YOU might have noticed a photograph on social media of Chairman Colin McKendry and Club Pastor, Rev. Robert McMullan pictured with Gary Tasker prior to the fixture against Dungannon Swifts…
By: Aaron O’Neill
We said at the time that Gary will hope to take Coleraine to the next level off the field of play and Aaron O’Neill caught up with the Yorkshireman to discuss his plans at The Showgrounds.
Gary comes highly recommended and he is set to help the Stripes progress in certain aspects of the club, such as the overall match day experience, to the next level. Having spent 30 years involved with sport at the highest level, he is no stranger to hard work. The ethos of supporting local clubs rings true with Gary, who has been on the terraces on the Ballycastle Road for a number of years.
Before he settled down with his wife and family in Ballymoney, Gary spent 20 years at Bradford Bulls when they were the flagship club for Super League. He worked his way through the ranks to become the General Manager at the club.
A career change saw Gary move in a different direction at the turn of the millennium following 11 years with the Bulls. He made a successful switch to pastures new, joining Super League (Europe) Ltd in 2000. Gary went on to become the Rugby Football League’s Director of Community Development after he introduced a very successful community programme which he had developed during his time at the Bradford Bulls, something that he seems keen to introduce at Coleraine in the near future.
He said: “I worked a lot in rugby but I was a Bradford City Football Club season ticket holder and I have always loved my football.
“When I first started at my home town club it was similar to Coleraine is now because it was a part-time club, the lads trained after work and then played after that.
“It’s a small community here and word got around that I was living locally so I met with Colin (McKendry) and the board and I offered my services to them and since then I have taken a club representative over to Headingley and Rochdale to let them see how things are done over there.
“Initially, I have suggested that we do a two month review. In that period we will assess what is possible and look at how we can improve by speaking to existing stakeholders around the club and try to work through in what we can do moving forward.
“Overall for me, the club has been through a lot in 15 years or so because there has been crisis meetings where nobody knew what was happening, cup finals and a lot of changes so it has been a bit of a rollercoaster.
“You can see a real sense of stability now and I can tell from meeting the Board of Directors that they are committed to the club.”
Gary arranged for Board of Director, Simon Magee, to make the trip to England to take in a few matches at different clubs in order to get a flavour for how professional clubs go about their business and to give an indication of how the professional side differs to that of the Irish League.
“It was a great experience to go over and visit the clubs because it allowed us to have a look around to see what what these clubs do differently,” Magee said.
“I was a guest of the Directors at Catalan Dragons so I visited Headingley for the game against Leeds Rhinos and I met their foundation manager which was great.
“Niel Wood who is a Director at Catalan Dragons set up meetings with Rochdale FC and Rochdale Hornets rugby league side and I went along to meet the club representatives at those clubs aswell.
“I enjoyed it and Niel was a great host and the trip let me see the positive impact community projects have on clubs, corporate hospitality is a huge market which is an integral part of the club and hopefully we can introduce similar models at Coleraine FC
Coleraine FC Chairman Colin McKendry says that Gary Tasker will be a welcomed addition to the club.
“Gary is a guy that we have spoken to and I have no doubt that his knowledge can help influence the community aspect of the club, he concluded.
“We are aiming to raise the profile of the club by working with schools and youth groups so, as a club, we were keen to bring Gary onboard and we appreciate the work he is trying to do.
“It has been a summer of change for Coleraine FC but now it is about moving the club forward as a collective and we feel that Gary can help us achieve that given his vast experience and previous involvement with clubs at the highest level.”