By Tara Murray
Jeff Andrews is not one to sit still and let his coaching career stagnate.
Andrews has been willing to take a risk and those risks have panned out well so far.
An assistant coach with Werribee for the past two VFL seasons, Andrews’ hard work on the sidelines has been rewarded – Andrews landed an exciting new role as senior coach of Central District in the SANFL last week.
He left behind friends and family to take up an opportunity that was “too good to pass up”.
“In your life, all of those risks that you take tend to work out,” Andrews said. “You learn and you grow and you meet new people.
“Although I’ve had a lot of detours along the way, this is something that I’ve been working towards for a long time.”
Andrews has not simply rolled the dice on Central District.
The 50-year-old did his homework on the Bulldogs, exploring how the club fitted into its local community, the historical aspects and the stability of the club.
Central District ticked all the boxes for Andrews. “They’re a really stable, successful, well-run organisation that enjoyed a bit of success and would like to get back up there as quickly as possible,” Andrews said.
“The best clubs I’ve been at are the ones that feel like a big country club and that’s what this place feels like.”
Central District is the most successful club in the SANFL since the turn of the century.
The Bulldogs have won nine premierships since 2000.
All of those flags came in the first decade, so they are now nine seasons removed from being the top dogs in the competition.
Andrews understands the urgency for the Bulldogs to get back to the top.
With the Bulldogs finishing eighth with a 5-13 record last season, Andrews will need to begin a rebuilding process at the club, which he has done before and is ready to do for his new club.
“I’m a people person and I love to build relationships,” Andrews said. “I’ll get in and find out what the players want to get out of their careers and then help them.
“We’ll build those strong relationships and just keep working on what they’re good at because quite often players can focus on the stuff that they’re not good at.
“They’re all at that level because they’re pretty good players, so there will be a real development focus and that’s as players and people.”
Andrews has served as an assistant coach with Preston in the VFL and Calder Cannons in the NAB League.
Taking the next step to senior coaching was a natural progression. Coaching his own team is not foreign to Andrews, who took Macedon to its drought-breaking premiership in the Riddell District Football League.
“It was a four year build at Macedon,” Andrews said.
“First year we might’ve won four or six games, but we just got better every year. “It was the first premiership in 41 years, so in the town you couldn’t wipe the smiles off people’s faces.
“It had been a really long drought and the club had gone through a recession where they weren’t in business for a couple of years, so they’ve done it really tough.
“It was a long journey, but it was really fulfilling.” The final step in Andrews’ journey to a state league coaching gig came as an assistant coach with Werribee in the VFL.
Working under John Lamont in his first season and Mark Williams last season, Andrews received valuable insights that will stick with him throughout his coaching career. “
They spent time and energy developing me and the other coaches to be as good as we could be,” he said. “I couldn’t have had two better mentors and with different approaches.”
While Andrews will be working hard to help Central District climb back up the SANFL ladder, he will relish the chance to take in his new surroundings when he gets a bit of down time.