WALLA has opted for a last-minute change of direction with Trent Ball and Thomas Stead taking over as coach and assistant coach of the Hume Football League club.
Ball will enter senior coaching ranks for the first time in a non-playing capacity while Stead will dramatically bolster the Hoppers’ forward-line after being a prolific goal-kicker for Thurgoona in recent seasons.
Stead kicked 103 goals for Thurgoona in 2011 and 77 last year before injury restricted him to 23 this year.
The appointments come as a surprise given former coach Craig Mannagh had been taking Walla for pre-season training as recently as this week.
Ball said yesterday he was excited by the prospect of coaching after working under Marc Almond at Howlong as an assistant several years ago.
“It’s a big job ... all coaching roles are,” Ball said.
“We are coming from a long way back, but we realise that and no one is under any illusions about the task ahead.
“I don’t have any magic tricks to change things instantly.
“We just want guys to come and enjoy their football, enjoy being around the place, have fun and get better as players.”
Ball, who is coach of Cricket Albury-Wodonga’s representative team, played his junior football at Lavington before crossing to the Murray Magpies and playing in a premiership at 17.
Walla finished in 12th position this year with two wins.