Thomastown has appointed the experienced Mario Bandera as its senior coach for the next two Northern Football League seasons.

The Bears announced on Wednesday the signing of Bandera, who they are hoping can help them take the next step.

Bandera said he was excited by the opportunity to return to the Northern Football League.

He comes to the Bears having coached his junior club Ivanhoe in the Victorian Amateur Football Association this year. Previously, he coached Epping to a NFL division 2 premiership in 2012 and took Eltham to a division 1 preliminary final in 2015.

He has twice won the Australian Football Coaches Association’s northern region senior coach of the year award.

He also has an extensive playing career, playing with Ivanhoe, North Heidelberg and Lower Plenty.

“To be honest, I’m really excited,” he said.

“I’m surprised how excited I’m considering I’ve been doing it for 10 years.

“The couple of coaching stints, I’m been helping people out and I’ve been happy to take the back seat. In the end I wasn’t enjoying that.”

Having coach against the Bears previously, Bandera said some of the traits that had impressed him back then were still keys now.

He said they were a hard side to break on the field with a lot of determination.

The other factor for Bandera was the current playing group.

“The boys have impressed me,” he said.

“There’s a fair bit of talent on the list with a couple of experienced older players. There’s some in their mid-20s and a lot around 18, 19. To me that says there’s a lot of upside.”

Thomastown president Rob Mazniovski said they couldn’t turn down someone with the experience of Bandera.

“It’s exciting to have such an experienced coach come to Thomastown,” Mazniovski said.

“He has the professionalism and the strong drive and was attracted by the young list. He wants to help harness that potential.”

Bandera comes to the Bears having coached his junior club Ivanhoe in the Victorian Amateur Football Association this year. Previously, he coached Epping to a NFL division 2 premiership in 2012 and took Eltham to a division 1 preliminary final in 2015.

He has twice won the Australian Football Coaches Association’s northern region senior coach of the year award.

He also has an extensive playing career, playing with Ivanhoe, North Heidelberg and Lower Plenty.

Mazniovski said having someone with a large knowledge of the league would be beneficial.

Thomastown has made division 2 finals the last two years, but have been knocked out in the first week both times.

“We’ve got a young group with so much more potential than what we have got out of them,”  Mazniovski said.

“They have done well, but we can take that next step.

“We’re confident Mario’s coaching style compliments them.”

Bandera met the playing group on Tuesday night for the first time.

Scott Plant, who took over coaching when the club parted ways with Ben Chapman mid season, remains on as a senior assistant coach.

Mazniovski said Plant had done a really good in getting the side into finals

“We’re rapt to have him as he did a fantastic job getting us into finals,” he said.

“He built the excitement back into the boys and he’s excited himself to work with Mario and learn some things from him.”

Mazniovski and Bandera said they would start working behind the scenes to add some talent and depth to the list.

Bandera said he didn’t think they needed much.