Echuca Football Club has ended speculation, signing former premiership player Andrew Briggs as its senior coach for the 2014 Goulburn Valley Football League season.By Luke McManus
Echuca Football Club has found its man.
Andrew Briggs has been appointed senior coach of the Murray Bombers, signing a one-year deal (extension pending) on Monday night, ending months of speculation and shallow rumour which linked former Hawthorn players Brent Guerra and Rick Ladson to the club.
The 31-year-old returns to the Murray Bombers, having played his junior football with Echuca, before coming on board as an assistant coach during 2009-11 seasons.
‘‘Definitely excited about the position,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘It will be a massive job and no doubt a lot of hard work ahead of me. There’s no fairytale in this, I’m aware there will be a lot of hard work to get to the top.’’
Briggs, an adopted Melbournian for the past 13 years, said he always kept an eye on his home club and said Echuca’s off-field leadership, headed by president Brett Stevens, was the biggest drawcard for returning home.
Along with on field success, Briggs was confident he could develop a family-orientated atmosphere, mixed with attracting players, new and old, to the club.
‘‘The club is in really good hands at the moment,’’ he said.
‘‘Brett made it really easily to commit to Echuca and is one of the main reasons why I’ve jumped on board.
‘‘The big thing for me will be not so much bringing new guys in, but getting the guys that have been at the footy club before, or who started their careers at the club, back to their roots and enjoy playing footy at Echuca again.’’
An Echuca lad, Briggs made his senior debut for Echuca in 1999 before moving on to the Bendigo Pioneers and then on to Melbourne, juggling university during the week and travelling back to play football at the weekend.
After playing in Echuca’s 2001 premiership side under the ‘‘influential’’ Ken Sheldon, Briggs earned a spot on Carlton’s VFL list, playing five games during his time at the club under Fremantle coach Ross Lyon.
Briggs then moved to Coburg and played three more seasons at VFL level before arriving at Greenvale in the Essendon and District Football League, where he enjoyed a successful era, winning a premiership in 2007 and losing just five games in three seasons.
In 2009, Echuca called Briggs home and there he became a playing assistant coach to Brett Henderson, running the club’s Melbourne-based training at North Melbourne’s Arden Steet.
At the conclusion of 2011, Briggs briefly retired from football after succumbing to his fifth hip operation, taking a season off before coaching beckoned at University Blues Football Club last year.
‘‘I can’t wait to get back to the home town,’’ he said.
‘‘I had a few offers from other places but didn’t actively seek opportunities, I thought I’d let it takes its course.
‘‘I love the Murray and good weather, but ultimately seeing the place as a player and seeing how other places are run, I see what needs to change at Echuca to make us a force again.
‘‘I just want to coach, and coach a club that’s going to develop and head upwards.’’
Briggs, a teacher, still resides in Melbourne, but is ‘‘working through employment opportunities’’ in Echuca which will see him settled in time for a big pre-season.
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