By Peter Argent
It is easy to understand why Steve Lubcke is a successful coach.
Last Sunday, as the off-field leader of the Central Zone, he collected the Bill Murdoch Medal as the SA Country Championships title-winning coach.
Lubcke is understated, appreciating that any coach requires the cattle to achieve success and knows that people management is a key to getting the desired result.
Following his team’s victory at the weekend, Lubcke was keen to praise all the people around him.
“The side gelled quickly and had a strong chemistry,”Lubcke explained
“There were no egos in this group and everyone played their roles. We had a strong spread on goal kickers as well.
“I cannot commend our backline highly enough over the weekend.
“The eight players selected in the team of the champs was a good indication of how the group played.
“There were a couple of others in our defence like ‘Killa’ (Aaron Killian) and Benny Edwards who were very unlucky.
“It felt like I was coaching a club side – with plenty of on-field communication and leadership. Also the support staff played an important role in our victory.”
Lubcke returned to the cut and thrust of the Country Championships at Murray Bridge in 2017 as coach of the Central Zone side after a successful undefeated tenure as the state country mentor.
He had already experienced a state zone championship in his role as coach of the Eastern team in 2011 at Port Pirie.
It is also fair to say it has been an extensive career in our national football code, firstly as a player and then as a coach, dating back to the 1970s when Lubcke began playing the game at the Walkerville Cats.
His time as a player included SANFL State League football as a rover for Glenelg.
While he only played a handful of league games, any football historian will understand why he could not force a regular berth at the Bays, as he was fighting against Magarey Medallist Kym Hodgeman and Craig Marriott for senior roving spots.
Lubcke’s working vocation as a teacher took him over to Kangaroo Island.
Playing and dipping his toes into coaching genre for Kingscote in that competition, he was twice runner-up in Mail Medal counts in 1980 and 1981, along with winning five successive club best and fairest awards.
He would also return to the Cats, when the now defunct South Australia Football Association (SAFA) was at the height of its powers in the 1980s.
Arriving in the Barossa Valley in 1992, he coaching career started in earnest in 1995 with the Tanunda B grade.
He enjoyed a successful five-year tenure, with the team playing in four grand finals in Lubcke’s first four seasons at the helm, a highlight being 1997 when Tanunda secured the reserves premiership title – defeating Nuriootpa by seven points.
At A grade level, he had a frustrating tenure with Barossa District commencing in 2000. While it wasn’t a period of ultimate successful for the Bulldogs, Lubcke described this job as a tremendous learning experience with a great club.
He took over as A grade coach at Tanunda in 2006 and claimed his first premiership at this level in the pressure-packed environment of its 2008 centenary season.
He would be the club’s off field leader for the following two flags in 2009 and 2010.
“I felt that we became competitive in my time at Barossa District,” he said.
“There was huge pressure and expectation in 2008 at the Tanunda Magpies – which brought the best out of the playing group – and myself as senior coach.
“It is relief at the end when you delivered what you were expected to do.
“Football is a passion and by the time I passed the role on to ‘Brits’ (Ben Britton), I felt the club was in a very healthy position.”
Moving across to the neighbouring Adelaide Plains competition, Lubcke took over the Mallala Magpies coaching job.
After being finalists in the first year, Lubcke led the Adelaide Plains Magpies to a title in 2013 and followed with grand final’s appearances over next two seasons and a second title in 2016.
For the past couple of seasons, Lubcke has been senior coach for the RSMU Hawks in the North Eastern competition.
What a lot of the football public don’t realise is Lubcke’s dedication to developing junior football through the South Australia Primary Schools Amateur Sports Association (SAPSASA).
Along with being teacher at Tanunda Primary School, he has coached the Barossa and Light SAPSASA team for nearly two decades.
“I first coached a SAPSASA team when I was teaching at Parafield Gardens and did that role for three years,” Lubcke said.
“Crow Matt Bode was one of my players in those first years; I remember him being a special player.
“I love the involvement with the kids, it’s completely different to coaching senior football.
“Coaching at different levels is a great challenge, and helps me continue to develop my knowledge and skills.”
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!