Magpie revival put on hold

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Dave Lewis accepts Coach of the Year award from WAFC South West coaching and talent manager Jamie Douse.
Camera IconDave Lewis accepts Coach of the Year award from WAFC South West coaching and talent manager Jamie Douse.

It hasn’t been an easy journey to the top for Busselton coach Dave Lewis.

The esteemed mentor has lost a colts grand final and last year’s preliminary final for his beloved Magpies but believes league success is just around the corner.

The South West Football League was due to commence round one games tomorrow with Busselton scheduled to play Collie on Sunday at Collie Recreation ground, however, fixtures have been cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The match was destined to be a homecoming for the man affectionately known as “Lewy”.

The former Collie captain and life member lost four grand finals as a player but was on the winning team as assistant coach, under former WAFL player Kevin Sparkes, in back-to-back premiership sides for the Eagles in 2004 and ’05.

“Kevin had a great ability to bring the guys together, he introduced some things from the WAFL which were ahead of the times, he was very firm but very inclusive,” Lewis said.

“I grew up in the old school era of the ‘my way or the highway’ sort of approach but now you have to be much more inclusive and treat each other with more respect and use a more consultative approach.”

Despite the heartbreak of losing the 2018 colts grand final to Bunbury, Lewis said the young core group of Busselton’s league team had built resilience from the loss and were ready for a breakout 2020.

“I think the immediate goal was to make finals — we haven’t played finals since 2015 so that was the first step but definitely the long-term goal is to compete for a grand final,” he said.

Lewis embodies this resilience after several near misses in his playing career which spanned 252 games for Collie and 49 for Karratha.

His no-nonsense coaching was enhanced by former AFL players Allan Daniels and Ian MacNish who nurtured his attacking brand while Peter Betti and Robbie Solin instilled in him a belief in hard two-way running and defensive strategies from the WAFL.

That tough brand of footy was set to be the defining characteristic of the Magpies 2020 season.

“I was looking at the teams this year and it was going to be one of the closest seasons ever with each team recruiting well and looking to improve,” Lewis said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails