By Matt Fotia
Lilydale’s newly appointed senior coach for season 2022, Luke McCormick, is excited about where the Falcons young list can go, but is warning Falcons fans that there may be some short term pain, before the long term gains.
Lilydale, currently ninth in Division One with a 2-9 record, were on the look out for a new coach after the first year coach Brendan Fulton had to step down from the job for personal reasons. The club has since been steered by Alan Love.
Lilydale were quick to lock McCormick, who has been down at the club in a minor role recently, away and posted the news on their social media recently.
McCormick, who played for Port Melbourne for two seasons, left his post as South Croydon senior coach on the eve of the 2021 season after two seasons at the helm, guiding the Dogs to the 2018 Grand Final and the 2019 Semi-Final, with a need to spend more time with his young family the reason for his departure.
But timing, a family connection and an inability to stay away from local football sees McCormick ready to jump back into the hot seat earlier than planned.
“I needed the rest after doing it (coaching) for so long and I wasn’t expecting to be down here (Lilydale) but it’s just timing isn’t it,” McCormick said of his short break from the game.
“Obviously I have the connection here through my brother-in-law and my nephew (player Nick Del Biondo) and I’ve known a lot of the people in and around the club for a long time,
“When Fults (Brendan Fulton) had to move on, they got in touch with me we had a chat and asked If I’d mind coming down,
“With the connection to the club I just wanted to help where I could, and they asked if I would and it’s a nice little change going down and not being in the top job at the minute, just getting to know everyone and contribute little bits where I can.”
McCormick, who played well over 100 games for East Ringwood during the early 2000’s, has been involved in coaching for over a decade, first taking an assistant role at the Roos before moving to Monbulk in the then Yarra Valley and Mountain District Football League, where he coached for three years.
He also spent time in the Region General Manager’s job for the newly coined AFL Yarra Ranges (now AFL Outer East), before stepping away from the role.
He managed to play two games for Lilydale in 2016, most notably kicking two goals in a big win over Mitcham, before next bobbing up at Cheong Park in 2018, taking over from Leigh Adams.
On paper the job with the Falcons is a step back for McCormick, but the 2002 Premiership Roo is aware that won’t mean there’s any less pressure to succeed.
“Yeah it’s a step back, but where I’m at with my coaching journey and where I’ve been, I just sort of felt that I’ve got enough to offer to help the club out,
“There’s a hell of a lot of pressure at Premier Division football because of the stakes and the quality of players that are running around, but every week, every football club at every level, is always trying get the most out of everyone.”
McCormick was also involved at Eastern Ranges from 2013-2017 as a line coach, an experience he’ll need to call upon when working with Lilydale’s very young list, which was gutted following the 2020 hiatus, with key players moving to all parts of the state/country.
“It’s a very young list and that’s a bit of the enticement to be honest, they’re keen, they’re young and they’re coachable,
“I’m able to build relationships and get to know guys (in 2021), but on a different level to being the head coach,
“I’m looking at what can be taught, where it can be taught, when it can be taught and why it has to be taught.”
McCormick says he and the club have discussed the very real possibility that they will be competing in Division Two next season, and whilst it’s not the ideal outcome, McCormick says it’s not the be all and end all for the football club.
“You have to be realistic, that’s where things sit,
“We haven’t had massive conversations about it (possible relegation) but that’s the realism of it, there’s every chance that will happen,
“We don’t want to, but at the same time every club goes through it and (yes) there would be goals to come back up if it happens, but it’s more about creating an atmosphere where blokes want to be (here).”
“There’s an excitement amongst the place because of how many young blokes are here and how keen they are,
“And that’s exciting to see what I can do with them and see where we can go.”