Changes to country footy coaching ranks in 2023

In the third and final part of a series, PETER ARGENT looks at more personnel across the coaching ranks in SA country football, including some former AFL players who have made the move into this pivotal role.


In an audacious move, Jack Kelly has returned to his foundation club, the Kybybolite Tigers, in an effort to lift the proud club to its first A-grade premiership since 1974.

Kelly was a part of the Tigers’ superb junior sides at the start of this century, winning four successive titles alongside players of the quality of Jack Trengove, Bill Lawrie, Lachlan Neale, Andrew Bradley, Alex Forster and Tom Edwards, who all went on to play SANFL league football at a minimum.

Kelly was assistant coach to Rick MacGowan in the SA Country v WA Country state game last year at Adelaide Oval, won by SA, and also played in the SA Country colours himself back in 2017 at Fremantle Oval.

Last year he was the triumphant Bill Murdoch Medallist as South East coach at the SA Country Championships. He will be making the 120km trip from his digs in Robe each week with Bill Lawrie in an effort to rebuild the young and energetic Tigers outfit into a contender this year.

After his success as a junior, Kelly attended Prince Alfred College and won a DJ McKay Medal as the best and fairest for the PAC Old Collegians in the SA Amateurs A3s in 2010.

Kelly was given an apprenticeship by Jade Sheedy, still a mentor for him today. He spent five years at the Double Blues, playing 12 league games in an injury riddled period he endured at Unley.

“I was at Robe from 2015 and played about 10 games last season, although I wasn’t too sure how productive I was,” Kelly laughed when he spoke to

“We enjoyed a flag in 2018, defeating Mt Burr by a couple of points.

“I was always keen to return to my home club and put something back.

“We’ve consistently had 35 lads on the track and only a handful are over 27.

“It’s about getting those strong foundations in place and going from there.”

Jack Kelly playing for Mid South East in the SA Country Championships in 2017. Photo: Peter Argent

In the North Eastern competition, North Clare has appointed Paul Meyer to the job as senior coach.

Meyer, from a family which has a generational connection to NEFL football, was among a strong list of candidates for the sought after role.

New Teams in the River Murray Football League (RMFL) for 2023 are the Coorong Cats, the Southern Mallee Suns and the Mallee Districts Storm.

The inaugural coach in charge of the Cats, who will make their RMFL debut at Tintinara Oval against the Suns on April 15, is Adam Moller who looked after Meningie in its past two seasons.

He coached PAC Old Collegians to a premiership in 2008 and has worked in a casual capacity as a talent scout and opposition analyst for the Fremantle Dockers.

Moller was a member of the Meningie 2001 flag winning side and won a club best and fairest back in 1999.

In charge of the Suns is Nick Hyde.

Mallee Districts, which go into the season with a bye in round one, is a combination of Karoonda and Peake football clubs and have in charge Adam Klun, who played at Woodville West Torrens and Sturt.

Former Melbourne listed footballer Nathan Stark, who played SANFL league football at Glenelg and Sturt, has taken charge of the Tailem Bend Eagles in 2023, coming across from Border Downs – Tintinara.

At the Murray Bridge Imperials, taking over from dual premiership defender at Sturt, Scott McMahon is Ben Todd, who was in the coaches’ box at reserves level at the Bay in ’22 and was involved with the State Under 20s program.

To complete a quartet on new coaches in the Broken Hill Football League Sheldon Hall has taking on the senior role at the Central Broken Hill Magpies.

Hall, who coached the Northern Zone team in the initial SA Country Championships Women’s title in 2018, is also a Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy coach in the Silver City.

“I have been the assistant to Greg Wellington at the Magpies across the past two seasons,” Hall said.

“In 2017 and 2018, I coached the Central Broken Hill women’s teams and we enjoyed a premiership in the second of those two seasons.”


A young Nathan Stark playing for Glenelg country U15s in 2008, now in charge of the Tailem Bend Eagles. Photo: Peter Argent

Meanwhile, up at the Broughton Mundoora Eagles, Tom Wheelan is taking over as playing coach from three-times premiership mentor Nick Hewett, who will play for Moonta in the Yorke Peninsula Football League this season.

Wheelan, who spent the ’22 campaign at the Henley Sharks, is a dual flag winner himself at the Eagles and the 2020 best and fairest.

The Eagles collected the ’22 Northern Areas flags defeating Orroroo at Orroroo Oval on a windy Grand Final day.

“Rian Crane will be my assistant based in Broughton and he will be helped by ‘DP’ (Dylan Hewett),” Wheelan confirmed.

“I need to work on my public speaking, but I have a number of ideas on how the game should be played that I’m looking to implement as a coach.

“I’m the type of coach who would prefer a high scoring shootout to a dour low scoring affair.

“Rather than playing boring football, I’d rather roll the dice and back my group in to get the job done.”

From Bordertown in the Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara competition, Wheelan played senior football at the Roosters in his teens, before spending time in the Glenelg Under 18s program and playing reserves football with the Bays.

Tom Wheelan playing for the BM Eagles in the 2017 grand final. Photo: Peter Argent

Coaching the renamed and rebadged Murrayville Blues, who are moving into the Murray Valley competition (formerly called Riverland Independent) is Dallas Willersdorf, who brings a wealth of playing experience to the role.

Over on Kangaroo Island, local legend David Florance has taken over in the role as senior coach of the Dudley United Football Club.

He won five Mail Medals for Dudley United between 1984 and 1995, along with 10 club best and fairest awards.

Florance had a season with South Adelaide 1989, played with Yankalilla in the great Southern League for a campaign and gained SA Country team selection in 1986 and 1987.


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