W-League: Newcastle Jets boss Lawrie McKinna full of praise for coach Craig Deans

Even if Newcastle’s W-League side missed the finals, Jetschief executive Lawrie McKinna would have ratedcoach Craig Deans’ work this season as“amazing”.
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STARRING ROLE: Newcastle Jets boss Craig Deans was W-League coach of the year in 2015-16 and could well win the award again this season. Picture: AAP

And if the former Jets A-League assistant and interimcoach wants the job again next year, McKinna says it’s his.

In his third campaign as W-League coach, Deans has steered Newcastle to the finals for the first time since the competition’s inaugural season of 2008-09.The Jets sealed a top-four place with a 5-1 victory over Canberra on Sunday and play Melbourne City in the final round on Saturday night at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The play-off spot has also come in the team’s first season under the management and backing of the Martin Lee-owned Jets club.

McKinna said Deans’ work in assembling the squad during the change from Northern NSW Football to Jets’ control has been instrumentalin this season’s success and he hoped to have him in charge againnext season.

“If Deansy wants the job, he’s got it,” McKinna said.

“It’s as simple as that.

“To be fair, it’s been a one-man band. When we took over, Deansy had done all the player recruitment. He’d done an amazing job at the start of the season to get them all on board. Obviously we gave him back-up with signing and looking after the players, but it was Deansy who’s done an amazing job.

“And that is regardless of being in the finals or not. If he hadn’t made the finals, he wouldstill have done an amazing job.

“His staff came on board right at the end, but Deansy deserves all the credit.”

McKinna said the Jets had great support from Newcastle City Council, the Greater Bank and NNSWF to recruit the likes of Emily Van Egmond but “Deansy was at the forefront”.

“It’s been a long while and they just missed out last year, but it’s just great for the club and for Newcastle that ourW-League team is going to be in the finals,” he said.

In 2008-09, Matildas stars Cheryl Salisbury, Katie Gill and Joey Peters were part of a squad that finished second then lost 1-0 to Canberra in asemi-finalat McDonald Jones Stadium.

Newcastle willfinish second again and host a grand final qualifier if they defeat City and Sydney do not beat Western Sydney on Sunday.McKinna said McDonald Jones Stadium and No.2 Sportsground were potential venues for a home semi.

The Jets have made No.2 Sportsground their training base this season and also played one game, a 2-1 loss to Canberra, at the venue.After Saturday night, their remaining five home matches will have been at McDonald Jones Stadium as double-headers with the A-League side.

McKinna said the stadium, which would be used partially,was available for the finals weekend andcost was not a factor.

”They’ve played at No.2 and got 1200-1300 for the stand-alone game, which was good,” he said.“And obviously we get good crowds for the double headers, compared to some other teams, so we’ll actually put it to the girls, ‘where would you prefer to play a final?’”

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Samurai Beach Bungalows: 25 years of making manana better

Hands on: Sandy Munday cleaning the pool at Samarai Beach Bungalows. Pictures: Max Mason-HubersTwenty-five years ago, Sandy and Mark Munday, then in their late 20s, built a house for themselves in the Port Stephens area. Then the Mundaysleft and travelled around the world for the next 10 months.
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The trip was supposedly their last for a while, as when they returned they would build a few bungalows and start a small hostel business.

“We came back engaged,” Mark says. “We had our honeymoon before the wedding.”

Now, the bustling hostel in the bush is called Samurai Beach Bungalows, and since its inception, it’s been a place for backpackers and tourists from all walks of life to visit, andreturn to over and over.

The Hunter Tourism award-winning hostel just had their best January yet, and they’ve been mentioned in Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and German and French tourism guide books. Their occupancy rate thissummer is 86 per centand thewhole facility gets booked out several weekends a year for family and social groups.

A huge long-haired German shepherd named Bo can be spotted lounging around their small rainforest, along with kookaburras, tawny frogmouths, brush turkeys, possums, blue-tongued lizards and maybe a koala if you’re lucky.

Next to their reception and home is a lagoon-style saltwater pool. Nearby, nature activities are abundant, ranging from hiking to surfing to whale-watching.

On the map: Mark and Sandy Munday, owners of Samurai Beach Bungalows, an award-winning hostel mentioned in Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and German and French tourism guide books.

