A FORMER Port Fairy coach who oversaw the Seagulls’ first steps from cellar dweller to premiership fancy is hoping to retire on a winning note.
Sam Rudolph will run out for the seaside club for the final time on Hampden league grand final day.
Helping the Seagulls snap a 59-year premiership drought would be a fitting end for the key defender, who arrived at the battling Gardens Oval club in 2013.
He spent two years as coach, helping it break a 49-game losing streak and setting a foundation of professionalism for incoming mentor Brett Evans in the process.
Rudolph, 33, said the chance to finish his five-year stint with Port Fairy on the grand final stage was rewarding.
The former SANFL player has battled injuries, most significantly a shoulder complaint which wiped out his 2014 season, during his time in the south-west.
“This is it. Let’s hope the boys can get up and I can go out with a bang,” Rudolph said of the decider against Koroit.
“It’s been a long time coming. The last few years I’ve thought about giving it up.
“I’ve said it a few times and gone back on my word, as most footballers do when they’re coming towards the end of their career.
“Footy is a pretty big component of your life when you’re playing it. You’re training every week and you’re committed to at least 30 weekends throughout the year. I am looking forward to having that time away and seeing what other passions I have in life.”
Rudolph said he was invested in the area.
He lives on a 10-acre hobby farm on the slopes of Tower Hill with wife Bianca and sons, Felix, 6, and Beckett, 3.
“We’ll be around the area and no doubt I’ll be showing my place around Port Fairy footy club for a while yet,” he said.
“My dad was a school principal, so we moved my whole life so I think I was looking somewhere to settle down and put the roots out so to speak. Coming here we had no real expectations of what the future would hold but we just liked it. It’s a great community, easy living and the kids love it.”