2017 senior coaching appointments
MORE than half of the NFL’s senior football clubs will have a new coach next season.
Twelve of this year’s 25 competing teams have made changes to their senior coaches during the off-season, while Laurimar and Reservoir have both appointed coaches as they look to enter the Division 3 competition.
Six Division 1 clubs will have a different coach at the helm in Round 1 next season.
Only grand finalists Heidelberg and Macleod, along with Montmorency and Whittlesea are set to go into the 2017 season with the same coach as this year.
After this season winning its first final in three years, Bundoora has appointed Ricky Dyson to spearhead its 2017 campaign.
Dyson, who has played 51 games for the Bulls following a 114-game AFL career at Essendon, replaces Phil Plunkett after four seasons in the top job at Yulong Reserve.
Plunkett guided the club to their fourth Division 1 premiership in 2013. He announced his resignation following the Bulls' six-point first semi final loss to Greensborough in September.
Robert Hyde returns to Greensborough after a two-year lay-off, assuming the job from his successor Ben Turner.
It will be Hyde’s third stint as Boro coach after previously guiding the club to premierships in 1983, 1984 and 2014 – the latter being his most recent season as a senior coach.
Hyde this season coached the NFL’s senior interleague team in its clash with the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League in the AFL Victoria Community Championships.
Division 1 newcomer Hurstbridge will enter the top flight under former Watsonia mentor Trevor Little.
Little, who has spent the past four seasons as a senior assistant at Bundoora, takes the reins from Rob Dyson and Trevor Frost, who both retired following the Bridges’ Division 2 grand final win over North Heidelberg.
West Preston-Lakeside has turned to favourite son Rob Maiorana as it looks to climb its way back up the Division 1 ladder.
A premiership player and three-time best and fairest winner with the Roosters, Maiorana returns to J.E. Moore Park after a nine-year stint with VFL outfit the Northern Blues, where he served as senior assistant since 2012.
Mairoana takes the top job from Rhett Jordon, who assumed the role of caretaker coach for the final five rounds this year after the Roosters cut ties with Leigh Cole at Round 14.
Paul King and Matt McLennan have both been appointed to their first senior coaching jobs, with King taking the reins at Eltham, while McLennan will lead Northcote Park.
While it is King’s first full-time senior coaching appointment, he does have previous experience after serving as caretaker coach at Bundoora following the departure of Ray Shaw in 2008.
He has since held assistant roles at Craigieburn and North Heidelberg and now takes the Eltham job from Mario Bandera, who coached the Panthers for the past three seasons.
King’s playing honours include winning the 2000 Division 1 best and fairest while with Bundoora, and this year’s Division 2 reserves best and fairest while with the Bulldogs.
McLennan is well regarded at Bill Lawry Oval, having previously coached the under-19s to a premiership and the reserves to a grand final appearance. He has also spent time as the Cougars' football manager.
He now steps up as senior coach to replace Harmit Singh, who has signed on with EFL outfit Vermont.
Only two of next year’s eight Division 2 clubs will have a new coach at the helm, with Lalor and Thomastown both set for new voices in 2017.
The Bloods will be led by Jarrod King, who has served as a playing assistant for the past three seasons since crossing from North Heidelberg.
King replaces Steve Marshall in the top job. Despite relinquishing the senior coaching position, Marshall will remain part of Lalor’s football department.
Thomastown has appointed Ben Chapman as successor to Dean Sinclair after the dual-premiership coach announced mid-season that he would not seek re-appointment in 2017.
Chapman has coached EDFL club Oak Park for the past three years and this year took the Kangaroos to the Division 1 preliminary final.
In Division 3, Steven Power has taken over as senior coach of Mernda after this year working as an assistant to Jason Ford.
Power has previous senior coaching experience in the NFL, following a two-year stint at Epping that included a Division 3 grand final appearance in 2015.
Nathan Phillips assumes Kilmore’s coaching position after acting as caretaker in the second half of the season.
Phillips commenced Kilmore’s debut season in the NFL as an assistant to Travis McCarty, before taking on the senior job when McCarty and the Blues parted ways at Round 11.
Banyule will enter its third season in the NFL with a new coach, with Pete Davey named as successor to Jason Plant.
A former player with Greensborough and Panton Hill, Davey steered Canberra outfit Woden Blues to the NPL-Capitol premiership in 2015.
He takes charge of Banyule as the club shoots for its first NFL finals appearance following fifth and sixth-place finishes over the past two years.
Gary Cutler has replaced Grant Toms in the top job at Heidelberg West.
Cutler joins the Hawks from North Heidelberg, having steered the Bulldogs reserves team for the past three years, which included premiership success in 2014.
Reservoir has turned to Aaron Collins as it looks to return to the playing field in 2017 after going into recess this season.
Collins was appointed to the job in September after a successful stint with EDFL Division 2 outfit Jacana, which included a grand final appearance in 2015.
Fellow Division 3 hopeful Laurimar has appointed Wayne Sharkie as its inaugural senior coach.
Sharkie has previously served as a senior assistant at both Montmorency and Keilor.
The Power are looking to join the NFL’s senior competition six years after forming as a junior club.
The NFL board has provided both Reservoir and Laurimar a late-November deadline to complete the criteria to compete in the 2017 senior competition.
Continue below to see who will be coaching each NFL senior club in 2017.
Bundoora – Ricky Dyson (replacing Phil Plunkett)
Eltham – Paul King (replacing Mario Bandera)
Greensborough – Robert Hyde (replacing Ben Turner)
Heidelberg – Charles Gaylard
Hurstbridge – Trevor Little (replacing Rob Dyson and Trevor Frost)
Macleod – Garry Ramsay
Montmorency – Ben Haynes
Northcote Park – Matt McLennan (replacing Harmit Singh)
West Preston-Lakeside – Rob Maiorana (replacing Leigh Cole)
Whittlesea – Jim Atkins
Diamond Creek – Craig Hayes
Fitzroy Stars – Jason Mifsud
Lalor – Jarrod King (replacing Steven Marshall)
Lower Plenty – Michael Ryan
North Heidelberg – Stephen Saddington
Panton Hill – Joffa Byron
Thomastown – Ben Chapman (replacing Dean Sinclair)
Watsonia – Corey McCall
Banyule – Pete Davey (replacing Jason Plant)
Epping – Greg Whitcroft
Heidelberg West – Gary Cutler (replacing Grant Toms)
Kilmore – Nathan Phillips (replacing Travis McCarty)
Laurimar* – Wayne Sharkie
Mernda – Steven Power (replacing Jason Ford)
Reservoir* – Aaron Collins
South Morang – Dean Grainger
St Mary's - Con Borg