Community Footy coaching moves for 2024 – Central Zone

In a short series of articles, we look at the new and returning coaches in the various zones across the State. In the first of these, we cover Central Zone.

By Peter Argent

Three new coaches feature this season in the high-profile Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association.

Former Port District player Nick Hales takes over the reigns from Jonno Ross at the Freeling Redlegs, while former South Adelaide footballer – fresh off a premiership with the Kingscote Hounds in the Kangaroo Island Football League – Peter Rolfe is the new mentor at the Kapunda Bombers. Rugged no-nonsense defender Nick Madden will be the playing coach at Nurioopta.

Madden has played upwards of 340 senior games across his diverse career.

He started at Port Adelaide in the SANFL back in 2004 and finishing at the Magpies in 2013, making his league debut against Glenelg at Alberton Oval in 2006.

After four years on the Yorke Peninsula playing with the Paskeville Magpies, which included the back-to-back flags of 2014 and 2015, Madden had a season with SMOSH West Lakes in Division 3 of the Adelaide Footy League.

From 2018 to 2020, Madden followed his mate and 2022 premiership coach Kyle Jenner to the Ponderosa.

While Madden confirmed he didn’t have any specific football mentors, he suggested he was lucky enough to have a number of excellent senior coaches including Tim Ginever, Roy Laird, current Glenelg premiership coach Darren Reeves, Darren Mead and Tony “Bangers” Bamford, collecting bits and pieces from each and adding his own spin, without reinventing the wheel.

“I’m going grey that’s for sure,” Nick Madden smiled, talking about his first gig as senior coach at the Nuriootpa Tigers, who have played in the past two BLG Grand Finals.

“Pleasingly I’m not losing my hair, but I certainly see a few of those grey ones.

“I’m looking forward to the time I can get into the routine.

“There is a lot of people within our club with Vintage commitments currently.

“I’ll be backing our local talent at the Tigers again this year.”

After playing in a Grand Final in Darwin for another species of Tiger, key defender Mitch Norton returns from the NT while Madden’s bench coach will be long-time servant at the Tigers, Brett Lydeamore.

Hales was also in the Port Adelaide Magpies system, playing in the 2011 SANFL Under 18s Grand Final triumph, coached by Matt Webber, with Mark Moody and Robbie “Tank” Thompson as his right-hand men.

“Matt, Moods and Tank were important football people in my youth and taught you a lot about the game and life,” Hales reflected.

“Simon Madden at Port District was an important mentor as well and sounding board.

“We will be looking to add to the base that Jonno Ross was building at Freeling and add a harder edge.”

Nuriootpa playing coach Nick Madden in action. Picture – Peter Argent

In the Adelaide Plains competition, Brett Burgess has been handed the role at the Hamley Bridge Bombers.

He has taken over from former Barossa District dual premiership coach Todd Miles, who is now Darren Reeves’ assistant at reigning SANFL premier, Glenelg.

Burgess was a member of the Angaston Panthers 2003 A grade premiership side in his youth he will also have a dual role as the Angaston A-grade coach in 2024, in the BLG Women’s competition.

“It will be a busy winter, and I’ll be stretched a little, but I’m excited about both challenges,” Burgess told the

“I have had a couple of important mentors along the way.

“The first was my initial A grade coach at Angaston (Malcolm) ‘Mullet’ McGrath.

“He was really old school, but you knew exactly where you stood.

“Pleasingly over two decades later he was at my wedding last year.

“Naturally my older brother Ben, who is eight years my senior, has also been an important person to lean on.”

Ben Burgess, who played a handful of league games for Central District before an ACL injury, also coached Hamley Bridge between 2006 and 2008.

“He enjoyed just four wins in his three years at the Bombers,” Brett confirmed.

“It would be nice to beat his record after the first couple of months of the season.”

Across at the Balaklava Peckers, Hayden Battle returns to the role as their senior coach this year.

In the neighboring Northern Eastern competition, journeyman Rian Nelson is the new man in charge of the Blyth Snowtown Cats.

Originally from the Barossa District Bulldogs, Nelson has coached in the Hills and Yorke Peninsula Football Leagues previously.

Nick Schoenberg, the father of Adelaide Crows midfielder Harry, is the man in charge at the Mintaro-Manoora Eagles, while former Mail Medalist and classy midfielder Marcus Hall will coach his foundation club the Burra-Booborowie-Hallett (BBH) Rams.

Former Mallala dual sporting talent, who played for the RSMU Hawks last year, Jake Birchmore will take on the role as their mentor for the 2024 campaign.

A former premiership coach at Curramulka-Minlaton-Stansbury (CMS) Crows who took them to flags in 2012-13, Jamie Kemp, will return as the senior coach of the club.

Sam Pfeiffer, a state country footballer originally from the Murray Bridge Ramblers, who moved to Yorkes after marrying local elite netballer Kate Easter, will coach the Ardrossan Kangaroos this season.

A strong rebounding defender, Pfeiffer also was an Adelaide Crows SANFL development player.

Gavin Adams, is the new coach of losing Grand Finalists in 2023, the Moonta Demons, having previously coached the competition favourites.

At the Paskeville Magpies, former Adelaide Football League player with North Haven and SMOSH West Lakes, Cohen Mattner is their new coach.

Mattner played as a goal kicking forward with the Ports Bulldogs in the Spencer Gulf Football League last season.

Scott Brand is set to coach the Southern Flinders Tigers in 2024. Picture – Peter Argent

In the Northern Area’s competition, Scott Brand, an assistant in the Norwood junior program recently, has returned to his rural roots and will coach the Southern Flinders Tigers.

For the 2024 South Australian Country Championships, this year returning to Victor Harbor, highly experienced Liam Whitwell has been already announced as the new Central Zone coach.

A Mail Medalist and premiership player/coach with the Mallala Magpies, who also had plenty of success with the Brinkworth-Spalding-Redhill Tigers in the North Eastern competition, Whitwell is an educator by trade.


Sign up to receive the latest SANFL news straight to your inbox.