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‘No regrets’ as Kilmore senior football coach Phillips bows out

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By Colin MacGillivray

FORMER Kilmore senior football coach Nathan Phillips says he has ‘no regrets’ as he steps down after six years at the helm of the Blues.

Kilmore Football Netball Club announced earlier this month that under 19s coach Paul Derrick would replace Phillips as senior coach next season, with Craig Micallef to continue as a senior assistant.

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Phillips said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time leading the Blues but wanted to concentrate more on his family.

“My kids are at an age now where they’re starting to play a lot of sport. They play three games of netball on a Saturday, and things are a bit hard logistically to be able to get them to where they need to be,” he said.

“I’ve spent six years putting my family and my work second to footy, and I felt it was a good time to focus a bit more on supporting my kids with their sport and what they choose to do.”

While Kilmore only announced its coaching change on August 18, Phillips said the succession was a long time coming.

He said the Blues targeted the experienced Derrick, who has senior coaching experience at Essendon District club Roxburgh Park and fellow Northern Football Netball League, NFNL, division three team Mernda, as a potential replacement three years ago.

Phillips said the fact Derrick’s sons Ethan and Bailey played at Kilmore made it a natural fit.

“At the time when we got him across to coach the under 19s, we knew his boys were coming up from the juniors to the seniors,” he said.

“We thought it was an opportunity to get him to the club, because obviously he’s got a lot of coaching experience at senior level.

“I was only going to do it for five or six years anyway when I initially took over, so [he didn’t know] at the time … but we were hoping he would be keen to take over when I was done.

“It’s turned out that way, which is good. He’s had three years at the club now and all the players know him and love him.”

Phillips took over at the Blues in 2016 – their first season in the NFNL, during which they won only two games.

The Blues improved steadily under his leadership, playing finals for the first time in nearly two decades in 2019.

Phillips said he rued seasons lost to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 – two seasons in which he expected Kilmore to compete for a premiership.

“Our list was probably primed for what we thought would be our biggest opportunities in 2020 and 2021 to win [a flag],” he said.

“A few of the guys are getting a bit older now and getting to that point where they’re starting to retire, so it’s probably a good time for ‘Desi’ to come in as a new voice and rejuvenate the list a little bit and change things up.”

While a finals win eluded Phillips, he said he had plenty of good memories and ne regrets from his tenure.

“Beating St Mary’s by one point at home [in 2017] was a good one, and Panton Hill at home when we had 12 blokes out and played a lot of reserves and young kids. They were two good wins,” he said.

“Making finals was a big one for the first time in 20-odd years at the club.

“But the mateships that I’ve forged over the years with guys have been the main highlight.

“I would have loved to have won a final, but that’s not something you can change. I can’t say I didn’t give it everything from a coaching perspective.”

Phillips said he would remain connected to Kilmore ‘behind the scenes.

“I’ll help ‘Desi’ where he needs it. I’ll be helping with recruiting and sorting contacts, but nothing on game day,” he said.

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