in 2017.
After moving to Tasmania last year, he emailed NPL Tasmania clubs Launceston City and Riverside and after discussing his football philosophy with the Prospect club was announced as the replacement for Lino Sciulli, on a two-year contract.
"It's gone really well. The club has been very welcoming," said the IT consultant whose support of Manchester City pre-dates their current golden era.
"Instead of the two-hour commute I had from Brisbane, it's five minutes here and enables me to fit work and football in.
"Everybody seems to be on board and working hard to try and get a competitive side this year."
Hardwicke has wasted no time getting up to speed with his players and what they are up against.
Eager to improve on last season's seventh-placed finish, he has supplemented a squad featuring such NPL regulars as Noah Mies, Jarrod Linger and Lachy Clark with Launceston United's dynamic young goal-scorer Yasin Mohammadi plus two fellow countrymen from Derbyshire.
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Sam Ridgard, an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, will become City's captain while Louis Anthony is a technically-gifted centre back. Both university graduates, they were previously teammates with Belper United in England's East Midlands Counties League.
"The NPL is very well covered online and in local papers so before I met with the club I had watched four or five games to get a feel for how they were playing," Hardwicke said.
"With Clarence and Zebras' amalgamation, there are no easy games in NPL. Everyone is at a certain standard and because it is the highest level of football in Tasmania the elite players are here and that's great.
"If you are not prepared and ready to play in this league, you are going to get punished.
"I did a couple of sessions before Christmas and we're now well into pre-season and I'm really encouraged with how quickly players are adapting to what I'm asking them to do. We are lucky to have some good home-grown talented players and now some good imports to bolster that. The two lads from Derby have made a huge difference.
"I like playing an attacking philosophy with the aim to score goals and entertain. That is what we will try to do but we've got to work as hard in defence as attack and make ourselves tough to beat.
"If teams are going to beat us they need to earn any points they are going to get."
Meanwhile, this City coach's philosophy for the future is straight from the Pep Guardiola manual.
"I'm not here to be here, I'm here to do something. I don't want the club to just stay where it is, I want to take it forward to where it wants to be and that's going to take a lot of hard work and effort and getting players to know that there are no short cuts.
"Talent only gets you so far and at the pointy end everyone is talented so it is the other things that make the difference. How hard do we chase back or run off the ball to create space? They are the intangibles that make the difference between a mediocre side and a top side."
City kick-off their season at home to Kingborough on March 21.
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