MERRIVALE has enticed club legend Jason Porter to nurture its next generation of Tigers.
The Warrnambool and District Football Netball League club yesterday announced the highly credentialled Porter as non-playing coach for 2013.
Porter, who started a decorated career with the Tigers as a junior, is returning for his second stint as senior coach, having led the club to the 2006 flag.
The 37-year-old, whose two sons Jalen and Tate play juniors with the Tigers, was chairman of selectors for Todd McLean, who took over the top job after the death of non-playing coach Jack Kelson during the 2012 season.
Porter revealed he had enjoyed helping McLean out but at no stage did he get an urge to become coach.
He said it was only during a chance meeting at a service station with a club official that the prospect of him coaching came up after McLean told the club he did not want to continue in the role.
“I hadn’t given it any thought,” Porter said.
He met the Tigers late last week and agreed to take the job on the weekend.
Porter, a winner of both the Hampden and Warrnambool and District league best and fairest awards and multiple premiership player, is a revered figure at Merrivale.
He regards Merrivale as his footy home and after retiring as a player always found himself watching the Tigers and catching up with supporters while standing in front of the club rooms.
“I was just happy to help out Todd who was doing a fantastic job and I was just going to go back to watching and watching the boys play,” he said.
Porter said McLean had done a tremendous job and his first priority was to retain the club’s list.
“After watching last year I’ve got a few ideas I would like to do but it will depend on who stays.”
Porter said youth would play a big role in his approach.
“I’m not afraid to play the kids,” he said.
“They had a great bunch of kids last season. It’s all good to be successful but for the club it’s good to have good kids coming through.
“I will be pretty big on having good kids coming through and no idiots influencing them the wrong way around the place.”
Porter kept a lid on expectations for Merrivale, a finalist in the past two seasons.
“Hopefully I think we will have a pretty similar team to this season. If we can improve, good, but we are not going to go backwards.”
Porter said the Tigers would be active recruiting, chasing a key defender and midfielder.
President Paul Fish said the Tigers had some exciting teenagers rising through the ranks and Porter was the right man for the job.
“We are stoked to have Jason,” he said.
“His football resume speaks for itself in the Hampden and Warrnambool and District leagues. We think he will be a great person to lead us into the future.
“We had Seamus Blake, Jack Gleeson, Manny Sandow, Vinnie Fogarty and Jordan Brown from the under 17s play seniors this season and we think Jason will be good to bring those kids along and will be good for the club.”
Fish said McLean had agreed to stay on as a player with the Tigers. He was unable to be contacted for comment.