Unlike many accommodations in the Port Stephens area, this small habitat in Anna Bay was built for travellers, by travellers, with a design that encourages group interactions and communal mingling.

“Our catchphrase is ‘a touch of Asia in ’,” Sandy says. “People come in here and it’s a rainforest, its own eco-system, especially if they’re coming out of a mass-produced dorm room from Sydney where no one talks to you. There, it’s ‘here’s your number and key’. Here, we walk them to their room, and we know everybody by their first name.”

The bungalows built on three-and-a-half acres hold up to 31 guests. The Mundaysfirst built rooms One, Two, Three and Four. Later,they addedprivate rooms and even two cabins with an ensuite bathroom.

A large, covered bush kitchen complete with a massive barbecue sits in the middle of the accommodation, a great place for communal meals. The fire pit is perfect for a weekly campfire/pizza night where guests regularly swap stories.

INSPIRATIONThe vibe and design of their hostel was inspired based on the Mundays’ travels through Asia and Guatemala. They visited places in Thailand and Indonesia where the accommodation had high fences surrounding it to have total view control. Similarly, at Samurai, all the bungalows sit in a bit of a circle, facing inwards towards the trees and each other. This arrangements alsohelps minimize noise from the exterior.

Guatemala was the other location of inspiration for the Mundays. They visited fincas (farms) where they’d chill, sit around with other people and chat.

In Guatemala they stayed in treehouses and lounged hammocks. Structurally, Samurai is not the same, but a similar atmosphere is what they aim to create with a chilled, laid-back nature base.

“Guatemala is where we got the name ‘manana syndrome’,” Mark says.

Manana means “tomorrow”in Spanish. Onthe farms the Mundays wouldask their fellow travellers when they were leaving, and if theyresponded “manana”, theyknew they were having a good time.

“You want to make them feel welcome and at home. It’s the manana syndrome;you know you’ve done a good job when people want to stay another day,” Sandy says.

“I’ll spend 10 or 20 minutes checking someone in, because I want people to feel comfortable.”

“We like small places,” Mark says. “If someone walks past, it’s ‘how ya going, Frederic’, you remember people’s names.”

“It’s small enough to remember them when they come back,” he says.

The secret of success: “You want to make them feel welcome and at home,” says Sandy Munday. “It’s the manana syndrome; you know you’ve done a good job when people want to stay another day.”

The Mundays have many returning guests. Mark recalls a man named Roger who was Swiss and had a very distinct voice. Roger came back to Samurai two years later and before Mark had a chance to look up from the front desk, he heard Roger’s voice and greeted him by name.

The family vibe spills from professional to personal as well. Guests will occasionally have opportunities to volunteer on the property in exchange for accommodation. The Mundays refer to them as their “international children”.

At the time of writing they have a couple from South Africa volunteering at Samurai, and an American woman just left. These volunteers sometimes stay for a while, helping out with gardening, cleaning, and leading guest activities.

In exchange for their hospitality, the Mundays often get the royal treatment when they go abroad. They just returned from Germany and didn’t pay for accommodation. They stayed in Berlin with the parents of a German backpacker who volunteered in their garden when he was 18. His parents had gone on holiday and gave the Mundays their home for the duration of their absence. The Mundays said that previously their son came back to Samurai five or six times, and once he even stayed with them for a year-long while attending Newcastle Uni.

“He was in our house, he was just like a son,” Sandy says.

The two have been on some spectacular holidays throughout the years, including a trip to Machu Picchu, Croatia, Turkey, Portugal and even seven-month trip around in a caravan with their son and their dog. Their next holiday will be in Bali for their 25th anniversary.

When not travelling, the Mundays never really stop working or get much time off because they live on location.

To go with their bungalows, they also have some land, cows and cabins on the Allyn River which they host people via Stayz or through their own website. Between holidays, these two properties keep the Mundays very busy.

But the ongoing work doesn’t seem to faze them. Together the two have worked hard for decades to craft a life that they want while also helping visitors have experiences up to par with their own.

