By David Nagel
Narre Warren and its coach of the past two years Heath Black have parted ways just four days after sharing the pain of grand final defeat together against Berwick on Saturday.
The former Fremantle and St Kilda star met with the club’s executive on Wednesday night, where he requested a two-year extension to his contract.
But Narre Warren – who has a serious financial commitment to a new social facility being built at Fox Road – refused to meet Black’s requests, leaving him on the outer and considering his options for 2018 and beyond.
“I’m gutted to tell you the truth,” Black explained.
“I have a great relationship with the club, but we put friendships aside and discussed the hard facts in regards to the business relationship. I was hoping there would be a way around it, and hoping to coach the club for the next two years, but we were poles apart to be honest.”
Black, regarded as one of the hardest working coaches in community football, said his was proud of his two years at the club.
“I couldn’t have done anymore in regards to the amount of work I have put in and I can walk away with my head held high,” he said.
“The club nominated me for coach of the year this season, which I won, and gave me a strong grading in a recent review, so the coaching side of things was obviously not an issue. I just think there’s a lot of uncertainty about the financial impact of the new social rooms and that was the biggest issue.”
Black said he will quickly jump back on the bike and start pedalling to a new home.
“I view myself as a career coach and I will be seeking a two-year deal at another community club next year,” he announced.
“I am already volunteering my services, in a small part-time role, to the Easter Ranges under 16s next year but definitely have aspiration to take my coaching further. I really enjoyed my time at Narre Warren, a tough place to coach with such a rich expectation on success.
“I want to thank the majority of players for backing me to the hilt and I think we got the very best out of the group.”
Magpies’ president Stuart Stephenson – the man who nominated Black for the coach of the year award – said the decision to not meet Black’s demands was a difficult one.
“As a club we were very happy with Heath’s professionalism and the way he presented the club to the external world,” Stephenson said.
“But the club has reached a fork in the road in regards to the social club facilities we have pending, which will be crucial to the future sustainability of the club. There are funds we will have to designate to those facilities so we made an offer to Heath that wouldn’t compromise the club’s position going forward.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t agree to terms, but it would have been irresponsible of us to make an offer we couldn’t fulfil. Coaching is part of Heath’s occupation and we wish him well in taking his coaching career to a higher level.”
The Magpies will begin advertising for a new coach in the coming days.