Velt?s farewell year

REGARDLESS of what the 2005 North Coast AFL season brings, it will be North Coffs coach Dave Velt's last.

Velt yesterday announced he would retire at the end of this season and admitted he was close to calling it quits after the Kangaroos bagged an incredible fourth straight flag in 2004.

It wasn't until Velt sat down and had a heart-to-heart with a group of senior players at the club's 2004 presentation dinner that the straight-shooting coach decided to call the shots for one more season.

"Mate, I was really close (to retiring)," Velt said.

"I sat down with a couple of mates, a couple of senior players who I really respect, and decided I would do it again.

"We all decided to have one crack at five in a row."

The Kangaroos have lost a number of players during the off-season, with 2004 captain Peter Chadwick the biggest name to depart.

But in their place will be another crop of youngsters ready to step up to senior footy.

"We've lost about half a dozen players, but we always lose a few so I am not panicking about it," Velt said.

"Our stocks have slipped a bit, but I still believe we have the makings of a premiership side.

"We have a couple of young guys like Tom Merrick and Ryan Wood who are ready for seniors and Grant Booth will play Under-18s and seniors.

"We will rely on our junior production line again, it's no myth that our kids have won us the last four premierships."

Velt, who will be 42 by the time the 2005 season kicks off, is confident he can bow out of football with a fifth straight premiership.

"For this time of the year, we are looking pretty good, although things could always be better," he said.

"The spirit in the team is good and it is an honour to attempt to coach a team to five premierships, not many people get that chance."

Velt says the Roos' biggest challenge will come from Port Macquarie, who will have spent the summer seething after losing yet another decider to the blue and whites.

"Port will be our biggest threat," he said.

"One team, one city, they will be chasing us hard."

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