ESSENDON has lured former star midfielder Brent Stanton back to the club as VFL coach after four seasons working his way through the ranks at Carlton.
Stanton, 35, played 255 games for the Bombers across 13 seasons before retiring in 2017 and joining the Blues as a development coach, where he rose to be an assistant coach in charge of midfield and ball transition under David Teague.
He finished in the top five of the club’s Crichton Medal best-and-fairest count seven times, including being runner-up once.
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Stanton replaces Leigh Tudor, who was planning to continue in the Bombers’ VFL role for a third season and hoping for an uninterrupted campaign when vfl.com.au spoke to him at the end of the season.
However, Essendon has been able to put itself into a position to return to its previous coaching model, with Tudor and Cameron Roberts as full-time AFL development coaches and Stanton returning to work with the VFL program and especially the secondary listed players.
Bombers general manager of football Josh Mahoney said Stanton’s appointment was important in increasing the resources available to the VFL team.
"Our VFL program plays a very important role in the development of our AFL-listed players, as well as an avenue for VFL-listed players to maximise their potential, (and Stanton is) a much-loved figure here at Essendon after forging a wonderful career as a player" Mahoney told the club's website.
"This additional resource allows experienced coach Leigh Tudor to focus entirely on the development of our AFL players, as well as being an important next step in Brent's coaching career to coach his own team.
"We look forward to him getting familiar with our game style and having a positive impact on our VFL program."
Stanton was thrilled to return to the place he called home for his entire playing career.
"I have so much admiration for this club which I called home for the whole of my playing career," he told essendonfc.com.au
"It's clear to see the talent unearthed at the club this year, and I'm determined to facilitate an environment which helps our younger and developing players grow in our VFL program to ensure they're ready to impact at AFL level."
Tudor said Stanton’s appointment would help the Bombers continue to grow and develop its younger and VFL players.
"With the COVID stuff, I had to take on the VFL and the club is keen on getting back to full development mode again, so it is a great opportunity to get in a part-time VFL coach," he said.
"The VFL coach does the VFL top-up training and that sort of stuff – myself and Cameron Roberts were doing a bit of both of that last year, so this frees up a bit of time for us.
"Every year you always look at how you can get better and it’s a way to help the development of our AFL players, but also it is going to help our VFL players as well."