Thursday, 18th October, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
In a bold move, the North Football Club have appointed club captain Codie Howard as senior coach for the 2019 season.
Howard, a two-time Lionel Johnston medalist, returned to the captaincy role in 2018 having previously led the Bulldogs to multiple premierships. His form this year was also outstanding, finishing second in the club’s best and fairest to champion Jayden Kelly as North made it through to yet another grand final.
Howard takes over from Robert Hickey who can count himself unlucky to not be reappointed.
Hickey’s Bulldogs improved steadily throughout the season, winning all games against West and Central whilst constantly reducing the margin between them and the all-conquering South.
It came to a head on grand final day with North producing a fantastic effort and if not for some missed opportunities in front of goal early in the final term, could have produced a massive upset to become League premiers once again.
Alas, football is a cruel beast and it will now be on Howard to return North to the summit of Broken Hill football and while it may come as shock to some, Howard said he’s put a lot of thought into the role.
“It’s probably been over the last few years that I’ve been looking at football differently while playing,” he explained.
“And I nearly put in for the job last year but talked myself out of it so over the last 12 months I gave it a lot of thought and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I feel the timing’s right and it’ll be good to take over the reins.”
Anyone who knows Howard will know what the North Football Club means to him and so it’ll be no surprise that he took the application process very seriously with reports that his presentation went for over an hour.
“I love the North Football Club and it wasn’t just a last minute thought (to coach),” Howard said.
“It was all about getting the right people around me as well but I know how passionate I am, as are the guys around me.”
While playing coaches were quite common in past eras of football, they’re rare even in country football these days with North’s last successful playing coach being Brendon Price who led the Dogs to the 1998 flag.
A challenge that faces any player-coach is being able to balance both roles and do both to their required standard and Howard said that the support he has around him will be key to that.
“Obviously it’s a big challenge to take on a player-coaching role,” he admitted.
“But it’s who you have around you that makes it work and with Ayrton Walker and Darren Tangy as my assistant coaches I think we have a great crew. They’re both passionate North guys and tactically and football-brain wise they’re top of the list.”
NFC president Justin Hoskins said that the opportunity of Howard coaching the club was too good to pass up.
“Codie is an exceptional leader and this was shown in his presentation to our Coaching Selection Committee,” Hoskins said.
“He has put months of work into his planning and along with his team of Ayrton Walker and Darren Tangey, the opportunity to have the spiritual leader of the Club assume the role of coach was too good to pass up.
“We are very excited to be moving forward with our new coaching appointments.”
“We would like to thank all of our 2018 coaches who aren’t continuing, especially Rob Hickey who is a club champion and did great things at the helm, but was just pipped at the post by this exceptional club man in Codie,” Hoskins added.
In the other North coaching appointments for 2019, John Schorn will continue on as reserves coach with Josh Savage as assistant while Brendon Martin will take over the women’s role.
Martin was originally meant to coach the women’s team in 2018 but was forced to withdraw due to work commitments with John Garnaut taking the reins.
Shayne Staker and Wayne Slater will coach the under 18s, Steve Lihou and Ethan Slater have been appointed in the under 15s while Brad Pressler and Mark Pitt are in charge of the under 13s.