STAWELL - Brad Cassidy is returning to Stawell Westlift Warriors as senior coach for 2014.
Stawell president John Griffiths contacted The Stawell Times-News earlier this week to confirm Cassidy's appointment and to express his pleasure at welcoming the former AFL player back to the club.
While Stawell had been looking for a playing coach, Mr Griffiths said that when he heard Cassidy had shown interest in taking on the role once again, he couldn't ignore it.
"Just someone of his calibre and experience, plus it is becoming increasingly hard to find a playing coach," he said.
"We've seen the problems you have when getting someone into the town.
"Brad's shown that he's keen to get back into it (coaching) again so we got that idea of having him coaching plus one or two playing assistants. I thought he was a really, really good coach in the two years that we had him."
Cassidy, who previously coached Stawell in 2009-10 before stepping down due to family reasons, said he was excited by the new opportunity that has been presented.
"Obviously, it's been three years and I had to step down because Leisa, my wife, was diagnosed with cancer.
"She's been battling that for the past three years, but it's certainly at a stage where they (doctors) can manage her health," Cassidy said.
"Over that three year period, I did think about footy a lot and I always had that burning desire to return as a coach if circumstances present themselves.
"I'm looking forward to that opportunity, to continue coaching again and develop the guys at Stawell."
Returning to the club as senior coach was an easy decision for Cassidy to make.
The new coach was initially sought out to join the Stawell football department involving president John Griffiths, Tony Dark, Jeff Olafsen, Ian Barham, Mark Stainsby, Andrew Dunn, Shaun Allen and Tim Williams.
"Halfway during the year they looked to form this group to review the footy club and they asked me to go on that," Cassidy said.
"When I got home, I really knew I wanted to coach again. Leisa and I had talked about it for a while.
"I certainly had to make sure it was alright by her and once it was, I knew I had the green light."
Cassidy believes there are a lot of positives in the current Stawell side, irrespective of where the Warriors finished on the Wimmera Football League ladder in 2013, which was second last with just three wins.
He pointed to the core group of younger players as a big positive for the club, adding that one of his main priorities over the next fortnight is to meet with the current crop of Stawell players one-on-one to get their thoughts on this year as well as looking towards 2014.
"We'll just sort out what we can do to improve in regards to development and that sort of stuff," Cassidy said.
There is no doubting Cassidy has his work cut out for him over the next month or so, with Stawell desperately needing to recruit players.
"We're looking for an improved performance on field and off field," he said.
"Our short term focus is recruiting, obviously it had been ongoing before I was appointed coach.
"Retention and recruiting will be our main priorities before we begin pre-season in mid-November."
The club is currently in discussions with two players to come onboard as assistant coaches.
"We certainly hope these discussions lead to a really good, positive outcome for the club," Cassidy said.
"I think the footy club can turn around and with the right structures in place, I certainly have no doubt we can get back to that improved performance."