K rock Football

Otis to say farewell

Steve Clark is stepping down as coach of Queenscliff. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

STEVE Clark isn’t sure what his emotions will be like when the final siren sounds on Queenscliff’s clash with Torquay, ending one of the longest coaching careers in local football in the region.

Clark has made the call to end his second stint in charge of the Coutas, telling his players on Tuesday night he won’t be going on in 2022.

“I’ve certainly come to terms with it because I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he said.

“I’m not a big one for ego and fanfare, so I’m just happy to finish up and have a beer after the game if we’re allowed to do that.

“Over the coming months, I’ll have conversations with people that have been with me for a long time and mean a lot to me.

“No doubt, when we’re able to catch up, I’ll have a quiet beer in that way.

Clark started his senior coaching career with Queenscliff in 2000, with his first stint continuing until 2006.

He joined GFL club St Albans in 2007 for three seasons.

Clark replaced Aaron Greaves at Leopold in late 2010 and went on to become the longest-serving coach in the Lions’ history, delivering them their maiden GFL premiership in 2016 during a seven-season stint.

He returned to Queenscliff in 2018, guiding the Coutas to an elimination final in his first year back.

However, injuries in 2019 and 2021 have resulted in a combined seven wins across both seasons.

“It has been a tough decision,” Clark said.

“But because of the injuries that we’ve had, and then COVID, and then they decided to combine this year, if I decided to go on, I could only go one more year.

“I think it’s the right time thing by the club to be bringing someone now that can commit for the next 3-4 years and come out of this COVID situation to build something pretty strong.

“It’s something I could only commit 12 months to.”

Clark will fall just short of breaking Matthew Sproule’s record for most games coach in the BFL.

Saturday’s clash with the Tigers will be his 177th game in charge of the Coutas. Sproule coached 178 games during his time at Ocean Grove and Portarlington.

The chances of Clark breaking that record are minimal, with another senior coaching job not on his radar.

“I don’t think I’d ever be a head coach again,” he said.

“I enjoy the development side of the game, in particular working with a lot of the young kids over the last few years.

“I enjoy match day and the structure part of the game.

“But, I think my value is more to be able to help in a mentoring or development role.

“Head coaching, that’s gone for me now.”

Clark says he will never be too far away from Queenscliff.

“That’s my home club, my daughter still plays netball, my two boys are there,” he said. “I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the club out.

“But, in the same breath, I’m mindful that whoever the new coach is, they get that clear space in regards to not having the ex-coach around.

“There’s a couple of things that I’ve thought of, but I’ll just have to wait and see.”

Clark’s trusted lieutenant Kent Hannam will also step down after four years as reserves coach.

“They have been great servants of our football club and have left a legacy of young talent and emerging leaders for the next generation,” Queenscliff president Rowan Martin said.

“Unfortunately, the ongoing Covid restrictions prohibit crowds at our last home game and so we will be unable to farewell them in the manner that each deserves.

“The club will ensure that their commitment and contribution is properly recognised when restrictions allow.

“The club also acknowledges the wonderful support of each of their families, especially their wives Shelley and Cindy.

“Both families have been equally dedicated to the club and the playing group.

“On behalf of all members of our club, we thank them for their enormous contribution and wish them, and their teams, well for this weekend.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

STEVE CLARK – COACHING CAREER

Queenscliff 2000-06, 2018-2021 – 177 games
St Albans 2007-2009 – 52 games
Leopold 2011-2017 – 133 games (Premiership 2016)

Total Games Coached – 362