Premiership coach Dean Stone has beaten a crack field to regain Wangaratta's top job.
Although speculation had been strong Stone was favourite to take over from Luke Morgan a month ago, he was only appointed for the one-year deal on Sunday.
The club wanted to sign Stone to a longer contract, but he opted for only 2021 at this stage.
Stone led the Pies for two seasons, claiming an upset grand final win over Albury in 2017 before the Tigers snared an eight-point thriller the following year.
He stood down after that loss, citing work and family commitments, admitting he was tired and needed a break.
"Things have changed a bit in the last two years from a family perspective, my boys are pretty self-sufficient and they're at uni in Melbourne and working in Wodonga, so I have a bit more time on my hands," he said.
Wangaratta was blessed to have a quality field and while the club was naturally keen to keep the candidates a secret, former Sturt grand final coach Luke Norman had publicly declared his interest.
"The selection panel was in a unique situation, we had four really good candidates and the panel would have been happy for any of those to take over as coach," president Tony Goodison said.
"Dean's had the most recent coaching success and, at the same time, he's very familiar with our current list."
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Stone immediately bolted into the top echelon of O and M coaches, particularly with his ability to improve players.
"Dean has this unique capability to educate and motivate the players and treat them as individuals and help them perform at their best and that's what we want out of a coach," Goodison said.
Dean has this unique capability to educate ... and help them perform at their best.Tony Goodison