While none has been bigger than Coburg returning to standalone status with the Richmond alignment coming to an end, there have also been the clubs failed stint at Craigieburn’s Highgate Reserve as a home venue, the constant changes for the naming rights sponsorship of Coburg City Oval, and the standard changes to personnel regarding players, coaches and staff.
For Carnell however, a change will occur for him and his football on a personal front.
While he is happy to remain captain for a seventh consecutive season, a position he has held since Paul Shelton’s departure at the 2008 season’s end, Carnell is also ready to groom the next captain in waiting, if required. More importantly, however Carnell will be occupied with another crucial role to go with his leadership duties.
He will take on the role of a playing assistant coach-a role that is quite common within a footballing capacity at a high level in this day and age-especially for players nearing the twilight of their careers. Carnell will be the forward line coach in 2015, with Marcus Hastings assisting Nick with game day duties, whilst Nick continues to focus on his playing role.
The 2014 season for Carnell was no doubt an interesting one. He went into the season as the only player on Coburg’s list to have more than 100 games experience under his belt, however, he was well down on form following his solid 2013 season. The highlight of his 2014 was undoubtedly reaching the 150 game milestone, a milestone he always wanted to achieve nowhere else but at Coburg.
Carnell said since Coburg returned to stand alone VFL status, he has enjoyed his footy compared to his previous seasons when at the club, rather than having the presence of the Richmond listed players only around on game day.
“I enjoyed this year a lot more than previous seasons, it became more of a football club as one and it gave us the opportunity to implement and establish a new culture without Richmond’s involvement, and as the Coburg Football club itself.”
While Carnell’s plan following his retirement from football was to move into coaching, it was fast tracked following a mid-year discussion with Senior Coach Peter German and Club General Manager Craig Lees.
“When Leesy&Germo came up with the idea of me becoming a part-time assistant coach, I jumped at it-I see being able to learn under Germo as the perfect apprenticeship for myself to becoming a coach. He has the ability to influence, he makes you want to work hard for him, and has the ability to influence you. He simplifies the game plan, as it revolves around being more of a team game.”
Coburg General Manager Craig Lees said it was an easy decision to offer Nick the role. “Nick has all the attributes to be a very good Senior Coach- his care, empathy and leadership is undoubtedly of high quality and Nick is a true clubman, which is a great influence on our young group which is helping build our strong culture”.
While he no doubt credits German as one of the best coaches he has played under, he also credits his coaches from his teenage years-his former Northern Knights TAC Cup under 18 coach Neil Connell, as well as Andy Collins, who was credited with enticing Carnell to Coburg after being overlooked in the 2005 AFL draft.
“While I was in the under 18’s Neil Connell was the one who taught me all about unity, while Collo in my early days at Coburg was the one who explained the importance of work ethic with regards to success.”
While Carnell you could say is on the home stretch of his career at City Oval, he foresees nothing but promising signs and exciting times ahead for the Coburg Football Club.
“With the group that I’ve seen over the pre-season, I can definitely see us making the finals in the next few seasons, we’ve got new recruits that are young and enthusiastic blended in with the experience already present at the club, we have the right mix. How far we go will be determined by the players, on our own-it is up to us as a team.”
Although Carnell has no doubt been working hard this preseason with the added responsibilities, the Coburg Football Club and all involvedwould like to wish him and the lovely Jenna all the best at their wedding this Saturday.