K rock Football

Seagulls unveil co-coaches

Newly-appointed North Shore co-coaches Nick Dixon and Darren Winter. (North Shore Image)

A FORMER star with an outstanding coaching pedigree in Tasmania and a returning midfield gun will join forces in attempting to resurrect the fortunes of GFL battler North Shore.

Darren Winter, who has spent more than two decades in roles in Tasmania after an impressive playing career in the Apple Isle, and 2019 GFL Team of the Year member Nick Dixon have been unveiled as the Seagulls’ new co-coaches on Tuesday night.

The duo will fill the position left vacant by Mark McDowell following his decision in early November not to continue in the role in 2021.

Winter most recently spent 11 seasons with Tasmania State League club Lauderdale, guiding the clubs to nine finals appearances in 11 seasons, including three grand final appearances between 2017-19.

He was offered a contract for 2021 but declined the offer, opening the door for him to return home to Windsor Park for the first time in just over 30 years.

“I went on a fishing trip with my brother, and we ended up catching up with Dale (Purcell, North Shore president) for a beer”, Winter, who was inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame in 2014, said.

“We got talking, and it went from there a little bit. It was a chance meeting over a beer as a catch-up, and it (coaching North Shore) appealed to me a bit.

“I thought I wouldn’t mind coming home and getting back to the club and seeing a bit more of the family.”

Dixon, who is completing his Masters of Psychology, was due to play with and study at the University of Sydney in 2020 before COVID-19 forced the 24-year-old to return home.

“I moved back to Geelong when the pandemic hit, and I was keen to come back and play GFL footy,” he said.

“The opportunity presented itself through ‘Windy’ (Winter) looking to come on board, and with his commitments with his business, it worked perfectly that he wanted to share the role as well.

“I’m pretty keen to get in the coaching game as well, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to be still playing and also coaching, and at a club I’ve played at recently; it’s my family club.

“Everything aligned, and it seems like the perfect fit.”

Dixon’s father Bill, who is a member of the North Shore Hall of Fame, will join the coaching staff as a line coach.

While Winter’s brother Stephen, who captained the club’s 1990 premiership team, before coaching Portarlington and Bannockburn to flags in the 1990s, is also involved.

“We want to get as many of the old boys from North Shore engaged back in the club,” Dixon said.

“Hopefully we can have some success, and they’re keen to get down, and we can engage them.

“The more people, the better.”

Bruce Doherty, who has been heavily involved at St Mary’s, has been lured across as reserves coach.

“He almost ran the group before Christmas, so he’s been really good for us,” Dixon said.

“All the boys have said they love having him around and bringing in new ideas.

“And coming from a successful club, he’ll be invaluable.”

Winter, who owns a bakehouse in Lauderdale, will remain in Geelong until the end of pre-season before splitting his time between Tasmania and Victoria.

“In-season, I’ll fly in early Thursday afternoon and head home after the game,” he said.

“I think there’s a flight out around 10 o’clock, so I’ll jump on that one and go home and do all the reviews and touch base with the players early in the week.

“Nick will handle that training session with Billy, and there’s a couple of other guys we’ve got on board.”

Winter departed Windsor Park for Clarence in just before the Seagulls started the GFL’s most dominant era, which netted eight senior premierships in 11 seasons.

However, North Shore hasn’t featured in September action since 2004 and won just 24 games from 2010-19.

“We’re looking to get the club back on track, and not for just one year,” Winter said.

“That’s why Nick’s there. We hope Nick’s a long-term coach of the club.

“He can cut his teeth in a co-coaching role, and that can be handed over to him in the not-too-distant future in the sole coaching role.”

Dixon, who will be one of the youngest permanent senior coaches in GFL history, hopes he and Winter can use their extensive list of contacts to strengthen North Shore’s squad.

“Darren’s very well connected in Tassie, and in from the years he was down there, he’s very well respected,” Dixon said.

“Hopefully some of the boys he knows from Tassie, or have floated through at stages and are now in Victoria, we can get.

“And I’ve got some connections at VFL level and in Melbourne competitions.”

North Shore will resume pre-season training on Monday, January 18.

Twitter: @tom_king79