Newly-appointed Port Fairy coach Dustin McCorkell knows what it takes to get a Hampden league program competitive but says the Seagulls will 'do it their own way'.
The former Warrnambool premiership captain, who was also captain-coach in a losing grand final, has taken on the job of helping Port Fairy rebuild its senior football side's fortunes.
McCorkell, who was born in Port Fairy and has lived in the small town for the better part of the past eight years, is excited to make a return to coaching. The father of three, who owns a carpet-cleaning business, has got back involved in the football scene in recent years, in part to his seven-year-old son Billy's love of the game.
While McCorkell's appointment has happened quickly, with Port Fairy announcing just last week it had parted ways with coach Winis Imbi, the 42-year-old is confident in the direction the Seagulls are headed.
"The footy club was great," McCorkell said of discussions last week. "I had a couple of concerns and that was to make sure the footy department was set up. I've already been speaking to a lot of great people around Port Fairy and also outside Port Fairy who want to get involved and a lot of people putting their hands up to make sure the footy club is heading down the right path."
The former midfielder knows it is vital to have the right people around him when coaching on game day.
"I had some great people around me (at Warrnambool)," he said. "So I really wanted to make sure that would happen (at Port Fairy). The footy club are allowing me to bring some people in and there are a lot of people at the club already who are going to be helping."
McCorkell said conversations with current players had already started as he also works to bring in new talent. He said this was purely to bolster numbers in the program and shift reliance off its junior talent.
"The reserves side is just as important as the senior team," he said. "And you always want a few under 18s to come up and compete for senior spots, but probably the last year or two they've been thrown to the wolves a little bit. Everyone can play a role in making sure this club moves forward. I just need to get some quality people to the footy club."
McCorkell's hope is that people see the club as a great place to "train and prepare as elite country footballers" as he aims to find the right balance between life and football.
"Kids like doing their surfing and going off to do their own thing, but when it is time to train and play football they're 100 per cent committed to the football program I'm going to put in place," he said. "Pre-season really starts now for me and the players need to make sure they turn up when the actual pre-season starts in pretty good conditions. Hopefully they'll be competing for some spots."
Port Fairy president Noel Black said McCorkell was top of its football department's list for people to speak to for the role.
"We're incredibly excited," Black said. "He's local, he ticks all the boxes. From a club perspective, we want to see Port Fairy competitive again. We know it's a rebuild and Dusty knows that. He's really looking forward to the challenge and making Port Fairy Football Netball Club stronger within the Hampden league."
Black said McCorkell's extensive playing and coaching experience across several different leagues, including the VFL and Geelong Football League, was a huge tick in his favour.
"We wanted someone with extensive football experience playing and having him as an ex-coach is a massive benefit to the club as well," Black said.
Black said the feedback from both within the club and local community had been positive in the 24 hours since McCorkell's appointment.
"Everyone's really exciting about moving forward," Black said.
Black conceded it had been a tough year on the field for Port Fairy, but everyone at the club was committed to ensuring it remained a pillar in the community for people to get involved in.
"It is vital to our community that Port Fairy remains viable, as well as to the Hampden league," Black said. "We want to get the club competitive and get the whole town following us like they have in previous years."
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