PROUD COACH: Captain Alex Kempnich and coach Chris Layland with the trophy after the Byron Bay Rams took out the 2018 Summer Youth League soccer competition. Photo: Steve Mackney
PROUD COACH: Captain Alex Kempnich and coach Chris Layland with the trophy after the Byron Bay Rams took out the 2018 Summer Youth League soccer competition. Photo: Steve Mackney

Thistles new coach set to roar club back to ‘glory days’

If you measure a coach's success by the achievement of their players, then Chris Layland is a winner.

Like all top sporting officials, Layland, 57, operates as though the game is in his DNA - and perhaps it is.

What is certain is the man known as the "coach's coach," who was named 2020 Northern NSW Coach of the Year, has been signed by the Lismore Thistles to lead their Premier League team for the 2021 season.

Layland said he's both saddened and elated with the move, which was in part caused by the pandemic.

"After nearly four years at Byron Bay, the realities of COVID-19 made me decide to move out to my mango farm at Kyogle and I did so with a really heavy heart," he said,

"But my next thought, after sorting my health, was to a football fix.

"Years ago, probably 15, I coached at Thistles and they were my first choice to coach a club near to home."

Layland said knowing some of the players and club officials was also a deciding factor.

"I'm excited and proud to join Lismore Thistles," said Layland.

"Thistles used to be a really great club many years ago and I'd like to be part of the team which helps them return to the days of glory."

Layland's pedigree includes coaching in Northern NSW for nearly two decades, including leading Byron Bay Football Club to many victories as both their Summer Youth League head coach and their Technical Director, plus collecting 16 trophies through his implementation of the club's High Performance Program.

He also was a Brisbane Roar Academy coach.

TOP COACH: Before winning 2020 FFNC Coach of the Year, then Byron Bay FC Technical Director, Chris Layland, was named as Football Far North Coast's coach of the month for August. Picture: Steve Mackney
TOP COACH: Before winning 2020 FFNC Coach of the Year, then Byron Bay FC Technical Director, Chris Layland, was named as Football Far North Coast's coach of the month for August. Picture: Steve Mackney

Layland holds an FFA B Licence, and he is an FFA Coaching Course Presenter.

He was instrumental in securing many players a trial with clubs, including Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney Olympic.

Layland helped FFNC Golden Boot winner Sam Shepherd sign with Wanderers, a decision vindicated when the latter won an U20 championship with the A-League club.

"I urge all players who would like to join us at Thistles to give me a call on 0403 926 132," Layland said.


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