Sport

Patron on mission to expand regional Pride

NET GAINS: Western Pride patron Gary Wilkins is excited about the opportunity to help a club from his home city produce players for higher level competition.
NET GAINS: Western Pride patron Gary Wilkins is excited about the opportunity to help a club from his home city produce players for higher level competition. David Nielsen

WESTERN Pride Football Club patron Gary Wilkins is tailor made for the job.

Having helped establish the Roar A-League franchise in 2005, he knows what it takes to build a successful club.

"I learnt a lot from the Roar," Wilkins said, "chuffed" to be involved with the Pride.

"I hope to help this club now and in the future as things develop.

"Most of the other teams have got finance behind them and I'm hoping to help change that situation too."

Wilkins, who turned 68 last week, is prepared to help Pride in any way he can.

That includes chasing sponsorship and working with corporate people in strengthening the National Premier League club servicing the western corridor.

Born and bred in the city, the former national player and Brisbane Roar deputy chairman has a fine reputation as a footballer and in administration.

He's been called the "Godfather" of the Queensland Roar (later renamed Brisbane Roar). He was also with the Queensland Lions for 49 years, becoming chairman at that club.

But due to limited opportunities in his playing days with the Redbank Seekers, Wilkins moved to Brisbane Hollandia to further his career.

Between 1967 and 1974, the central midfielder went on to become Queensland's most capped player with 35 matches, 34 as captain.

He also represented Australia 22 times as a fullback, later being inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame.

Always proud of his Ipswich origins, Wilkins is thrilled the situation is changing for elite regional players.

"It's great to have the club here now," he said.

"You don't need to move now because we have a top side here. And hopefully we can attract some players from down the other way."

Having seen all Pride's home games this season, Wilkins has been impressed with the local talent on show.

However, Wilkins said the club needed to attract some marquee players as it continues its development.

"It all takes a bit of time but as everybody knows, Roar won two grand finals and a premiership," he said.

"The basis is there (at Pride). There's no doubt about that.

"We just need now to get some finance and get a couple of players, and I don't mean half a team.

"We only need two key players with experience. Bring them with the young boys we've got now and the club will grow."

Meanwhile, Western Pride coach Kasey Wehrman expects his team to chase three points in tomorrow's National Premier League game at Bundamba.

Western Pride tackle Far North Queensland at Eric Evans Reserve at a rescheduled time of 2.45pm.

"Things on the training front are going really well. We're starting to build into games," Wehrman said.

"I wouldn't expect anything less than three points this weekend.

"I'll be demanding and expecting that we go out there with an attitude that we should win this game in our home area."

Topics:  kasey wehrman national premier league western pride football club