IS Chris Fagan 2.0 the best fit to steer North Melbourne through its period of turbulence?

Brisbane head of football David Noble and Geelong counterpart Simon Lloyd have followed a similar career path to the Lions coach – a man who has held nearly every role at AFL level. 

And now Fagan's success in turning around Brisbane's fortunes has forced a re-think from clubs on the need for experience over youthful exuberance in the top job. 

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The Roos will finalise their coaching selection panel in coming days to appoint Rhyce Shaw's replacement after Shaw and the club formally parted ways last week. 

Rhyce Shaw addresses his troops during a game this season. Picture: AFL Photos

The committee is expected to include former Sydney and Melbourne coach Paul Roos, club directors, executives and an external leadership consultant. 

The need for experience will be high on the club's priority list. 

Lloyd and Noble have been in the AFL system for over 23 years, but after both holding various coaching roles earlier in their careers, have turned to focus on administration in recent times. 

However, the same could be said for Fagan before he was snapped up by the Lions at the end of 2016 from his position of General Manager of Football at Hawthorn. 

Geelong football manager Simon Lloyd on the phone at Marvel Stadium during the 2019 Trade Period in October. Picture: AFL Photos

Before that he'd been head of coaching and development at the Hawks, head of football at Melbourne, an AFL assistant, Demons reserves coach and successful coach at various level in his native Tasmania. 

"Chris is the perfect fit for the Brisbane Lions as we strive to regain relevance - his knowledge, experience, mentoring skills and ability to communicate are all elite," chief executive Greg Swann said at the time. 

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The same traits will be required for North Melbourne as it works to regain its place on the football map in 2021 after a horror three-win 2020 campaign. 

Added with the ability to manage off-field issues, restore confidence, counsel, budget and negotiate, the need for a football tactician was well down the Lions' list of priorities when appointing Fagan. 


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Noble was on the five-person selection committee that secured the Tasmanian and will have seen first-hand what he's done in the three seasons since. 

He was also part of committees to appoint the late Phil Walsh as coach of Adelaide and after that Don Pyke – two men with various levels of experience at AFL clubs before their jump to senior coaching positions. 

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In his own right, Noble has been NSW/ACT talent pathway coach, assistant coach at Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, senior coach at Glenelg in the SANFL, Crows list manager and head of football. 

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The same can be said for Lloyd, who is a qualified psychologist. Since 1998 he has held the titles of development coach, development manager, assistant coach, psychologist, high performance manager and director of coaching across Hawthorn, Collingwood, Fremantle and Geelong. 

He also completed the AFL's Level Four coaching program alongside Simon Goodwin, Stuart Dew and Matthew Nicks in 2017. 

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Noble admitted it was "unlikely" he'd throw his hat in the ring for the Roos' job when quizzed on Trade Radio this week. Instead, he is focusing on the administration path, one that is likely to see him replace Greg Swann as Lions CEO when his time is done. 

Lloyd, too, has committed to administration since leaving his post as director of coaching in 2018 to replace Steve Hocking as the Cats' head of football.  

But does the coaching bug ever leave a former coach? 

It never did for Fagan.


Simon Lloyd

The Geelong head of football sits alongside Chris Scott in the coaches' box on game day and has a wealth of experience under his belt. Was the Cats' director of coaching as recently as 2017 – the same year he completed the AFL's Level Four Coaching program. Before that, the qualified psychologist held various roles in coaching and administration at Hawthorn, Collingwood and Fremantle. 

David Noble

The Lions' football boss was part of the selection panel that appointed Chris Fagan at Brisbane ahead of 2017. And before that he sat on committees that secured Don Pyke and the late Phil Walsh at the Crows. Has seen first-hand the impact of experience in leading clubs through turmoil… is it his time to do the same? 

Ross Lyon

Has been a star in his move into the media after 13 straight seasons as coach at St Kilda and Fremantle but is still regarded as a career coach. Lyon ultimately fell out of favour at the Dockers at the end of 2019, but his experience and coaching nous can't be questioned. Would also help add relevance to a football club craving some attention as it rebuilds. 

Michael Voss

The impact of Brett Ratten at St Kilda in 2020 will only push the case for sacked senior coaches getting another opportunity. And Voss sits at the front of that queue. The Brisbane champion coached his former club from 2009-2013 and will be better for the experience after six seasons at Port Adelaide since. After missing out on the Carlton job to David Teague last year, Voss was expected to seek a move into the media at the end of 2020. But he's sticking at Port Adelaide, unless another club comes calling.  

Scott Burns 

Has crossed to Adelaide as senior assistant for 2021 after three years under Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn. But that wouldn't stand in the way of the Roos. Remember when Luke Beveridge committed to St Kilda in a coaching role for 2015 before the Western Bulldogs came knocking and nabbed him before he even arrived at the Saints? Burns has come close to winning jobs at Gold Coast and West Coast and has now had 12 seasons in the caper at Collingwood, the Eagles and Hawks. 

John Barker 

Incredibly close to the Carlton coaching role Brendon Bolton won at the end of 2015, Barker remains at the Blues where he has held a variety of roles since 2011. Has also worked under Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn and Ross Lyon at St Kilda dating back to his retirement in 2006. After 14 seasons in coaching he ticks the experience requirement. 

Steven King 

Elevated to the Western Bulldogs' senior assistant ahead of 2019 and has continued to pick up responsibilities under Luke Beveridge. This summer King ran the entire Bulldogs' training program before picking up more hands-on coaching duties when several assistant coaches were stood down due to COVID-19. Has been at the Dogs for nine seasons after a stint at St Kilda as ruck and midfield coach. 

Adam Kingsley

Now has two flags in two seasons as midfield coach at Richmond after moving from St Kilda at the end of 2018. Another Level Four graduate, Kingsley has had 14 seasons in a variety of coaching positions following his retirement from Port Adelaide. The 2004 premiership player spent three years at the Power before eight at the Saints. 

Adem Yze

Has returned to Melbourne for 2021, a club where he won the hearts of fans across 271 games. But he made his name as a coach under Alastair Clarkson at the Hawks. Since heading to Waverley Park ahead of 2012, Yze has been an assistant coach, strategy and opposition analyst and worked across different areas in development.  

Robert Harvey

After 12 seasons in the system as an assistant coach, is the time right for Harvey to make the jump into the top job? After his retirement in 2008, Harvey spent two years at Carlton before moving to St Kilda for 2011. For a brief period at the end of that season he was the club's interim senior coach, only to cross to Collingwood where he's been ever since. Has split his time between coaching the backline and midfield at the Pies.  

Sam Mitchell 

Still seen as the heir apparent to Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn, but could Mitchell be the bolter from the next wave of young coaches? Coached West Coast's midfield in the 2018 premiership season before re-joining the Hawks where he has excelled.