Even in local football, recruiting plays a major role in how teams prepare for their next season. For Northern Football Netball League (NFNL) club Montmorency, their biggest recruit this offseason came in the coaching box. A long-time servant to the league, premiership coach Garry Ramsay has built his own legacy within the NFNL, and is set to embark on yet another challenge.
Ramsay comes across from Macleod where he built a winning foundation, guiding the Kangaroos to four successive division one grand finals over a six-year tenure. His time at Macleod helped mould the club into one of the most exciting and envied opponents within all suburban football.
Although Macleod formed as a powerhouse for half a decade, they achieved the ultimate NFNL glory just one time, winning the 2015 division one premiership.
Montmorency managed to secure the talents of the perennially contending coach just weeks after the end of the 2018 season. The Magpies unveiled Ramsay as head coach during early October, and think they have found the right man to drive them towards what would be their first finals berth in over four years.
Ramsay says that a big part of his decision to join the black and white was the similarities he sees between Montmorency’s list and Macleod’s when he began coaching there, drawing comparisons on age, form and culture.
“The ladder position and age group of the players is similar, the young core group of senior footballers at Montmorency have been very respectful and enthusiastic in the conversations we have had, and I am excited to be given the opportunity to help improve the club,” Ramsay told upstart.
“The committee has given me the green light and support to make changes that align with my coaching philosophies and personal core values.”
Coming fresh off three consecutive grand final losses, Ramsay is hungry to be on the other side of history again after lifting the cup which helped end Macleod’s 44-year premiership drought three years ago.
He wants to ensure he lives up to the weight of expectations from a club starved of success, and he sees his time at Macleod as a major learning curve in his coaching career that will help him to do just that.
“The most beneficial part that I have taken away from Macleod is a firm belief that lifestyle choices play a big part in players improving their performances. Most of the senior players at Macleod would train four to five times a week and follow a healthy diet,” he said.
“It became easy for me to help improve the players because they took great pride in improving themselves both on and off the field.”
Although Ramsay was a target for many suburban football clubs, he says the decision to remain in the NFNL was a simple one.
“I have friends that support the Montmorency Senior and Junior Football club, so this made the decision easier. It was comfortable to stay in the NFNL as I have formed many friendships over the last 32 years of playing and coaching,” he said.
Over the course of his six-year development of Macleod, the junior sides at Montmorency have grown stronger and stronger. In that time, the Magpies under-17’s reached five finals series, whilst their under-19’s played in four grand finals, including a 2018 premiership just weeks before Ramsay’s signing.
Ramsay walks into the Para Road clubrooms eager to retain the talented youth at the club rather than go out and recruit several big-name players.
“The main objective and goal for me is to improve the whole club. We want to respect ourselves and have all players reach their full potential. I want to develop Montmorency footballers that are passionate, resilient and expect to win every week,” he said.
Ramsay is also currently in charge of coaching the NFNL representative side and has been a big part of the competition for many years, winning three premierships as a player with Eltham.
He began holding the clipboard in 2000 when he coached Panton Hill for two years, spent a single season at Watsonia before leading Lower Plenty to a division two premiership in 2011.
For Montmorency club president Greg Bowman, landing the signature of Ramsay opens many opportunities for the only club to have never been relegated from NFNL division one football.
“It was Garry’s record of success at a number of clubs where the success was underpinned by the development of people and club culture, rather than being solely focused on recruiting,” Bowman told upstart.
“We wanted someone who could first and foremost develop the talent that was already at our club.”
With every team’s priority to achieve premiership success, it was Ramsay’s track record that made Montmorency’s selection process much simpler, as they decided that he was the man to potentially deliver a flag for the first time since 1979.
Prior to the resignation of former coach Ben Haynes, Montmorency managed to finish ninth, sixth and seventh (twice) in the past four years, struggling to shake the memory of a grand final loss in 2013 to Bundoora.
After the double signing of former AFL footballers Ben Kennedy and Matthew White last offseason, it seemed that Montmorency wanted to lock in a veteran coach before making any player moves this time around.
Ramsay, who has brought with him a team of several respected and experienced NFNL coaches, will look to enable the club right away as teams prepare for their usual pre-season training in November.
Kristian Amenta is a third-year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sport Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter @AmentaKristian
Photo supplied by Montmorency Football Netball Club