Coast on the Blight track
IN a major boost for foundation mentor Guy McKenna, new Gold Coast board member Malcolm Blight urged the budding AFL franchise to maintain coaching stability in its formative years.
After his appointment was announced by GCFC chairman John Witheriff yesterday, Blight wasted no time settling in.
The 1978 Brownlow Medalist and Adelaide Crows two-time premiership coach (1997-98) said he would be taking a hands-on role with the Coast franchise, being involved in everything from assisting the football department, headed by coach McKenna, to helping the club scout and recruit “the best available player talent”.
“What we now need to do is set up a football department that hopefully from day one can be exciting and competitive,” Blight said.
“I have been around long enough to hopefully add something to the coaching panel, generally look at the whole football department as a whole and get it up to speed in the next 18 months.”
With that in mind, he said it would make sense to retain McKenna for the club's official 2011 AFL debut.
Officially, Gold Coast CEO Travis Auld will decide the fate of McKenna - whose contract expires at the end of next season - by mid-2010.
But Blight all but anointed McKenna as the man to take the Coast into its historic first AFL season.
For good measure, Blight will act as a mentor for McKenna.
“I admire Guy for putting his hand up to be here, he took up a tremendous challenge,” Blight said.
“And as a football club I think we should support everything he does from here on in.
“Stability for a club is very important.
“We have got to learn from other clubs and codes - if we can keep things stable we have got more of a chance to be successful earlier.”
Blight conceded it would be tough to ditch McKenna on the eve of the club's AFL debut after he had put in the “hard yards”.
McKenna - a former West Coast star player and Collingwood assistant coach - is currently grooming a young Gold Coast side in the TAC Cup (under-18s) competition.
But as part of his new role, Blight also wants to oversee the club's player recruitment.
“Look, there's a whole lot of water to go under the bridge but the club has a responsibility to Gold Coast people to get the best people available,” Blight said.
Adelaide forward and Gold Coast product Kurt Tippett is expected to be high on his hit list.
And it's the challenge and excitement of what lies ahead which has prompted Blight to join the Coast's cause.
“In my playing and coaching days I have been pretty fortunate to be involved in some firsts,” he said.
“It just seemed like a nice fit to do another on a board level, to try and help the Gold Coast team.”