Hart packs his axe to lead Magpies? return
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
MONTHS of speculation ended this week with the appointment of Brad Hart to coach Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo when they return to the fields of Group 2 in 2007.
After 14 seasons at Coramba as the Axemen's most honoured servant, Hart views the switch as a win for all parties.
"For Orara, it gives the club a chance to clear the decks and get on with re-building," he said. "As for myself, I was getting stale and already I can feel a new lease on life for whatever time I have left in the game."
Hart admits the pressure of recent seasons had robbed him of enthusiasm. "Did I really look like that?" he asked, when told he didn't appear to be enjoying himself during his final year in green and gold.
"After all those years on top and being coach for five of them, the pressure was always there.
"The expectation to win can change the way people see you."
While he hoped confirmation of the appointment wouldn't leak until after Orara Valley's presentation night, now the news is in the public domain, Hart is happy to 'go with the flow'.
Not long after a mid-June crisis meeting, a select group were let into the secret the Magpies were interested in signing Hart and opinions were quietly canvassed.
But a formal approach wasn't made until the Axemen were eliminated from the semi-finals.
"The Saturday after we bowed out to Macleay Valley I was asked aside for a chat," he said.
"I have to say I was interested from the start and when Pete Denham, Maurie Hulbert and Steve Glyde shook my hand after we did the deal, there was this great relief.
"We haven't gone too far into a plan for the future but a couple of things are obvious."
Like speaking to the former Magpies playing with other teams during the year in hibernation to gauge interest in returning.
"Once we get a core group together we'll add to them," Hart added.
"From the start we want to get a good feeling back into the place with guys who are keen to enjoy their footy.
"It's much too early to start talk of winning premierships and that sort of thing; we're starting afresh and building from there."
After being with a club that's been part of his family's life for so long, Hart admits he's sad to be leaving.
"We'll never be truly gone from Orara Valley," he said.
"Great club with wonderful people.
"Those are the things I want to see continue at Bellingen so it's not such a great change."