BUNGAREE has settled on a coaching succession plan that will see Heath Pyke take over from Greg Middleton at the end of the Central Highlands Football League season.
The Demons met during the week to confirm the deal, with Middleton to continue in the role until the end of the 2014 campaign before handing the reins to Pyke.
Pyke is currently in his second year as a playing assistant coach at Bungaree, which he joined after playing in a premiership at Lake Wendouree in 2010.
Middleton targeted Pyke to join the club with this idea firmly in mind and said he felt the time was right to step aside after five years in the top job.
“I just think it’s time to let somebody else take over, I guess. I’d love to stay there for a long period of time but I don’t think that’s in the best interests of the club,” Middleton said.
“The club is in a really strong position on and off field and it’s a good opportunity for somebody else to continue on with new ideas and concepts.”
Middleton arrived at Bungaree from a reserves coaching role Lake Wendouree, where he came to know Pyke, with his first season in charge alongside co-coach Nick Stephen in 2010. Middleton was then appointed as sole senior coach, where he has taken the Demons to a semi final in 2011, preliminary finals in 2012 and 2013 and an undefeated start to the campaign after 11 rounds this year.
Bungaree president Darren Rix said Pyke was from the same mould as Middleton, who had done well to take the club forward in his time at the helm.
“We have improved over the five years that Midda has been there and this year hopefully is an improvement on last year,” Rix said.
“I’d like to keep (Middleton) at the club in some capacity.”
Rix said it would now be up to Pyke to arrange his own coaching panel for next season.
Pyke said although it was good to have a firm plan in place, the focus was very much still on 2014, both for him personally and the Demons.
“We’re still all about this year at the moment,” he said.
“It’s good to have the plan in place but there is still a long way to go in this season and that is obviously our focus right now.”