Chris Scott will be the man to lead the Geelong Football Club into the future.
A relatively surprising choice, Scott was announced as the new coach of the Cats for the next three years earlier today. He replaces Mark Thompson, one of club’s the most successful coaches in its proud history.
He now has the very tricky assignment of reigniting an ageing but highly credentialed list. He will be under an enormous amount of pressure and scrutiny too because the Geelong board have already made it clear they expect the team to push for another premiership as soon as possible.
Scott has big shoes to fill. During Thompson’s 11 years as senior coach, the Cats won two premierships from three grand finals, produced 15 different All-Australian players and between the 2007 and 2010 seasons won 83 from 100 games.
However Scott fits the Cats’ fresh-faced criteria perfectly. He’s under the age of 40, hails from a successful environment and has premiership experience as a leader.
While the 34-year-old is considered very young to be a senior AFL coach, he brings an invaluable amount of experience to an already successful club. He played 215 games for Brisbane and was the vice-captain during the 2001 and 2002 premierships.
Scott’s time as an assistant coach with Fremantle also shouldn’t be underestimated. During his three years with the Dockers, he looked after the team’s defensive line and formed a solid back six that grew in confidence particularly during the past season.
There is no doubt that when Geelong and North Melbourne clash next year it will be one of the most fascinating and hyped games of the season. For the first time in AFL history – possibly in Australian sporting history – twin brothers will go up against each other in the coaches’ box when Scott takes on his brother Brad.
So who did Scott beat for the job? He defeated an initial list of around 120 potential coaches and a shortlist of four, which included Gold Coast assistant Ken Hinkley and Geelong assistant Brenton Sanderson.
Hinkley was favoured to get the job according to the majority of media reports due to the fact he is a former player and life member of Geelong and was highly regarded during his six seasons under Thompson. Sanderson was also a well-respected player and assistant coach with the Cats.
Geelong CEO Brian Cook hopes that Sanderson will ‘get over’ his unsuccessful attempt to become a senior coach, stay on with the Cats and remain ‘an integral part of the club for a long time’. If he does leave, the Cats will be on the prowl for a senior assistant coach due to Scott’s inexperience as a senior coach.
Despite the loss of Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett and the recent retirement of hard man Max Rooke, the Cats’ list is still a plethora of talent. There are young players such as Daniel Menzel, Mitch Brown and Allen Christensen who have been given little to no opportunities to show their full potential, while Joel Selwood and Travis Varcoe still have plenty of improvement left in them.
Although many have been left perplexed by the recruitment of Scott, what is certain is that the Cats want a fresh start. Maybe a brand new coach is the catalyst for change they need.