By Russell Bennett
FORMER Beaconsfield premiership-winning coach Clint Evans has reunited with another of his former sides – Lang Lang.
But he’s made one thing clear right from the outset: “There can’t be any excuses – there can’t be any easy way out”.
‘Boofa’, as he’s affectionately known, doesn’t do things by halves.
He was going to take a two-year break from footy after parting ways with the Eagles at the end of the season, but when the Tigers came calling in their hour of need, Evans answered.
And now that he’s back in, he’s all in.
He coached the club from 2007 to 2010, which included a grand final appearance. The former Beaconsfield midfield gun then spent a year at Hampton Park and moved back to Beaconsfield in 2012 as an understudy to Aussie Jones. Having already won two flags as a player at the club, he took over as senior coach in 2013 and made a preliminary final that year before coaching the Eagles to a premiership in 2014.
He knows what success looks like, and he knows what it takes to achieve the ultimate.
The Tigers have been through a rough trot in recent times, but their core stable of young guns looks set to carry them forward in a new era under Evans, who has signed on for two years.
“To be honest I probably knocked back four or five (clubs) because I just wanted a rest after doing it (coaching) for so long,” Evans said.
“But then I went and had a think about it. The club (Lang Lang) told me they were coming from a fair way back with a really young group as well, so I went and had a think about it and started to get a little bit excited. We then had another chat and I was excited by the challenge again.
“When I came here in 2007 the club was in a similar position – they’d finished third bottom but the kids were really good.
“I know the joint and love the footy club, and had a ball when I was here last so I thought I’d come down and teach the boys a bit and go from there. That’s how it all happened.”
If Evans wasn’t approached by some of his great mates at the club, he would have stepped back from coaching altogether. But now that he’s committed, he’s throwing everything into the role.
He recently sat down with a core group of Tigers players who hadn’t yet committed for 2017, merely to tell them what he was all about as a coach. By the end of that meeting, they’d signed on again.
“We’re under no illusions about how hard it’s going to be,” Evans said.
“But we can point the boys in the right direction of where we want to get to, instead of accepting losing and not worrying about it.
“Win, lose, or draw you come out here to enjoy your footy but it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re winning – especially for the young kids because they probably haven’t felt that success yet and they don’t know anything different but the harder you work, the more results start to fall your way.
“The club has really got on the front foot this year to get the coach early and recruit early so the blokes who’ve been undecided can see what we’re doing and want to jump on-board.
“We don’t want boys jumping on in December – we want them doing it now.
“If they’re going to be a part of it, we want them to be a part of it through the good and the bad times – that’s our focus at the moment, and more importantly getting good people here. If they don’t want to be here, then see ya later. We’ll sign their clearance and away they go.”
The likes of midfield guns Dylan Wilson and Sean Dwyer have signed on again – proving their commitment to the club.
“We’ll be competitive,” Evans said.
“We want to be a contested unit, but also you’ve got to be smart with how you play contested footy as well.
“You can’t be jumping on each other trying to get the footy, and that’s the thing – my philosophy isn’t just about marks, handballs and kicks.
“It’s about what you’re doing when you haven’t got the ball. If your team mate is in there, what are you doing to help him?
“In the end it’s an easy game. There are three elements – you’ve got it, they’ve got it, and the ball’s in dispute. That’s it. When they’ve got it, what are you doing? Where are you supposed to be?
“They’re all little things, but they’re things you can coach.
“The number one thing is getting the boys on board – if they’re all playing for each other and headed in the right direction then you’re half a chance.”
While the focus is on retaining the core group, Lang Lang will also be recruiting players in areas of need. The club will have a ‘meet the coach’ day on Sunday, 6 November at the clubrooms at the Lang Lang Showgrounds. For more information, visit their Facebook page.