Bell follows in father’s footsteps as coach of Heathcote

NEW CHALLENGE: Luke Bell, a dual premiership player with Heathcote in 2009 and 2010, is returning home to coach the Saints.
NEW CHALLENGE: Luke Bell, a dual premiership player with Heathcote in 2009 and 2010, is returning home to coach the Saints.

LUKE Bell is following in the footsteps of his father, Wayne, by being appointed the new coach of Heathcote.

Wayne Bell is a former coach of Heathcote, guiding the club to the 1992 Heathcote District league premiership.

However, there’s plenty of work for Bell to be done if he’s to emulate his father as a Heathcote premiership coach given the recent struggles of the Saints, who have won just four of their 48 games over the past three seasons.

“Hopefully, we can get a few of the local boys back, but we’ve just got to look at getting competitive again for a start,” said Bell, who will be a playing coach.

“We won’t be putting a number on the amount of wins we want to achieve; for a start it will be just about getting the boys fit and getting them to gel as a group.

“If you can get those two things looked after the wins will come.”

For Bell, his appointment to Heathcote is a return home in what will be the club’s 50th anniversary season since the merger of Heathcote North and Heathcote South.

He was a key member of the Saints’ back-to-back premierships in 2009 and 2010 as a defender.

While Heathcote is home, Bell has spent the past two years with YCW in the Loddon Valley league, and he has also had a two-season stint with Bendigo league club South Bendigo.

Bell takes over as Saints’ coach from Paul Kennedy.

“Coaching is something I’ve been keen on and when this opportunity came up at the home club it was hard to refuse,” Bell said.

Heathcote president Andrew Conforti  said the club was excited by the return of Bell to the Saints to lead the side.

“It’s our 50th year next season and to have a local guy coaching the club is going to be great,” Conforti said.

“He’s got some experience under his belt now having had a couple of years at South Bendigo as an assistant to Rick Coburn, and a couple of years also at YCW, so he will be good for us.

“We think he’s at a perfect age for the role at 30 and I’m sure the players will all look up to him.

“He’s been a good player and he’s still got a lot of good footy left in him, so that’s what we like about him.

“Now that we’ve got the coaching appointment made, hopefully, in a few weeks we’ll have a few signings.”

Bell expects the Saints will begin their build-up to 2017 with the start of pre-season training from mid-November.

Heathcote’s 2016 season:

Wins: 1 – defeated LBU by 40 points in round four.

Position: 8th

Percentage: 51.6

Average for: 64

Average against: 124

Quarters won: 18/64

Time in front: 20.3%

Best and fairest: Jake Condon.