PENOLA Football Club dropped a bombshell last week when it was announced Matt Scanlon would join the club for the 2020 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara football season.
The former East Gambier premiership coach will don the blue strip as a player, with the club and Scanlon keen to kick off the new season together.
Incoming Penola coach Tony Porter said he was excited to have Scanlon on board, while the new recruit was equally as pleased to work with Porter next year.
“Tony has really recharged my footy batteries,” Scanlon said.
“I was a bit flat and stagnant, while he is really intense and passionate.
“The way people speak about him, I can tell we are going to get along well.
“I look forward to working with him, learning from him and bouncing ideas off him.”
It was that flatness which caused Scanlon to look for a new football home.
After the success of the Bulldogs in recent years he said he felt it was time to move on.
“After three years of coaching at East, working hard and getting the ultimate goal, I found it hard to strive for success after that,” Scanlon said.
“I had a pretty interrupted year after 2017 with work, then I went overseas for a bit.
“I did not play a lot, but then I fully committed for 2019 and we had a good season.
“I felt my time was done there, I had done all I could do.”
Scanlon said there was an opportunity to coach again at East, but he felt it was time to step away.
He said there was also interest from other clubs in the Mid South East league, but Penola got the nod.
“There were a few offers from other clubs and Penola came along late,” Scanlon said.
“Penola was one of the clubs when I first came down coaching which was reasonably successful.
“They have a good list and from all reports everyone around the
club is welcoming and friendly.
“They love their club and I found that very attractive.
“I think I have a few more years to give and the decision to go to Penola felt comfortable.
“It is a different style of footy, a little bit more open and is another new challenge for me.”
Porter recently spoke about the professionalism of players who have joined the Eagles’ nest, such as Simon Berkefeld, Brock Egan and Brad Bryant.
He said the way they prepare themselves is valuable to the younger players coming through the system.
Scanlon said he hopes to have a similar effect on the club.
“I’m big on not wasting the coach’s time during the week, doing as much as you can underneath the coach,” Matt Scanlon said.
“Outside the training nights there is time to work hard, but come Saturday it is about being relaxed and focused.
“It seems like those guys are sponges, so anything I can pass on will be good.”
Porter also suggested Scanlon would provide good on-field leadership, with a big group of young players waiting in the wings to be mentored.
That is another area which helped tip Penola in Scanlon’s favour.
“There have been a lot of good kids come out of Penola, go up to Glenelg and do well, then come back,” Scanlon said.
“At the moment they have a really good crop of 17s who are willing to work hard.
“I do enjoy working with the young guys, teaching them the basics and the things I went through growing up.
“It is something I look forward to as a bit of a mentor through the week and hopefully they go on to play some good footy.
“If we can make a little nest egg where you can breed good juniors I would like to be a part of it.”
At this stage Scanlon said there had been no real decision about his position on the field, but he said Porter had mentioned the spine between half back and the forward line.
He said he was happy to slot in where the team needed him.
Overall Scanlon said the decision to leave the Bulldogs was tough, but one he felt he had to make.
He said the support since the announcement had been overwhelming.
“It was a tough decision and I lost a lot of sleep over it ,” Scanlon said.
“I kept it really private because I did not want too many outside opinions.
“I made the decision and it felt like a big weight off my shoulders.
“I have been a bit overwhelmed with the messages, the texts, the phone calls and the thanks from the players, support staff and spectators from East.
“It was a bit emotional at one stage – you do not realise what you might have done over the journey for some of the young kids.
“I love East but felt it was time for me personally to move on – I needed a freshen up.
“After all the messages the decision felt right.
“I wish East all the best for next year and moving on.”