NEIL BALME TO JOIN THE CATS AS FOOTBALL
MANAGER; GARRY DAVIDSON EXITS
By Ben Jensen NEIL BALME is the Geelong Football Club's new General Manager of Football Operations. The former Melbourne coach and, until last week, Football Manager at Collingwood, brings a 'wealth of experience'. The 1994 All Australian coach oversaw the resurgence of the Collingwood Football Club after joining Eddie McGuire in 1998.
Balme was recently removed from the same position at cashed-up Collingwood to be replaced by Kangaroos CEO Geoff Walsh in what was has been termed as 'year zero mark two'. While offered another position with the Magpies, Balme said "It was a great opportunity that did arise but it would be fair to say that my circumstances at Collingwood were not as strong as they were last year. They (Geelong) approached me and said we've got this job, come and talk to us about it."
Balme may even move to the town still known in many quarters as 'Sleepy Hollow'. "I haven't really got that far in the logistical side of it, but it wouldn't be a bad place to live."
While stopping short of criticising the club over recent performances, Balme is confident the Cats' fortunes can turn around, quickly. "I've always thought that over the last couple of years, Geelong has had a real chance to be competitive, and they have been. They've had their ups and downs but there's no doubt there's a big upside to the club and I'd love to be part of it."
CEO Brian Cook, after returning from London said: "We had a large number of candidates for this role and in Neil we have a person with outstanding experience at every level of the game".
"He has shown the ability to manage this complex role and has a first hand understanding of the pressures associated with running a football department, managing and working with all levels of a club, coaching and playing. Neil is excited by the challenges we face and we are excited about the role he will play for us", Cook Said.
Former Geelong defender, 199 - gamer Steve Hocking, has been promoted to role conjured as an effective consolation prize, known as the 'Assistant General Manager of Football Operations'. After rejoining the club in 2003 as Chairman of Selectors, Hocking spent last season as the Cats' training services manager.
While Balme will be responsible for managing all elements of the club's football department, Hockings portfolio has been expanded to include day to day management of football administration.
Hocking said: I look forward to working with Neil. He has great experience in the football industry; he is known for building strong relationships with players and has been successful as a senior coach and in football administration.
Cook said: "Steve did a very good job last season and he'll take on additional duties in his new role. Steve will continue to increase his experience as a football administrator and we see him and Neil working well together."
The club advised Balme and Hocking will begin their respective roles on Monday 6 November.
INCUMBENT GARRY DAVIDSON has been pushed out of the club, having held the position since 1998. Davidson, who lost his licence earlier this season for drink driving, was praised by Cook. "We would like to thank Garry for his efforts over the past eight years and wish him well in the future".
Coaching / Football Administration
Collingwood Football Club
Melbourne Football Club
Woodville - West Torrens Football Club
All Australian Coach 1994
Premierships with Norwood 1982, 1984
Richmond Life Member
Norwood Life Member