Heath Pritchard will coach Melton South for the rest of the Ballarat Football League season, after a coaching reshuffle.
The winless Panthers sacked co-coach Ash Manning earlier this week, with fellow co-coach Brendan Fevola stepping down into an assistant coaching role.
Acting Panthers president Matthew Collins said it had been a hard decision to part ways with Manning.
“It didn’t come lightly,” Collins said.
“We thought we were heading in different directions. We didn’t see eye to eye on a number of things.
“He’s a good person. I, and the club, wish him all the best.”
Manning told the Ballarat Courier he felt harshly done by.
He was in his first year as senior coach at the club, having previously played in the club’s only premiership.
He had previously coached Glenroy, Tullamarine and Lancefield.
“Am I disappointed? Bloody oath I am. I’ve been working my absolute backside off,” he told The Courier.
“I’m not blaming anyone, but in my opinion I’ve worked my backside off to try and make the club better.
“I think the club had to go backwards in some respects before it could go forward, we had to get a lot of things right that the club had wrong.”
Collins said timing constraints were behind the decision by Fevola to step down to an assistant role.
The gun full forward has played just one game this year due to an achilles injury.
Collins said he would miss the next few weeks as he continued to struggle with that injury.
“Last year when we signed him, he didn’t have The Footy Show commitments,” he said.
“It was taking up a lot of time along with his radio show and it makes it hard for him to get to the ground.”
The club didn’t waste anytime in appointing a new coach with Heath Pritchard named coach for the rest of the season.
Pritchard took training on Tuesday night and Collins said they were impressed with first impressions.
“We are hopeful that we can turn things around. We’re not going into it expecting things to turn around in one week.
“We are confident that Heath can do the job.”
Pritchard said he knows he has a challenge ahead of him for the rest of the season as he tries to help the side rise up the ladder.
The new coach played his junior football at the Panthers and was on the committee for a number of years.
“It’s disappointing for Ash to leave in the manner he has,” Pritchard said.
“I’ll try and push the club together and build on what Ash has been doing with the club and hopefully we’ll get a few wins.
“To be fair to Ash he could have had a few wins on the board, but it didn’t happen.”
Pritchard brings vast football experience into the role.
He’s been a runner at VFL side Port Melbourne for the last six years, is president and coaches one of the junior sides at Eynesbury Eagles Football Club and is also on the AFL Goldfields commission.
He said he would take a recess from the commission, but would continue in his roles at the Eagles.
Pritchard said he would bring a lot of what he learnt at Port Melbourne into the role.
“I’ve been lucky to have worked with Gary Ayres for six years,” he said.
“He encouraged me to take on this coaching role.
“To have someone like him prepared to help me in any away he can is helpful.”
Former Panthers coach Matthew Sutton will be an assistant coach for the rest of the season.
-With the Ballarat Courier