CHURCHILL champion Luke Cheney made his Gippsland Soccer League return for the Rams on Sunday against Monash.
Cheney came off the bench in the Rams’ 4-0 demolition of last year’s grand finalist, marking his first GSL match since joining Morwell Pegasus as State League Two reserves player-coach last year.
Now non-playing senior State League One coach, Cheney said his involvement at Churchill came second to his Pegasus commitments.
“I’m giving 100 per cent to my Pegs job and Sunday is my free day and I’ve got a lot of good friends there (at Churchill),” Cheney said.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Churchill… it’s just an opportunity to have a kick with my mates.”
Cheney hit back at criticism of his dual club role, likening the situation to former Gippsland Power coach Nick Stevens playing with Traralgon in the Gippsland League last season.
“I came to Pegs for State League soccer and I’m doing my job there,” he said.
“This thing does happen I guess it’s just a first for soccer where guys that are sort of winding down their careers, which I am, and concentrating on coaching, get an opportunity to have one last kick.
“I’ve got old ties to Churchill which everyone should know.”
Cheney may only play a handful of games depending on State League commitments, and will not be available for another three weeks at least.
His involvement will double as a scouting mission, with a chance to keep an eye on local talent. “It’s not just me having a kick it’s me experiencing the players as well, face-to-face on the pitch and how they carry themselves… if they impress they’ll get a phone call for next year,” he said.
“I’m not trying to pillage the Valley, but I’m just trying to give the young local players that have got the ability the chance to play in State League soccer.”
The striker said his return match was a nice change of pace from the rigours of coaching.
“I’ve put that much into coaching the last couple of years so to turn up and have a kick on Sunday was really good with no pressure… it was good to just be relaxed and be a player again.”
Cheney scored 25 goals to take out the golden boot in Churchill’s all conquering 2012 campaign.