Thursday 23 September 2010

Retired Southport coach Craig Crowley will take a year off from football to re-charge the batteries after 40 years of constant involvement in the game.

Crowley admitted his last five years in charge of the Sharks had been far tougher than he expected going into the role.

“I always thought that to be coach of Southport would be a pretty easy gig, but it is far more taxing because of the expectations there,” he said.

“That expectation is pretty much to play in the grand final every year or two.”

Crowley won two premierships, finished second once, and third the last two years in his 107-game coaching stint, at which time he became the first man to both play and coach 100 games with the Sharks.

Ironically, it is an identical record to Morningside master coach John Blair over the same period.

Crowley, who never once refused an interview request during the Sharks’ tough losing sequence late in the season and always spoke in a measured manner, was the first to put his hand up and say the team did not measure up in 2010.

“I believe, and the club believes, that we had a reasonably strong list this season and probably should have produced better,” he said.

Crowley agreed the quality of the competition was improving every year to challenge the traditional super-power Sharks.

“The top four sides this year were all very good,” he said. “We wanted the competition to get stronger and it has.”

Crowley added the ongoing presence of Labrador and Broadbeach in the QAFL was no impacting on the Sharks, who prior to 1997 had a monopoly on quality players lured to the Gold Coast.

The Broadbeach job is up for grabs for next season, but Crowley said he would not be applying.

“I’m going to have a year off, I haven’t had one off since I was eight,” he said. “I’ve been through that pleasurable grind of going to training night after night for 40 years and it’s time to give a bit back to my family.”

Crowley’s two premierships were the highlight of his coaching career, plus having had some influence on a number of young players who have graduated to the AFL system.

In 2006, he moulded a team brimful of teenagers into a premiership-winning unit, while he again had a significant influence in 2008 when a plan to wear down lone Morningside ruckman Jacob Gough paid dividends in the last 15 minutes of the grand final.

Crowley will undergo a level 3 coaching course shortly and is keen to continue his involvement with the State team program, where he has been an assistant for the past three years.  

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