EVER since John Northey strolled through the doors at Learmonth, the senior side has started to see on-field success.
The dual Richmond premiership player and former Tigers, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane coach took over at the helm at the start of last season, lifting the senior side from 16th on the ladder in 2012 to one that just missed a place in finals 12 months later.
This pre-season, Northey was joined by Learmonth favourite son Brenton Powell, who returned from a successful coaching stint in Cairns to co-lead his former club.
And the combination has clearly worked.
The Lakies claimed the opening seven games of the Central Highlands Football League season – toppling Waubra and Daylesford along the way – before winning 11 matches to finish the home and away campaign in seventh spot on the table. This has secured Learmonth a finals berth for the first time since 2009.
Powell said reaching finals may be seen as mission accomplished when looking back at the end of the season, but focus now was firmly on seeing just how far it can progress in 2014.
“It’s good for the club to make finals, but the next thing is actually winning a final. That has more been the talk of the last week,” Powell said.
Powell said Northey’s influence had been great this season, with the 71-year-old working closely one-on-one with players while being the eyes and ears off-field on game day.
“It has been really good for the development of the younger guys around the club,” Powell said.
“When I play I don’t concentrate on any moves or things like that. I think it’s more beneficial if I just try to get the footy.
“I come in at quarter-time and say what I’m thinking out there and we put our ideas together.”
Given his background, Northey’s ability to help get the Lakies back on track has come as no surprise, particularly for former president Graham Biggs.
“It has been tough at the club for the last few years and this will be the turning point,” Biggs told The Courier in relation to the appointment of Northey and assistant coaches Chris McGuigan and Josh Reichman in October of 2012.
Both McGuigan and Reichman have since moved on, but Northey has remained to help steer the club to the success it has craved for the past few years.
While the coaching structure for next season is yet to be confirmed, you can bet the Lakies’ committee will be trying its best to keep Northey involved in some capacity in 2015.