THE GRIFFITH Black and Whites have gone back to the future to find a new first-grade coach, with former premiership player Craig Hannon taking the reins this season.
Hannon, whose father Reg played for the club back in the 1950s, will be charged with the heady task of bringing the glory days back to the six-time Group 20 champions.
The Panthers struggled last year, finishing second-last in the competition and winning just three games in total.
“The club’s been down for a few years so hopefully we can turn things around for a little bit and at least get up there and be competitive,” Hannon said.
“It has hurt to watch. It’s a long road ahead and a big challenge. Hopefully I’m up for it and we can do something about it.”
Hannon didn’t have to look far to find his first two recruits, with sons Will and Jesse following the former Yenda under 18s coach to the Black and Whites.
Will, 20, is a utility back who played first-grade for Blueheelers in 2011, while second-rower Jesse, 16, will turn out for the club’s under 18s this year.
“It is a proud thing for us, that we’ve all played for the same club,” Hannon said.
“My old man got a premiership there, I got one there and hopefully we can get one for the boys down the track somewhere – maybe this year.”
Hannon said he was keen to ensure the Black and Whites maintained a local flavour at a time when many Group 20 clubs are looking overseas and interstate for players.
“We’ve got a few new blokes coming down and a couple of locals already signed up. We’re looking at trying to stick with the local boys and then mixing in a couple of guys from out of town in then,” he said.
“A lot of the other clubs have bought pretty well and brought in a lot of blokes, so it’s going to be a tough year and a strong competition.”
President Steve Parr said after shopping around for a first-grade coach, the Black and Whites were happy to hand the job to Hannon, one of the very first applicants.
“I’ve known Craig for a while. We played in the 1990 premiership side together,” Parr said.
“He’s done some rep coaching, he knows a lot of the juniors because of his sons and in that way he was an attractive option for us.
“His knowledge of the game is fairly good and coming from the old school, that’s what we need at the moment.”