New Westmeadows senior coach Grant Smith has enjoyed a whirlwind few days.
Smith, who has been coaching the under-19.5 side, led his team to premiership glory on Sunday morning in the Essendon District Football League division 1 under-19.5 grand final.
In a thrilling match, the Tigers won 6.10 (46)-6.7 (43).
While celebrations were underway, the club announced Smith would step up and coach the senior side next season, replacing Dave Connell. Connell stood down from the senior role three quarters of the way through the season.
Smith said he had never planned on taking the senior role, with his first focus always being making the under-19 program strong.
“I was sat down about five years ago with the president at the time and the football manager Danny [Hale] and helped write the operational plan,” Smith said.
“I’d always stuck with the 19s, as the biggest thing for the club was getting the under-16s through to under-19s.
“When I started we had eight under-18 [now under-19s] players. Now we have 45.
“It made sense for me to go through to the senior level with them. I started talking to the president a few weeks ago after Dave [Connell] left.”
Having coached most of the players in the past few years, Smith already has a good grip on the playing list.
He said that despite missing finals this year, the senior side has the basis of a really good squad.
“One of the things we talked about, myself, Dave [Connell] and Anthony Montrose [reserves coach], was looking where we had gaps at a senior level.
“We found we were a little small and lacked some pace. We decided to try some of the under-19s.
“We played 15 of them this year to give them experience for the next couple of years.
“We finished only four points outside the four. We didn’t finish high, but not far off it.”
Smith said early signs were that most of the players would return next year, while adding some much-needed height across the whole ground would be the recruiting priority.
“We need some big guys,” he said. “We’re going to look at 19 to 23-year-olds as there’s no point getting 35-year-old who is finishing his career, as they won’t fit with our playing group.
“We’re looking to give players a chance to develop themselves.”