“They call them lifestyle businesses; this is our life business,” Sandy says

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VIDEO: Crawford Brothers are focusing in on pop ambitions

ON A MISSION: Hinton duo The Crawford Brothers are aiming for the stars with their latest single Highlife.
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THE Crawford Brothers aren’t hiding it. They’re crystal clear about their intentions.

They want to become certified pop stars and enjoy all the spoils it entails –the fame, the women and the money.

The Hinton duo’s latest single Highlife, completewith the self-produced and self-fundedHollywood-style music video, perfectly encapsulateswhat Ben and Zac Crawford are aiming to achieve.

Think limousines, country mansions, yachts with bikini girls, fancy hotel suites and lots and lots of cash, and you’ve got the idea.

“The original melody for the chorus, my brother [Zac] came up with it in LA,” Ben said.

“It was a spontaneous melody and then we started putting themesaround it. We had the general lyric about the highlife andextravagant lifestyles and the pinnacle of success. Something everyone can relate to.”

The Crawford Brothers have had plenty oftime in LA since 2015honing their craft among music industry representatives fromAtlantic Records andUniversal Music Group.

It’s spawned a debut self-titled EP which featured the track Feel thatwon the rock category of the 2016John Lennon Songwriting Competition, set up by the late Beatle’s widow Yoko Ono.

The Crawford Brothers are no strangers to accolades. They were formerly known as rock band Powerage, whowon the2010 YouthRock, a statewide competition that helped propel Silverchair to fame.

While Powerage and even early Crawford Brothers songs focused ona traditional rock sound, Highlife embraces aslicker pop instrumentation with elements of funk, soul and hip-hop aimed to get dance floors pumping.

Ben promises the secondsingle You and I will be a different beast.

The Crawford Brothers – Highlife“The girls will love it. It has more love themes,” he said.“I think Highlife is appealing to the fellas, or everyone really, but Youand I is more of a heartfelt tear-jerker.”

The Crawford Brothers were previously a four-piece featuringdrummer Adam Harris and bassist Ben Lawrence, but two years ago the two blonde-haired siblings made the decision to go it alone and handle allduties in the studio.

“It seems to just work a lot easier,” Ben said.

“My brother and I are on the same page and we’ve been at it together for 13 years now so it’s a lot more smooth sailing and not too many minds in the one pot.”

For the upcoming tour to support Highlife and You and I The Crawford Brothers will be joined by Newcastle drummer Hudson Wallace and Mexican bass playerRocko Van Köperen.They met VanKöperen in LA after he travelled from Mexico to Californiato follow his dream of joining a band.

“We ended up connecting with him on a brotherly level, it was crazy, and we did a heap of shows around America with him and at the end he had to sadly depart andgo home,” Ben said.

“We kept in good contact and we’re going to bring him over this year and tour and then jet back to the States and tour there.”

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Bombers target AFL finals win: Merrett

AFL BOMBERSEssendon Bombers star Zach Merrett has set the bar at winning a finals game in 2018.
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After collecting the wooden spoon in 2016, John Worsfold’s side surged into the finals last season after welcoming back the core group of players who served doping bans.

But they came crashing to earth with a 65-point elimination final loss to the Sydney Swans.

A recruiting spree that netted Jake Stringer, Devon Smith and Adam Saad followed, fuelling optimism at Bomberland.

“To add three pretty quality players … hopefully means we will improve,” Merrett told SEN on Tuesday.

“The expectation is to improve which means we obviously need to win a final.

“Losing pretty poorly to Sydney last year was really disappointing.

“I think a lot of guys will still be holding onto that loss, I guess improving would be to win a final and experience winning those big games.”

Merrett is keen to take his game to the next level after winning the club’s best-and-fairest award in 2016 and earning All n honours last season.

He was eager to learn as much as he could when he rubbed shoulders with some of the game’s greats in the most recent international rules series.

“I spent a lot of time with Nat Fyfe actually … he sat next to me most of the time,” Merrett said of the Brownlow Medal winner.

“To pick his brain and work out how he goes about it was great, but I certainly made sure I sat there and didn’t say too much.

“I listened to the way (Joel) Selwood and Paddy (Dangerfield) went about their work and tried to take in as much as I could.”

Essendon kick off their 2018 season with a Friday night clash against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on March 23.

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