K rock Football

Clark calls time at West

Outgoing Geelong West co-coach Andrew Clark. (krockfootball.com.au/Al Packer)

ASK any senior coach what they hope to achieve when they take a position at a local football club and other than winning a premiership, the answer usually includes leaving that club in a better place than they found it.

After five years at the club (one season as an assistant to Mark Hounslow and four years in the top job), Geelong West’s Andrew Clark announced on Thursday night he is stepping down from the role.

He may not have taken Geelong West to its first premiership since 1987, but he’s confident he’s done his job in putting the Giants in a much-improved spot.

“I think it’s in a really good position for a long-time going forward,” Clark said. “With the restructure of Geelong West, I think it’s only going to help the club even more, along with the facilities they’re going to have there.

“I’m proud that was able to take the club to the finals for the first time in nearly 20-odd years.

“We don’t have trouble keeping our players; everyone’s happy to stay at the club.

“It’s a great club to be around – that’s the most pleasing part.”

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Clark, who was to share the role for a second season with Mitch Wight in 2020, said it was a “really tough” call to step down.

“It wasn’t a decision I made lightly,” he said.

“I had a conversation with the family and ‘Wilks’ (president Chris Wilkie) and Mitch, and I just felt the time was right.

“It wasn’t easy after five years. When you’re going into your sixth year, it becomes part of your family and part of everyday life.

“I wasn’t looking forward to telling the players.”

Wilkie said after a tough first year in charge in 2016 when the then Cheetahs were winless, Clark was the catalyst for West’s re-emergence.

“(There was) a lot of recruiting done and in 2017 we moved into being the Giants,” Wilkie said.

“We started winning games, people started coming to watch, and the retention of players (became easier).

“They were there ready to play every year, and we stopped losing players and kept building from there.”

Wilkie said the Giants would finalise their coaching structure for 2021 in coming weeks.

“We’ve just got to sit down and talk to the right people and make sure it’s all ready to go; then we’ll make an announcement after that,” he said.

Twitter: @tom_king79