Blacktown City FC’s well admired and modest senior men’s coach Mark Crittenden became one of the very few National Premier Legaues NSW Men’s managers to crack this historic milestone as the 54-year-old recently celebrated taking charge of his 300th match for the club.
The milestone was reached in late April when Blacktown City FC defeated Football South Coast side Tarrawanna Blueys in the club’s 5-1 round 4 FFA Cup Preliminary round victory.
‘Critto’ as he is affectionately known by all his fellow peers started his journey as a coach when he was just 16 at Granville & Districts Soccer Football Association side Greystanes FC and went from coaching the young kids to managing the club’s senior side in 1996 in the then old NSW State League 2, winning promotion to the 1st Division.
His coaching efforts were quickly recognised by the Marconi Stallions where he became the assistant coach to two formidable names in the form of the great Zoran Matic and Frank Farina in the old National Soccer League before moving onto Bankstown City Lions in 2003 where he became the club’s Under 20s coach.
His love affair with Blacktown City however kicked off in 2004 where took charge of the club’s Under 11’s Metro League side.
It was there Critto commenced his work developing some of the best young footballers ever to come out of the popular Blacktown City youth football factory with the likes of recognised stars Matt Ryan, Musti Amini, Mitchell Duke and Bernie Ibini to name a few coming across his radar.
He quite simply lives and breathes Blacktown City FC and throughout those earlier years at the then Gabbie Stadium, Critto worked his magic in becoming the club’s first grade coach in 2011 where he first took charge of the club against the Sutherland Sharks.
He also took up the role of Head of Football in 2018 alongside his senior coaching duties stamping his ethos about the ‘Blacktown City way’.
“Seventeen years ago my only ambition was to coach at Blacktown City FC at any level,” said Crittenden.
“I started in 2004 in the Under 11’s and went through the grades to the first team.
“If you told to me then I would coach 300 plus first grade games I would of happily made that deal then and there.
“I have also enjoyed some success throughout my time as the club’s senior coach.
“I’m in the game of winning football games and developing good footballers and men so while I’m doing this I can’t see an end date to coaching football.
“Throughout that period I’ve been lucky enough to have worked and learned from some great coaches at the football club with the likes of Ken Schembri, Brian Brown and Aytek Genc whom I still lean on all now.
“I’ve also worked with some good young talent and I get a real joy out of seeing them kick onto bigger and better things such as seeing Mat Ryan and Musti Amini representing our country.
“I do however have to pay special tribute to one man who has been by my side for my entire coaching career and that’s been ‘GC’ (Graham Crawhall) – A very special man and someone who deserves more credit.”
“As a football club we couldn’t be prouder of what Mark has achieved as our first grade coach,” said the club’s legendary striker and now club director Luke Roodenburg.
“Mark has brought so much success since his arrival and has developed so many players in the past that have gone onto representing our country as well as playing abroad.
“He has won everything that has been put in front of him, from Premierships and Championships to Waratah Cup Finals and NPL Finals Series trophies, he’s done it all not to mention many famous FFA Cup Round of 32 and beyond victories.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have witnessed first hand his passion and drive for success for this club and have had the pleasure of working with him as a captain, assistant coach and now in a football department role.
“If people think of Blacktown City FC, the first person that comes to mind is Mark Crittenden not to mention the constant man beside him for his 300 plus games which has been his team manager and person that bleeds for the club being the one, the only ‘GC’ Graham Crawhall,” Roodenburg ended.
Bravo ‘Critto’, from all of us at Football NSW congratulations on cracking that 300th senior coaching mark for the one club and here’s to many more years to come.