Inglewood’s new co-coaches Josh Hutchinson and Tim Wicks will put their faith in youth to lift the Blues from the bottom of the Loddon Valley Football League next season.
Hutchinson has been promoted from within to take over from Stuart Balnaves, while former Mitiamo star Wicks has joined after two years leading Rushworth.
The new coaches face one of the toughest tasks in central Victorian football in charge of a young team which failed to win a game last season.
While they plan to recruit some experienced footballers, Hutchinson and Wicks aim for most of Inglewood’s improvement to come through their on-field leadership and development of existing players.
“The plan is to keep absolutely everyone on the list rather than go for that big year and hire as many gun players as we can,” Hutchinson said.
“We want to keep these young kids and say to them ‘this could be your club for 10 years. You could all play here, have fun together and hopefully win some premierships.’”
Hutchinson, 30, was a playing assistant coach at Newbridge before joining Inglewood halfway through last season.
While Hutchinson will make his senior coaching debut next season, Wicks has experience rebuilding struggling teams.
The 38-year-old took over at Rushworth after the club finished ninth in 2010 and led the Tigers to a Kyabram District Football League grand final the next season.
“You can do it pretty quickly, get the culture right at the club and get the boys going in the right direction. Huntly proved that this year in the Heathcote league, you just need the right people,” Wicks said.
Wicks, a three-time Harding Medallist in his 13 seasons at Mitiamo, was looking to play closer to home than Rushworth when the opportunity came up at Inglewood.
“I never envisaged that I would coach against Mitiamo but that’s the way it’s worked out,” he said.
“It’s a big challenge, the only way is up, though. Deep down we want to have success, set them up for two or three years’ time to have a tilt (at a premiership).”
Blues president Wade Roberts hopes the club’s young players, including a strong group of under-17s set to make the step to senior football, will take big strides under Hutchinson and Wicks.
“Their experience and knowledge is what Inglewood needs with such a young side,” Roberts said.
“We’re hoping Inglewood can get off the bottom of the ladder and be competitive, once the boys get some self-belief things can turn around.”
In a boost for the Blues, the Loddon Valley’s CVGT rising star Joel Stevenson has turned down offers from rival clubs to re-sign with Inglewood.
Inglewood begins pre-season training in December.