Allan jumps at Werribee opp

James Allen (Supplied)

Tara Murray

When the Werribee Victorian Football League coaching job became available, James Allan knew it was one that he was keen on.

Having spent two years at the club in the early 2000s as a player, Allan then dominated on the field in the South Australian National Football League, before turning to coaching.

Keen to get into a senior coaching role, Allan didn’t hesitate to apply for the Werribee job, which he would in turn get.

“It’s massive to come back to the club I played at which kick started my senior career,” he said.

“I have great memories and it’s home of sorts, I come from Lara. I’ve had an eye on coaching at a senior level and I felt a strong connection to Werribee.”

Allan said some of his best mates are from his two years as a player at Werribee and he had always kept an eye on the club.

He was back in Melbourne when the news came through that grand final coach Michael Barlow had accepted a role with North Melbourne.

“I felt straight away that I had to have a crack at it or I would never forgive myself,” he said.

“You see senior roles you want to go for, this one was at the perfect time.”

Allan said he was looking forward to coming back to Victoria after 16 years in South Australia.

In his time in South Australian football, he won three Magarey medals as the best player in the SANFL, while winning five club best and fairests with North Adelaide. He also won a premiership with Norwood.

In 2020, he was named as the Rostrevor College first ever football director and coached the school’s top side.

He also coached Norwood’s under-18s side and was an assistant coach for the Redlegs side. Last season he was an assistant coach with North Adelaide.

Allan said he was also keen on coaching after playing football. Being a teacher by trade, it was something that worked hand in hand.

“I love teaching and helping people get better and learning,” he said. “I’m passionate about it.”

Allan met the playing group early last week, before flying back to South Australia. He will be back permanently later this month.

Allan said he instantly felt the culture and strong vibe the club has. He said the job president Mark Penaluna, outgoing football manager and coach Michael Barlow, had put the club in a good place.

“They have a strong focus on trademarks, behaviours and values,” he said. “I value this.

The connection of the group hit me on the first night. There’s a strong connection with the staff and we want to build on that in the next few years.”

Allan also met new footballer manager Ash Collins as its the start of the new beginning for the club.

On field, Michael Sodomaco, Tom Gribble and Matt Hanson have all hung up the boots, which Allan said presents new opportunities for other players.

“They were fantastic servants and legends of the footy club,” he said. “‘I’m excited opportunity for others to step unto those roles.

“It’s hard to replace all three guys. We’ll be a team not reliant on star talent and players can come in and play similar roles.”