EDENHOPE-APSLEY is setting itself for another tilt at the Horsham District Football League premiership next season after signing new playing-coach Grant Coxon.
Coxon, a big-bodied 32-year-old utility, joins the Saints after crossing from Western Border Football League side Casterton.
He replaces former co-coaches Mal Coutts and James Dixon.
Coutts will coach Pimpinio next season, while Dixon has returned to former Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara Football League club Naracoorte.
Coxon said he moved to the region for business and personal reasons and was excited to take the Saints forward next year.
“I reckon I’m one of the luckiest district league coaches to have been appointed this year,” he said.
“It’s pretty exciting to be able to come into a club that just won the league’s champion club award, where the reserves came within a point of winning a premiership and the seniors made a preliminary final.”
Coxon said the club’s premiership window was still open after retaining almost all of its players from last season.
With Casterton and Sandford in talks about a merger in the Western Border league, Coxon said he was hopeful he could convince some of his former team-mates to also cross to the Saints.
“Nothing else but a premiership would be acceptable really,” he said.
“The reserves were so close for two years and the seniors had a hiccup in the preliminary final this year but the mindset is the same for everyone around the club that we have to make it happen.”
Coxon has previous coaching experience with Casterton and was a premiership player for Eastern Football League side Ringwood in 2005.
He also has plenty of interleague experience and captained the Western Border side last year.
With the departure of key forward target James Dixon, Coxon said he would change the Saints’ forward structure to make the side less predictable going into attack.
New Edenhope-Apsley president Wayne Caldow said the club was thrilled to have Coxon on board for next season.
He said things looked promising for the Saints, who retained most of their key players including this year’s co-Dellar Family medallist Brent Christie.
Caldow said Coxon would get the best out of the Saints players.
“As a president I’ve been impressed with his skill of getting people on board and really being able to talk to the players,” he said.
“All coaches like to think they’ve got it, but he’s got a great rapport with the players, which holds him in good stead.”
Caldow paid tribute to outgoing coaches Dixon and Coutts along with former club president Laurie Close, who he said left the club in a great position.