New coach on road to title glory
IT'S just as well new Ipswich Knights head coach Ashley Hempstead is a football journeyman.
He's going to be clocking up a lot of kilometres in coming months travelling from his Albany Creek home to the Knights Bundamba base.
However, with assistants Mitch Cattermole and Noel Flynn joining him in Division 1 next year, Hempstead hopes to bring his successful record to Ipswich.
"Out of 13 years possible where you can get promoted, I think I've got seven," said the coach with 20 years experience.
"I've had a bit of luck and you need luck."
With the Knights coming within one point of promotion to Premier League last season, Hempstead knows he has a talented side to work with.
"That's the first thing I want to do - make sure that all the players stay," he said.
"They played for the club this year when the club was under pressures with the floods and finances. And they're going to come back next year. That tells me that they've got the club at heart.
"In Brisbane now, a lot of players just go from club to club."
While he's keen to build on what the club has, Hempstead has already secured talented midfield/striker Ricky Fulton for next season.
Ipswich-based Fulton played for Hempstead at Pine Hills and The Gap previously.
"One of the things that coaches sometimes forget is they rush in and get all these new players from elsewhere," he said.
"I'll be adding a couple of players, ie Ricky, and a couple of young promising players.
"There'll be no big superstars going out there."
Hempstead also wants to work with juniors.
"I'm impressed the way the club is set up," Hempstead said, wary of the financial pressure on football organisations.
"There's a couple of clubs around Brisbane who do spend a lot of money.
"I was impressed with the way the Knights were quite happy to promote their locals within and not spend bucket loads of dollars, because it's not there."
Hempstead has enjoyed a long association with his assistant coaches Cattermole and Flynn.
Coorparoo-based Cattermole and Hempstead worked together for eight years, including the stint helping Pine Hills gain promotion to Premier League.
Flynn, who lives at Slacks Creek, has links to Hempstead through Brisbane teams over the past five years.
Hempstead said one appeal of the 2012 coaching arrangement was sharing the workload.
"The reason I've got two blokes to help me is because it's getting a hard job now," he said. "A lot of your work is before you even get out on the training pitch.
"I've worked with these guys before and they know where I stand. They are very good."
Hempstead hopes to start training in the first week of January.
Knights goalkeeping coach Craig Reimers is expected to remain at the club next season.
Knights officials are yet to name a Reserve grade coach.