MATT Pendergast has stepped down as Ovens and Murray interleague coach.
Pendergast has cited increased club and family commitments for his decision to stand aside following a three-year term in charge of the league’s senior representative side.
Pendergast, who has represented the league for more than a decade, took over the role from Robbie Jackson in 2011.
In his first year at the helm, the O and M fell agonisingly short in regaining a place in the top two of Country Victoria, going down to Mornington Peninsula Nepean by two points at Frankston.
Pendergast returned the following year to lead his side to an emphatic 48-point win over the Hampden League at Visy Park before suffering a 45-point loss to Peninsula at the same venue this year.
Pendergast has forged an illustrious career at representative level, claiming numerous Victorian Country titles. He has represented both New South Wales and Victoria Country and also received All-Australian honours.
The 30-year-old said he was keen to continue his interleague playing career next year and beyond.
O and M general manager Aaron McGlynn said the league will now begin the search for a replacement as preparations for next year’s clash against the Hampden league get underway.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Penda," McGlynn said.
"Not only is he an absolute professional on field, his dedication and passion for the league is unrivalled.
"He epitomises what the Ovens & Murray is all about.
"We certainly have big shoes to fill when it comes to finding a replacement for Matt”.