K rock Football

Smith, Port to part company

Portarlington coach Jesse Smith (krockfootball.com.au/Al Packer)

PORTARLINGTON will soon start the search for a new senior coach with Jesse Smith to leave the club at the end of the season.

The winless Demons and Smith mutually agreed on Wednesday morning not to trigger the clause in his contract for him to continue into a fourth year in charge at Ron Evans Oval following a meeting of the club’s executive on Tuesday night.

However, Smith, who was appointed mid-2016 for the 2017 season will see out the final nine rounds.

“The club acknowledges that we have a responsibility to our members, supporters, and sponsors to do everything we can to improve on-field performance at senior level,” president Linda Shaw said in a statement.

“It is difficult decisions like this one, that the committee will continue to make as we move forward.”

“We now have over 180 active junior football members and 60 Auskick members who will become the succession plan to our senior football department in the not-too-distant future.”

“Internally, our strategy is clear; we need to continue to build on work done over more recent times which will allow us to move forward, changes will continue to occur as we ensure that we position ourselves for season 2020 and beyond.”

Smith, who played two AFL games with Carlton in 2006, and spent time with GFL club St Albans, joined the club in the wake of Matthew Sproule’s sacking in mid-2016.

Portarlington, which hasn’t played finals since 1994, won just one match in 2017 and improved to three victories last year, including a historic first win over Geelong Amateur.

However, with the departure of and injuries to several key players, the Demons have struggled through the first half of 2019 with an average losing margin of 92 points.

Portarlington is the second local club to be in the market for a new coach following Ash Witney’s decision to step down from his position at Belmont Lions at the end of the season.

Twitter: @tom_king79