LESS than 12 month after joining Gisborne as a player and assistant coach, Clinton Young has made the step up to senior coach.
The Bulldogs announced the appointment this week following a BFNL season in which they finished seventh with six wins-12 losses.
Young, an AFL premiership star with Hawthorn in 2008, replaces Brad Spear, who stepped down after leading the Bulldogs for the last two seasons.
Gisborne Football Netball Club president John Wood said Spear, who has three sons playing with the Bulldogs including one who made his senior debut this year, would continue to be involved around the club next season.
He said the club was thrilled to be able offer the role to Young following an exhaustive selection process which generated plenty of outside interest.
“We appointed an independent coaching selection panel – we had some pretty highly credentialed people on that – and we were really excited about the quality of applicants we received,” Wood said.
“I wouldn’t say it was an absolutely easy decision, it was quite a rigorous process and the end of it, Youngy did come out on top.
“He presented amazingly well and obviously having that year as assistant coach, it gave us a good insight into what he is capable of.”
Young, who played 137 AFL games for Hawthorn (116) and Collingwood (21) after debuting in 2005, moved to Gisborne in 2014, but spent the 2015 football season with his original club Minyip-Murtoa in the Wimmera league.
He joined Gisborne on a two-year deal late in 2015 and had, on occasion, trained with the Bulldogs that year.
Wood said Young had impressed all and sundry with his professionalism and dedication and would take charge of a Bulldogs team which was well placed for future success.
“It’s fairly well documented where we were at a couple of years ago and we’ve managed to turn the club right around,” said.
“We are in a fairly good position financially, but with the playing group, the club has played finals most years since joining the Bendigo league, but you can’t stay up there the whole time,” he added in reference to the past two seasons.
“We lost a lot of senior players – more than half the team – a few years ago, but we knew we had a lot of good juniors coming through, and that was where Brad Spear stepped in and did a fantastic job in developing and nurturing a really young list.
“Our average age last year was 19, this year it was a touch over 20.
“We’ve used the least number of points of any club just about in country Victoria.”
Young, who played TAC Cup with North Ballarat Rebels, initially joined Hawthorn as a rookie list player.
He was elevated to the senior list in 2006, the same year he won an AFL Rising Star nomination.
He was the Hawks’ leading possession winner in the first half of the 2008 premiership win, before injuring his ankle.
He departed the Hawks at the end of 2012, after playing in their grand final loss to Sydney, and joined Collingwood as a free agent for two seasons (2013-14).
Young’s one season back at Minyip-Murtoa culminated with a nail-biting two-point grand final loss to Horsham Saints, before he signed with Gisborne.
With a coach in place, Wood said attention would quickly turn to recruiting, with the club keen to continue building on a string of solid performances against some of this year’s finalists.
The Bulldogs have their reserves and under-18 teams involved in first-semi finals this weekend, as well as their A-grade netball team.