Originally written by Spectator-Observer Partnership
HEATHMERE has signed Portland premiership player Joel Barclay as its new assistant coach.
The versatile big man will be a huge asset for the club, both in his ability to play almost anywhere on the ground and also for his enthusiasm and energy around the club.
“He is really committed,” coach Alister Stannard said.
“He is taking on the coaching role really well.
“We have been for a few runs together and he is already talking tactics and game plans which is good to see.
“He is also such a versatile player. We can throw him into the ruck or he can hold down anywhere up the spine, or even a half-back flank.”
Barclay said he had decided to make the move for a number of reasons, including the limits shift work put on his time and the opportunity to gain coaching experience.
“Work was a fair motivating reason plus I have a lot of family ties at Heathmere,” Barclay said.
“There is also the coaching opportunity and also it is just a change, with new roles to play that will mean I will have to step up.”
Barclay said he was enjoying the flow of ideas between Stannard and himself, saying it was a good partnership because both players were already mates.
“It is good, because I already know Al pretty well through cricket and just from around Portland, so he is happy to ask for my opinion and I also feel really comfortable in discussing any ideas I might have with him.”
Stannard said he had to chase Barclay “fairly hard” before signing him.
“Yeah, being a mate of mine I had him around for a few beers and a few games of Playstation cricket during discussions while he thought about it,” Stannard said.
“I know what Joel can do and I knew that shift work was making it pretty hard for him at Portland so I was keen to get him here, so there was a bit of wining and dining involved.”
Barclay said Stannard initially approached him last year about changing clubs.
“Al first spoke to me last year, and I though about it but I was not quite ready.
“When he asked me this year and brought up the coaching role I felt more comfortable making the change.”
“It was a big move, and I thought about it for a long time.”
Barclay’s former coach at Portland, Brodie Atkinson, said he was surprised and disappointed to hear Barclay was going to Heathmere.
“I was disappointed and very surprised to hear Joel Barclay was going to Heathmere,” Atkinson said.
“You can understand with an older player dropping back for coaching opportunities, but Joel is certainly not in that category.
“His football was really starting to come along, so why a young player would drop down to a lower league I do not know.”
The addition of Barclay to the Heathmere line up puts it in a good position to challenge league heavyweight Tyrendarra.
“I think last year Heathmere was very unlucky to lose the grand final to Tyrendarra,” Barclay said.
“The way things are coming together at the club this year I would say we will be very competitive against them this year.
“Not just us, but a lot of other teams have recruited well, so this year should be much more even than last season.
“I am just hoping to enjoy my footy and make the finals.
“Do that and we can set new goals.”