Leach returns as Whitley Warriors coach

Simon Leach has returned to Whitley Warriors as coach for the 2013-14 campaign.

He left the North Tyneside outfit at the end of the title-winning 2010-11 season.

He replaces the coaching team of Garry Dowd and Dave Holland who left Warriors recently after leading the team to a mid-table finish in NIHL North Division 1.

Leach has a wealth of playing and coaching experience on Tyneside with Warriors.

He made his Hillheads debut back in the late 1980s and went on the ice for Warriors for much of his playing career, as well as turning out for Paisley Pirates and Newcastle Vipers.

And while player/coach he assembled a talented squad who went on to achieve success in both the old English National League as well as the prestigious Northern League, which included Fife Flyers, Solway Sharks and Dundee Stars.

After leaving Whitley in 2011 he was appointed assistant coach of the ambitious Solway Sharks organisation, who were at the time in NIHL Division 2.

His time in Scotland was a great success as Sharks won the championship without losing a league game all season long.

Leach then spent the 2011-12 campaign as coach of Billingham Stars.

He built a competitive roster during his time on Teesside and even came out of retirement to add some experience to Stars line-up when injuries hit his squad.

Billingham finished as runners-up in all three NIHL North competitions last season, losing out to Blackburn Hawks in the end of season play-offs and to Solway Sharks in both the league and cup competitions.

After his appointment, Leach said: “It’s all happened very quickly, it’s been a bit of the whirlwind to be honest.

“I’m happy to be back at my hometown club and ready to start a new chapter in my hockey career.

“I enjoyed my time at Billingham and was treated very well by everyone connected with Stars, but anyone would be excited to be back at their hometown club.”

And Leach had this message for Warriors’ supporters: “I’ll be giving my all for the club and I hope to strengthen the team in key areas.

“I’m looking to extend the coaching staff as well and bring in one or two assistant coaches to help me with the workload.

“I see this as a challenge for myself and I’m looking forward to it.”

As for the current playing staff, he added: “I haven’t met the squad yet, that should be happening this coming weekend.

“I’ll be looking to strengthen the squad as we have to look to improve.

“I’ve worked with most of the players before so there won’t be too many surprises for me, though I haven’t coached Richie Lawson or Jamie Tinsley yet.

“Warriors were a little short on men last season so I’ll be looking to bring in some quality there.

“I always want to win trophies, however, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here – we’ll be going out to win as many games as possible, and if that brings a trophy that’s great, however, if not it won’t be for the want of trying.

“The team I put out on the ice will always go out there and compete.”

Warriors begin their 2013-14 league campaign in early September.

Fxtures have not been announced yet but are expected to be finalised over the summer months.