FOOTBALL coaching legend John Northey has revealed the chance to return to hands-on senior coaching is what lured him to Central Highlands Football League club Learmonth.
The two-time Richmond premiership player, who went on to coach VFL-AFL clubs Sydney, Melbourne, Richmond and Brisbane, unveiled his coaching line-up yesterday at Learmonth, with Chris McGuigan and Josh Reichman named as playing assistant coaches.
The Courier last month reported Northey had left a director of coaching role at the Ballarat Swans to join the Ballarat City Mazda Honda Lakies.
He said there would have to be changes at Learmonth to lift the club from 16th on the ladder.
“There is a lot of work to do,” Northey said yesterday.
“The first step is to get the players here to train and then to train properly. And we have to make sure they enjoy training.
“I will rely heavily on my assistant coaches and have already told them that. It’s not going to be solely John Northey doing this and that.”
Northey said he knew this year would be his last season at Ballarat Football Club and he “had anticipated giving it away and going to Melbourne to watch the football”.
However Learmonth club president Graham Biggs, who was at the Ballarat Swans when Northey first started coaching there, had talked him into taking over the job at the Lakies.
“Graham was one of the people who, seven years ago, knocked on my door and asked me to coach. I wasn’t sure I would do it but he and Shane Manley talked with me about it.
“Graham moved here a few years ago, joined the club and found himself in the role of president. We talked about (Learmonth) and I came here, in my own words ‘to help out’.
“In my last year at Ballarat I didn’t think I was doing much. I’m looking forward to going back into a traditional coaching role now. We’re still looking for another coach – a playing coach – to do a dual role.
McGuigan was a premiership player at Lake Wendouree before moving to Learmonth. The 26-year-old left to play footy in Noosa but came back to the Lakies this year.
Reichman, 24, was an assistant coach at Hawkesdale-Macarthur after playing alongside McGuigan at Noosa.
Club president Biggs said the new coaching panel would represent a turning point at the lakeside club.
“Everyone is excited about having a person of John’s stature coming here and helping development the culture at the club,” Biggs said.
“We’re not guaranteeing a flag but we want to win some games of footy. We’ve got some kids out of the under-18 will be terrific and John is ideal for mentoring players like that.
“It has been tough at the club for the last few years and this will be the turning point.”
Northey will be presented to the club at a meet the coach barbecue next Friday evening. Pre-season training begins mid-November.