By Alesha Capone
Phil Crea says a major highlight of his time coaching at the Glen Orden Hawks was helping bring the club back from recession into the Western Region Football League (WRFL).
The Werribee club last week announced that Crea had decided to step down as coach next season.
The statement thanked Crea “for his outstanding contribution and the legacy he has built at our club”.
“Without Phil putting his hand up to coach the club back in 2018, we wouldn’t have a club today,” the statement read.
“Not only was he successful in getting the club back on the ground with two senior teams after a year in recession, but won a senior premiership in 2019.”
In 2017, Glen Orden experienced a mass exodus of players, leading to the recession.
Some remaining players approached the club’s president and said they would like Crea to come on board as coach.
Crea, who is now 49, previously spent six seasons playing for the Hawks while in his mid-thirties.
Crea said that in 2017, while working with then-assistant coach Darren Edwards, they played “a big part” in building the club back up.
He said it was “great to win premierships” but helping the club out of recession was among his favourite memories.
“It’s definitely been my highlight, to see the club up and running again,” Crea said.
Crea said he has “enjoyed every minute” with the Hawks, even the challenges.
“You have just got to believe in your own abilities and hopefully that rubbed off on the players, “ he said.
Crea said stepping down as coach had always been part of his plan.
“I’ve always said as a coach that after three or four years I would walk away, as I believe the players need new blood in the role,” he said.
However, Crea will still have plenty of reasons to watch Glen Orden’s matches, as his son Sam is captain of the Hawks’ seniors.
Crea’s other son Matthew – along with foster sons Ashley, Patrick and Jack, and his godson Tim Johnson – also play for the team, or have played for the side in recent years.
Crea said that stepping down as coach would provide him with more time to spend with his children and grandchildren, and in his ongoing role as coach of the Grand United Cricket Club in Sunshine.