Harbin home after UK football work
FOR 12 years John Harbin has lived the dream - now he manages the Dreamtime Motel complex.
When it comes to people in sport who have been there and done that, Harbin would have to be high on any list.
After a successful career in local sport, Harbin took off and returned to the United Kingdom to weave his magic in professional sport.
Coming from Yorkshire, Harbin had a passion for rugby league, but proved he could be equally successful at association football.
Harbin was in charge at Salford, Wakefield Trinity, and briefly at Dewsbury before moving to football, usually in charge of fitness, at Oldham, Crystal Palace, Charlton, Coventry and Queens Park Rangers.
His final position in the professional game was with Swansea City under manager Paulo Sousa.
Harbin admits travelling was getting to him as his home in the UK was at Wakefield and driving to Swansea took five hours each week.
So why does a man with a CV like Harbin's wish to return to Rockhampton and manage a motel?
“It was the right time to come home,” he said.
“My parents are both close to 90 years of age and I feel I have a duty of care. Mum is in a nursing home just five minutes away.”
Harbin's dad is already thankful his son returned to the area to pursue a career in hotel management as he was evacuated from his house and taken in at Dreamtime.
The bushfires have also provided Harbin with further education in team motivation as fire crews are guests at the motel.
With a long career in sport, it seems unlikely the man would continue to learn about motivation from a bunch of volunteers, but Harbin said they had been inspirational with their camaraderie and ethics to bond as a working unit.
“It would be good to transfer that into any team sport,” he said.
Although away from the cut-throat business of professional sport in Britain, Harbin said he was still in touch with some of the people he worked with, including Sousa and, of course, Iain Dowie, a manager he teamed up with at most of his football clubs.
“I am still in touch and the players keep in touch,” he said.
Although football in Europe is going through turbulent financial times, Harbin said the sport would remain as popular as ever in the foreseeable future.
“It will stay strong due to the spectator support,” he said.
“The millionaires (club owners) have created another market.”
Success is demanded and there is little job security.
“It breeds distrust, nastiness and vindictiveness,” he observed.
“Managers look at teams in the relegation zone and send their CVs.
“Take Peter Taylor - he managed England under-21s two years ago but was recently sacked by Wycombe.”
Rugby league is only played in Lancashire and Yorkshire and Harbin admits if he had asked any player at football clubs he was with during the past three years to name an England league international they would have failed, but he has retained his own passion for league.
- Last night at the annual general meeting of the go-ahead Yeppoon Rugby League club, Harbin was named as the club's senior coach for the 2010 season.
Club president David Hiscox said he was delighted to welcome a person of Harbin's experience to the club.
Hiscox said the calibre of applicants for the position was proof the club was on the right track.
“John is going to step into one of the best clubs around,” he confirmed.
“He will bring a lot of experience to the club and it will assist other (Yeppoon) coaches.
“We have players champing at the bit to start training.”
Yeppoon is already looking ahead to the new season with a part of the club's build-up being the “Seagulls Cup”, a pre-season competition across six grades against Tannum Sands.