SOUTHERN Districts has appointed club legend and Under 18s coach, Matt Cannard to lead its Men’s Premier League side in the 2020/21 Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) season. The premiership player and Nichols Medalist (league best and fairest) takes over from another club stalwart in Shannon Rusca as Crocs’ coach after nine years at the helm.
The announcement was made yesterday with 36-year-old Cannard the standout choice in many people’s eyes after donning the red, white and black for 245 games over 15 years. The midfielder played a key role in the 2006-07 premiership, and took out the Nichols Medal after a sensational 2009-10 season. Such is his durability, Cannard played as recently as last season in the Premier League, stepping up in five games for the Crocs after mostly playing at Division 1 level in the twilight of his playing career.
Cannard has already coached success at junior level, leading the Under 18s side to a 2016-17 title alongside a number of finals appearances. He has also been a key assistant under Rusca over the past decade and told the NT News he was keen to get going.
“Obviously I’m looking forward to the challenge knowing I’ve got some big shoes to fill with Shannon having a lot of success and Mago (Michael McLean) as well,’’ Cannard said. “I’m pretty fortunate Shannon has left the club in a very good position on and off the field and hopefully I can continue the good work he has done. “There won’t be a lot of changes in the club’s methods, I want to keep the people at the club who have brought us a lot of success in the last five or six years.’’
Last season the Crocs made it all the way from fifth on the table to a preliminary final, only to go down to reigning and eventual back-to-back premiers, Nightcliff in the penultimate match. The season is expected to kick off in the first weekend of October, dependent on the state of the COVID-19 global pandemic.