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Bendigo FNLRichard Jones | The Kyneton Tigers have pulled off one of the greatest off-season recruiting coups in country footy with the appointment of ex-Geelong star Paul Chapman as senior coach.

Chapman played in Geelong’s three mid-Noughties AFL premiership teams of 2007-09-11 and was the Norm Smith medallist for best afield in the 2009 triumph over St. Kilda.A dual All-Australian in 2009-2010, Chappy was the Cats’ fairest and best in 2006 and has coaching experience under his belt with a stint at Greenvale in the Essendon District league from 2017 until early 2020.

Now a resident at Woodend in the Macedon Ranges shire, Chappy won’t have so far to travel in 2021 to fulfil his coaching duties with the Kyneton Showgrounds a lot closer to home. After his Skilled Stadium days had been completed, Chappy, 38, played two seasons –- in 2014-15, 29 games --- at Windy Hill with Essendon. Those games with the Bombers brought Chapman’s overall AFL total to 280.

Another former AFL player in Nathan Thompson (a Kyneton based ex-Hawthorn and North Melbourne forward) was instrumental in recruiting Chappy. Thompson had been appointed Tigers’ coach in late 2019, but with work commitments and the 2020 season’s cancellation he wasn’t able to commit any further towards Kyneton’s future within the BFNL. He said even with the departure of occasional playing coach Luke Beattie Kyneton’s playing list remained “in a solid position.”

It seems likely that the acquisition of Chapman will attract more and more Macedon Ranges and central Victorian footy hopefuls to the Tigers’ lair. That’s the stance Thompson has adopted. “The list is in a solid position so we have a solid platform to start planning with Chappy to try and improve,” he said.

The Tigers finished fourth after reaching the finals with a third-placed double chance in 2018, but bowed out in straight sets following semi-final losses to Sandhurst and Eaglehawk. Last year was a re-building season after the late-August—early September disclosure in 2018 that the Tigers were $200,000 in debt. There was a player exodus which followed over the summer of 2018-early 2019.

Kyneton lost not only key position players but quite a few midfielders to district clubs such as Mount Pleasant and Colbinabbin after they’d taken to the field for the Tigers in 2018’s final home-and-away round for zero pay. They accounted for sixth-placed Golden Square 15.14 to 7.18, but that was to be Kyneton’s last success two seasons back with a straight sets finals exit.