New Rivergum coach-captain Matthew Perri has some big shoes to fill at the North Metro Cricket Association club.
Perri, who won Bill McFarlane Medal as the competition’s best player earlier this year, takes over the coaching role after Gary Bell stood down after 13 years in charge.
Bell leaves at lasting legacy at the Kookas, with the club having made the last eight Jika Shield grand finals, winning four of them.
He also oversaw the club earning promotion from the Quick Shield, with the club winning that title in 2009-10
Perri, who has been part of all of those premierships, was full of praise for the job that Bell had done.
“Hopefully I can do half the job that he did,” he said.
“He’s done an amazing job at the club and earned life membership.”
Perri said he had long wanted to coach Rivergum, having previously coached elsewhere.
He’s pretty stoked to get the opportunity at a club he’s played most of his cricket.
“I’ve definitely been interested in it,” he said.
“I left the club six or seven years ago to captain-coach a side.
“I wanted to come back and they said you would be next in line [to coach].
“Belly was doing a great job and kept winning flags. Once he stood down, we spoke about it and then went through the interview process.”
Perri said one of the biggest things that had contributed to success of the club, was that the playing group remained together.
Seven of this year’s grand final team all played together in under-13s.
At this stage Bell appears to be the only out from the team.
Sean Neary, who has been part of a couple of premierships at the Kookas, is returning.
“We’ll still be challenging for another flag,” Perri said.
“There’s also a lot of talent coming through. The twos have won three flags in a row and the thirds have won a couple.
“Hopefully I’ll have a few selection headaches next season.”
Perri, who admitted that he barely trained before the start of last season, said things would change for the upcoming season.
Perri, who plays Wallan in the Riddell District Football League, juggles both sports each year.
He said attending training might help take his game to the next level.
“I’ve had a chat with the club and they are cool for me to have a few sessions off towards the end of the footy season.
“It’ll make sure I’m there at more sessions and to coach the guys.”