K rock Football

Buddha coup for Leopold

GARRY Hocking’s appointment as coach of Leopold has been labelled the club’s biggest announcement since it joined the GFL in 1992.

The Geelong great and Australian Football Hall of Fame member, currently serving as an assistant coach under Paul Carson at St Joseph’s, was unveiled as the Lions mentor for the 2022-23 seasons on Saturday morning.

“I’ve been here since ’92, and I would think it’s by far the biggest announcement we’ve made as a club,” president Richard Hockley.

“(It’s) not just appointing a new senior coach, I think Garry brings much more than that to the club.

“I can see he’s just so passionate about the game … I just see Garry’s presence having a massive influence right through our club.

“Garry wanted to know everything, right down to the Auskickers. I see that investment in what Garry can bring to the club.”

Hocking replaces Jason Tom, who informed the club earlier this month that he would be stepping down from the role for personal reasons despite re-signing for 2022 in mid-July.

He says Leopold approached him last week about his potential interest in the position.

“It was only last Friday I received a call from Leopold, and I thought I’d be able to sit down and have a meeting last Friday night, and then things moved pretty quickly,” Hocking said.

“I’m still with St Joeys, so we had to be delicate, and they needed to know as quickly as possible.

“I got on the front foot and spoke to Paul (Carson, coach) and Todd (Devine, president) about making the decision and joining Leopold.”

Since retiring at the end of 2001 after 274 games and four best-and-fairest awards with the Cats, Hocking has held various coaching roles.

He coached WAFL club Peel Thunder in 2005, SANFL clubs Port Adelaide (2014-15) and South Adelaide (2017), and had four matches in charge of Port Adelaide at AFL level as interim coach in 2012.

Before joining Joeys, Hocking was an assistant coach under Nathan Buckley at Collingwood.

“I’ve had itchy feet for the last 12 months,” he said. “I’ve loved my time under Paul and being at Joey’s.

“But I’m really keen to get hold of the steering wheel and coach my own team again.”

Leopold will miss the finals for the first time since 2015 this year, with just three wins from 11 starts.

However, Hocking is bullish about the Lions prospects next year and beyond.

“When you talk about teams in the competition, there was some really good stuff being said,” he said. “Behind the scenes, I did a bit of homework with people.

“There’s a really good bunch of players, the people behind the scenes; Richard, Matt (Aston, football boss) and the likes.

“Jason Tom had done a really good job in laying some foundations, so it all seemed to be heading in a positive direction.

“Taking out this year’s position of ninth, (there are) exciting times ahead.

“It’s a growth region as well, to be able to get more juniors, which end up becoming senior players in so many years time.

“There are lots of positives.”

Twitter: @tom_kinf79