PHIL Carman, one of the biggest names and most colourful characters in the VFL/AFL of the 1970s and early 1980s, has taken on arguably the toughest job in the Ballarat Football – coaching Sebastopol.
The Kookaburras last night announced Carman as their senior coach for two years.
Carman, 63, steps straight out of a one-year coaching stint with East Gambier in the Western Border Football League to continue what has been an expansive coaching career across the ACT, Victoria and South Australia spanning 30 years.
Carman played a combined total of 100 AFL with four clubs – Collingwood, Melbourne, Essendon and North Melbourne.
He produced his best football in a four-year stay with Collingwood from 1975, earning the nickname of “Fabulous Phil” in 66 games, kicking 142 goals and winning the Copeland Trophy.
Carman replaces Shawne Dummett, who led Sebastopol for two years.
Kookaburras president John Lyon said Carman’s appointment had come at the end of an extensive search, which began in June/July after Dummett indicated he was willing to step aside at the end of the season.
“We spoke to 32 people about the role.
“We haven’t sugar-coated anything about the task to Phil.
“He knows what’s ahead of him. He’s under no illusions. It’s not going to be easy,” Lyon said.
Sebastopol finished on the bottom of the BFL ladder this year without a win.
Carman is no stranger to major coaching challenges.
He coached Sturt in the SANFL from 1995-2001, not winning a game in his first season and remaining at the wrong end of the ladder for his first three years in charge.
Carman then lifted Sturt to the top of the ladder in 1998, only to lose the grand final.
Lyon said it had been critical to find the right person.
He said the club had made some mistakes in the past in appointing “high profile” coaches and this was not an option now.
Lyon said Sebastopol now planned to put quality people around Carman, including a playing assistant coach of note.
The Kookaburras have already secured former player Wayne Sheridan as under-18.5 coach.
Sheridan returns to Marty Busch Reserve after coaching at Mt Clear Junior Football Club.
Lyon said Dummett would also have a role at the club.
Carman is planning to move to Ballarat as soon as possible.
Carman has been coaching on and off since he retired after one season with North Melbourne in 1982.
His first appointment was as captain-coach of Eastlake in the ACT.
He is well known in the Bendigo region, where he coached or played with five clubs, and also had a stint as an umpire.
He has coached Kangaroo Flat, and also played with Sandhurst, North Bendigo and Kennington-Strathdale, and was non-playing coach at Kyneton.
Carman said enjoying “being around kids” had kept him in coaching game for so long, as well as the challenge it provided.
He said he believed he had plenty to offer Sebastopol.
The initial objective would be to nurture the club’s young talent and look to improve one step at a time.
“It might be rough early. It’s all about patience, maintaining discipline and working hard,” he said.