K rock Football

Macca’s homecoming

MORE than forty years after departing North Shore as a teenager, Mark McDowell has returned to Windsor Park as senior coach.

McDowell, who spent the last six season in charge of GDFL club Inverleigh, guiding the Hawks to no worse than a preliminary final each year of his tenure, has signed a three-year deal.

He replaces Sam Darley, who McDowell confirmed he was approached to share the role with before the former Western Bulldog and GWS Giant signed with North Hobart last week.

“We had some discussions prior to that, and I was reflecting on my coaching and the result last year,” McDowell said.

“I needed some time to reflect on that.

“I was considering another option of co-coaching. And then when Sam stepped down, I had to make a decision fairly quickly because clubs need to move on.

“It was Monday night I decided I would go around again.”

McDowell, who has also coached Geelong Amateur and Corio, has a link to North Shore that spans more than sixty years.

“I last played here in the under-15s, with Laurie Davies as the coach, before crossing over to Geelong West,” he said.

“Dad (Harry) won a best-and-fairest here (1959) and my uncle Marcus McDowell was chairman of selectors alongside Gordon Hynes through the glory years at North Shore.”

McDowell’s first task is to shore up the Seagulls’ list.

Importantly, he confirmed both reigning best-and-fairest Mitch Van den Berg and quality forward Julian Dobosz have re-signed.

“The club’s done a pretty good job of getting a commitment from the players,” he said.

“I think there’s only a couple I need to get around to get their commitment for next year. So, that’s good.

“And the same in terms of resources. I’ll be trying to retain all the resources that we have, and hopefully add to that.

“It’s pleasing that most of the group’s all recommitted so I can really jump straight in and get focused on recruitment.”

The search is also on for either a playing co-coach or assistant coach.

“Some of the ones we’re considering, whether they want that coaching role – a lot of them seem to like that assistant-type role first, then maybe move into it.

“They get a little bit scared off by the idea of a co-coach.

“We’ll see what’s out there, but it’s an option to consider if the right person comes along.”

Pre-season will start later this month, and, not surprisingly for a McDowell coached squad, fitness will be a focus.

“It’ll definitely be a focus. If we’ve got a gap with talent on our list, the thing we can control is our fitness,” he said.

“There’s no reason we can’t be the fittest club in the competition if the players buy-in and commit.

“That’s how you make improvements.”

McDowell has also encouraged any Bellarine or GDFL players keen to have a crack at the region’s highest level to consider North Shore.

“North Shore will be the club of opportunity … we’ve got 47 points, so the opportunity’s here,” he said.

“If you go to another club, there’s a chance you’re going to get squeezed out by points and not get the opportunity.

“Here, that’s not going to be the case.

“For any players in the GDFL or Bellarine that are looking for an opportunity in GFL football, this is the club of opportunity.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

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