It’s been a whirlwind week for new Epping coach Aaron Johnson.
Johnson, who joined the Northern Football League division 2 side in the off season as an assistant coach, has been thrust into the head coaching role.
The Pingers announced on Friday that Greg Whitcroft had stepped down from the role after three seasons in charge because of work commitments.
The club didn’t have to look far promoting Johnson, a premiership player with the club, to the head coaching role.
Johnson said he was excited for the opportunity at a club where he played a lot of football.
“I came across as an assistant coach with the idea to transition into the senior coach next year,” he said. “I had a few discussions with Greg and we thought it was a good time.
“I would have had the position of the senior role in 12 months time, but I would know the playing group and not be coming in cold.
“It’s come 12 months quicker than I expected.”
Johnson said he would meet with the playing group to discuss how things will work going forward.
Johnson coached the Epping reserves while still playing at the club.
Since leaving the Pingers senior program as a player, he has been part of coaching panels at West Preston Lakeside and Greensborough, including coaching under Robert Hyde.
But he hasn’t been completely away from the club, with his children playing in the junior sides.
Johnson said Whitcroft would still be helping out when he could.
For the Pingers, next season will be about building on this season.
They moved into division 2 in the weeks before the season started, after Lalor dropped down a grade, and surprised many sides.
They finished sixth with six wins.
“We want to continue to build that group that is coming through,” Johnson said.
“There’s some really good players coming through between the age of 19-23.
“It’s a really young group. It’s about consolidating and getting them to improve at least 15 per cent and bring in some blokes in the 26-30 range just for on ground leadership as well.”
Johnson said they would continue to work on building up their younger players so they can match it with the bigger bodies or the older players.
At this stage the Pingers have lost just one player, Peter McMahon, who was part of the 2012 premiership team with Johnson.
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