Friday 19 February 2010

One of the greatest players ever to represent the Southport Football Club has joined arch rivals Morningside to test his coaching prowess.

Clint Watts, a six-time premiership player and member of Southport’s Team of the First 25 Years, has spent summer at Esplen Oval as an assistant to John Blair.

Watts joked that he hid behind the lockers when introduced to the Morningside group, and that they were even more shocked by the news than what he was.

However, the Panthers are a perfect fit for the one-time Joe Grant and Zane Taylor Medallist, who has moved from the Gold Coast to live at Manly West to be closer to his work at Brisbane Airport.

“It’s been very good, I am really enjoying myself,” said Watts, who retired at the end of 2008 after Southport stunned Morningside with a come-from-behind win in the grand final.

One of the genuine ‘good blokes’ of the QAFL, the aeronautical engineer is a prized catch for the Panthers.

As a player, he read the game superbly and insiders at Esplen Oval already say he has all the hallmarks of making an excellent coach.

He will learn from one of the very best in the business, with Panthers coach John Blair having a quarter of a century’s worth of coaching under his belt and having been able to re-invent himself and his coaching methods as the game has constantly evolved.

Watts had been sounded out by Labrador for a similar role, but was completing shift work at the time and a move was not feasible.

However, he moved to more regular hours when wife Melanie returned to work as a flight attendant and Morningside pounced.

Panthers club development manager Jack Barry had a long history with the Watts family dating back to the Coolangatta days where Clint was raised and his father Gary was coach.

“I wasn’t looking for anything, but Jack and Blairy invited me to coffee and I walked away from that feeling pretty happy,” Watts said. “They weren’t looking for a big commitment but it gave me a chance to put my toe in the water.

“Coaching was something that I always thought I would try one day to see if I was any good – dad did it for a long time and he seemed to be pretty good at it.”

Watts is working predominantly with the backline, although he also has responsibility for a number of players coming through the reserves.

He knows a vast number of Panthers players from having played against them, or along side them in Queensland teams, making the introduction easier.

One of the big eye-openers has been the contrast between the financial situations of the two clubs in which he has been involved.

“I’ve seen both ends of the football budget spectrum now,” he admitted.

And he has been impressed with the commitment of the Panthers players.

“They get out there and have a go – they train extremely hard and don’t leave much on the track,” he said.

While it will be strange to see Watts wearing a black and white shirt with some red in it, he pointed it that it was not the same as switching clubs as a player, and he still retains plenty of respect in the Sharks camp.

“Robert Harvey played 300 games for St Kilda and joined Carlton the next week as an assistant coach, and you don’t see St Kilda saying that he’s not welcome back,” Watts said.

He hinted the coaching bug has bitten already.

“The more I go, the more I am enjoying it,” he said.


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