NORTH Ballarat Roosters’ Gerard FitzGerald will equal the all-time VFL/VFA games coached record this week.
The Roosters’ triple premiership coach is set to draw level with the legendary Bill Faul’s 313-game tally – a league benchmark that has stood since 1959 – when he leads the Selkirk Roosters into battle against returned Victorian Football League contender Footscray at Eureka Stadium on Sunday.
Their coaching logs will remain even for at least a fortnight as the Roosters have a bye next week before FitzGerald can make his record-breaking bid on May 18 in a clash with Frankston.
In a nice twist of fate, FitzGerald will equal and break the record at Eureka Stadium, having also chalked up his 300-game league coaching milestone at the Roosters’ home venue in round 12 last season.
FitzGerald, who hails from Victoria’s Western District and played for Geelong, unashamedly calls Ballarat home.
It has been a rollercoaster journey for FitzGerald in two stints at the Roosters’ helm.
He started in the club’s lean years, breaking into the VFL before taking the club to two grand finals in his era.
His second and current coaching stanza is best known for the Roosters’ triple premiership, winning the club’s first VFL flag in 2008 and backing it up in 2009 and 2010.
Just like Faul, FitzGerald has accrued his matches at the helm of three clubs.
He started the Roosters (1997-2002, returning in 2007) and spent time coaching VFL rivals Springvale, now Casey, (2003) which he led to finals and Port Melbourne (2004), which he took to the grand final.
In between, FitzGerald had two successful seasons coaching North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup under-18s.
Faul chalked up 250 VFA games in multiple stints with Prahran (1939-41, 49-52) and Northcote (1948, 53-56) before moving to Morabbin (1957-59) and up to South Melbourne, now Sydney Swans, the club where he built a strong playing career.
FitzGerald said Faul had an impressive history in the game in Victoria and also with Subiaco in the then-Western Australian National Football League where he started his career.
Both coaches have led interstate campaigns.
Ahead of FitzGerald’s 300-game milestone last season, Roosters’ premiership captain-turned assistant coach Shaune Moloney said players were often motivated to play at their best under FitzGerald, not to prove him wrong and not in spite, but because they never want to let him down.