Nathan Clarke is going home, signing on as co-coach of the Wilston Grange Football Club.
Clarke will oversee the senior football department and will be the QAFL match day coach, while Matt Trewhella will focus on the development of players and coaches from under 12’s right through to seniors.
For Clarke, Wilston Grange has always held a special place in his heart.
“Grange is my family club. I played all of my junior footy there, my dad, Barry, won two Grogan Medals while playing there, was in the team of the century, and played over 200 games,” Clarke said.
“It always has felt right walking through those doors. It definitely feels like home. It’s where I grew up and it’s where I spent so much time.
“I have so many great memories from this place.”
Clarke lands at Grange after coaching the Western Magpies from round 7 onwards in the QAFL in 2016.
“From the distance it probably looks a bit strange that I’ve gone from the Magpies to Grange, but the reality was I got a phone call at the end of round 6 from the Magpies, and because I was already working there doing their leadership stuff, and had a connection with the likes Cal Carseldine and Pete McClennan, I thought I would love to help them out,” he said.
He had a few things to mull over before taking the job at Wilston Grange, but in the end it was the right fit.
“Because of the young family and living on the Sunshine Coast, I’ve resisted the temptation to get involved in the past, but I’m excited to be back,” Clarke said.
“The club have been great assisting me with the Simon Black Academy, which allowed everything to fall into place.
“Having that pre-season makes a huge difference. Training is everything at a footy club, so it’ll be great to work on some things over summer.
A big factor in Clarke’s decision was having Trewhella by his side.
“It is a co-coaching agreement. If we are to have any sort of success, I want Matt to be given credit for it, because he is so integral in the day-to-day running of the club. I wouldn’t have done it without someone like Trow there,” he said.
“He is still really important in terms of welfare and development, and I’ll be able to help him out, and I hope, have some significant influence on match day. “
Trewhella’s new role will allow two things, significant attention on the development pathway at the club, and for him to focus on his playing role come game day.
“As soon as he said yes it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I felt very comfortable. It’s great to have someone of his calibre involved,” Trewhella said.
It’s not just Nathan that will be reuniting with Grange, his brother, Sean, is along for the ride as an assistant.
“That’s the other exciting part. He has been working with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy as a skills coach for the last couple of years. Dad is really excited about us being there as well,” Clarke said.
If you’re looking for proof of just how good it feels for Clarke to be home, take note of his first night at Bendigo Bank Oval.
“When I say to my wife I’ll be home at 7-7:30pm, ill just drop in a say g’day to a few people and shoot off, and then I’m still at the footy club at 7:30pm, it reminds me of two things. It was like a big reunion seeing people I haven’t seen in so long, and it was just such a good feeling to be back there,” he said.
This announcement means Wilston Grange now have their senior coaching panel finalised, with Cam Burnside and David Tough joining Sean as assistant coaches, and Eric Muench coming on board as the ruck coach.
By Andrew Wiles