Walton to power family club next season
AUSSIE RULES: Depth and maturity are two primary targets of incoming Bay Power coach Kristian Walton.
Walton, better known as "Ginge”, as formally unveiled as the new Bay Power coach at a meeting on Tuesday night.
"I'm rapt with it. It's something we spoke about early in the season, but it was whether the club wanted me to do it and if I wanted to do it, I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunity,” he said.
His appointment brings a formal end to Michael Gay's five-year tenure as the club's senior coach.
Under Gay, the Power went from perennial strugglers to grand finalists in 2016 and the elimination final (2017) and preliminary final (2018).
Walton praised the work of his predecessor, under whom he served as assistant coach this year, though flagged the side's depth as an area he wanted to hit - and quickly - to give the family club its best chance of claiming a maiden AFL Wide Bay flag.
"Being the assistant coach this year definitely helped. I ended up coaching three games when Mick was in partying in Bali so it definitely helped my cause,” he said.
"I definitely want to add more depth to the senior and reserves sides. We went to the grand final (this year) and we didn't have any sides from Bay Power from seniors to juniors. We want to be represented on grand final day.
"If we can add 10 to 15 players to our list and that should be good for us moving forward.”
Walton hails from Tallygaroopna, north of Shepparton in Victoria's Goulburn Valley.
He played senior and reserve grade footy and coached reserve grade and under-18s in the region before he moved to Hervey Bay with his young family to manage a local caravan park.
Walton said one of his tasks was to add more 20-year-olds to the lineup to erase a generational gap in the club.
"We had a very young side, probably had eight to nine under-17s in our senior side so probably one of the youngest senior sides in Australia, really,” Walton said. "They just need a lot of encouragement, and probably by adding a bit more depth and put a bit of pressure on them for spots so they don't think they can just turn up for a game.
"One of the problems we had at the club was we had a lot of guys born in the 70s and 80s, then a lot in the 2000s. There were none in the 90s, and that's what we need - those 20-year-old players.”
The Power should maintain a similar list to the side that reached the preliminary final, and Walton said his task was to ensure he kept the players keen to train and play as the season wore on.
"Mick's done a great job over the past few years getting the club where it is,” he said. "The club is really building.”
Gay gladly endorsed the appointment of the new coach.
"Excellent, I think he'll bring a lot of new stuff to the club, a lot of ideas and a much younger influence,” Gay said.
"He's very decisive, he's got his way of doing things, as the season wore on we spoke a bit about how we would go and I think it worked well.”
AFL Wide Bay's 2017 most valuable player and Power captain Josh Wheeler was appointed assistant coach.
The Power are expected to start pre-season in two weeks.