DEPARTING Ovens and Murray league general manager Tom O’Connor says he wouldn’t be doing the competition justice if he stayed in the role.
O’Connor stepped down yesterday after five seasons.
The 34-year-old, who will continue in the position until his contract expires in March, hopes to stay based on the Border with his young family but has not ruled out exploring job opportunities elsewhere.
“From my point of view, my mind is probably looking for a new opportunity and challenge,” O’Connor said yesterday.
“I wouldn’t be doing the role justice by hanging around.
“I wanted to give the O and M the best opportunity to run a professional recruitment process before Christmas and allow a handover period.”
The position will be advertised and a replacement is expected by the end of the year.
League chairman Greg Claney said O’Connor, who was granted two-year contract extensions in April, 2009, and May, 2011, brought unrivalled professionalism and commitment to the O and M.
“Tom leaves the league in a strong position,” Claney said.
“I do not think that everyone in football truly appreciates the enthusiasm and passion Tom has displayed for the league and our football and netball communities.
“He has acted impartially at all times and been honest in all his dealings.
“Personally, I am sad that Tom has made this decision, but he goes with the best wishes of the board.”
South Australian-raised O’Connor joined the O and M from the Australian Sports Commission in March 2008, signing an initial two-year deal as Steve Harrison’s replacement.
He worked as a recreation and sports field officer in South Australia before moving to Canberra.
O’Connor said he was most proud of his involvement in the grand final parade, which this year attracted almost 4000 fans at Yarrawonga.
“We took a punt three years ago with the grand final parade and to see the success of that down Belmore Street in Yarrawonga was very fulfilling,” he said.
“It’s set up to be bigger and better each year. It was a punt when we first did it; it was unknown territory for country footy.
“I think it’s still the only grand final parade conducted in country footy and I hope it continues well into the future.”
O’Connor said one of his few regrets was not seeing the interleague side return to the No. 1 ranking under his watch.
“Some of the interleague losses were hard to take,” O’Connor said.
“A lot relies on your interleague standing and a lot of work goes into it from the league.
“That’s one area that I think I’ve left undone a bit.
“Wherever I am I’ll keep a close eye on how they are going.”