MATT Irving first coached Terang Mortlake when the Bloods were a Hampden league force.
His second tenure at the helm of the club comes in its greatest hour of need.
Bloods officials yesterday unveiled Irving, affectionately known as “Pud”, as senior coach for season 2014.
He takes over from Shane Threlfall, who had spent two years in the role.
Panmure century goalkicker Chris Bant will join Irving as an assistant coach.
Irving, a three-time premiership player who coached the Bloods from ’07 to ’09, said he was keen to lift the club back up the Hampden league ladder.
He rises to the helm after a season in which the seniors finished seventh, the under 18½s won the flag and the under 16s faced constant player battles.
“It’s as pivotal a time in our footy club as there has ever been, with our juniors and keeping our premiership-winning under 18s together,” he said.
Irving said retaining the first-year senior footballers, who won back-to-back under 18½ flags, would be his first priority.
“What really helped them this year was the comp going from under 18s to under 18½s,” he said.
“A lot of those kids are going to find themselves out of the junior program and moving towards the senior ranks.
“A lot played seniors this year but it’s going to be their sole focus (next year).
“We feel if we can develop those kids and keep them excited about playing for our footy club, the future is going to be bright.”
Irving said the expansion of the Hampden league to 10 clubs “gave me a pep up” and the passion to coach again.
“I thought why not,” he said.
‘‘You don’t get asked by the footy club to coach real often.’’
He was excited about the prospect of Bant, a two-time Panmure premiership player, reigniting his Hampden league career.
Bant last played for Terang Mortlake in 2011, kicking 71 goals from 20 matches.
“We felt he’s going to be the subject of some offers towards the end of the year regarding coaching,” Irving said.
‘‘It was a passion he really wanted to follow.
“The big thing I spoke to Chris about was, nothing against him, if he was going to put himself in that coaching position he might be a bit underdone.
“I put the suggestion to him if I was going to do the head job I could prepare him to coach in 12 months, two years, three years down the track.”
Bant agreed jumping straight into senior coaching “would be too big a step for me”.
“To work with someone like Pud I reckon is pretty good, he’s done it before, he coached at the (Geelong) Falcons,” Bant said yesterday.
“He’ll be good to learn off, he’s as good as anyone I know in footy.
“When I heard he was half a chance to coach, that got me over the line.”
Bant said watching the Bloods’ under 18½s win the flag a fortnight ago also factored in his decision.
“I was pretty keen to get back into the Hampden league,” he said.
“I had two years out and it was getting to the stage I better do something or I’d be out there forever.”