North Albury is targeting a coach after incumbent Chris Schmidt informed the club on Wednesday morning he will return to Adelaide for employment.
Schmidt had told the Hoppers last month he was awaiting news of a possible job back in his home state.
The league’s highest-profile recruit last summer, the former Adelaide and Brisbane midfielder was travelling from Sydney in his co-coaching role with Clint Gilson.
Gilson announced early last month he too would step down, also with work commitments.
“We didn’t really get to see him in full flight in his coaching,” North operations manager Brenden Maclean said of the West Adelaide premiership captain.
“We were pretty excited about what he was going to bring in his second year because he was comfortable, he knew the place, he knew the players.
“When we had that meeting with him (where he indicated he was willing to stay on, pending employment) some of the ideas he came up with and how we wanted to drive it for next year was exciting.
“I think the players were looking forward to it as well and I know a lot of the players said they had learnt a lot off him.”
Schmidt’s signing last November signalled the Hoppers’ intention to re-emerge as a force after two years in the wilderness.
The club had won only eight games and also hadn’t won a final since 2010.
The Hoppers improved on last year’s three wins by snaring seven this year and was still in finals contention until late July.
“We were anticipating something like this might have happened (losing Chris), so we have been communicating with some people and putting out the feelers,” Maclean said.
“We’d like to (name a replacement) the sooner the better, you want to do it as quickly as you can, but we can’t rush it, we’ve got to make sure it’s the right fit.”
North remains the only club without a coach, although Wangaratta Rovers are exploring the option of appointing a playing co-coach to partner Ross Hill.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here