The 2017 Hamilton Wanderers Premier league team will feature a new man at the helm, Vladislav (Vladi) Frank, who has taken the reins of the winter Premier league side.
USSR-born Frank is no stranger to Porritt Stadium having arrived at the club in 2007. His arrival was fairly low key, electing to play outfield for the first team before an eagle-eyed club member spotted a mention of Frank which revealed he had enjoyed a professional goalkeeping career in Europe as a top glovesman.
Frank laughs. "I had suffered injuries playing in Europe and by my 30's the doctors told me my body was broken and I couldn't play in goal again, so when I came to New Zealand I played outfield. They didn't say I couldn't actually play anymore."
As understated as a smooth vodka, Frank is not one to boast of his past glories he is a modest fellow. But his craft was honed in a high pressure environment. East European football leagues are no place for lightweights, here you need to be as tough and uncompromising as the Siberian winter to ply your trade.
As a teenager Vladi played under 15 to under 19 representative football as a goalkeeper for Uzbekistan. He was sixteen when he joined his first professional club FK Andijan. He subsequently transferred to other professional Uzbekistan clubs including FK Schachrichan and FC Neftchi Fergana who played in the second tier of football in the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Vladi and his family moved to Germany where he played for several clubs including SGV Freiberg.
In New Zealand, at Wanderers, once Frank has been outed he was quickly seconded back into goalie duty and his past injuries seemed behind him. Ostensibly a back up to younger keepers but invariably became the go-to guy when a dependable stopper was needed. As late as 2014 and into his 40’s, Frank was still the first choice keeper at Wanderers and rated by many as the best custodian in the league
His coaching career has been on a gradual rise as his playing days diminished. Over the last few years Frank has coached Wanderers youth teams, the reserve side and had a brief spell back in Germany in 2015 as the youth coach for his old SGV Freiberg club.
Frank is out to improve on a disappointing Wanderers 2015 Premier season, when injuries and suspensions led to a lower half finish after a fine 2nd place in 2014. Frank knows, that with Wanderers being the only Waikato Bay of Plenty representative in the Premier league, there is a responsibility to be competitive. “We will be looking to ensure that the Auckland teams respect us at home and fear us away.”
The 2017 squad should start with the nucleus of the Cossey team with Frank looking to boost his side with both home-grown players and a new signing or two. He is hugely supportive of the football culture that has been put in place at Wanderers over the last few years.
“We have a great youth program here” Frank says. “Our under-20 based reserve team won the 2014 Premier reserve league and were second last year, proof that our elite program is attracting the best young players in the region.”
Frank’s team are noted for attacking fast football but with a steel backbone. High standards will be expected and the backline should be as solid as the Berlin wall (before it was knocked down of course!), and a strike force with attacking flair. He wants to encourage spectators to Porritt to support the boys in blue. “Our team will be tough but we want be entertaining as well. We look forward to seeing you here for the first game next season!”
Club Chairman, Brendon Coker said “these are exciting times for the club as we continue to build on our success over the past few years. We are Waikato’s elite football club representing the region in the Stirling Sport National Football League and we are the only Waikato Team in the Northern League Premier Division for both Men and Women. The club is in great shape but we must continue to evolve and we are delighted to announce Vladi as our Head Coach for the upcoming Northern League Premier season.”
Vladi is a well-respected coach within the football community. Vladi is a long standing Wanderers member and you will see an exciting brand of football under his leadership.