Diggers’ Michael Stayte receives the 2011 Football Bundaberg Premier League Player of the Year trophy from life member Noel Stitt.
Diggers’ Michael Stayte receives the 2011 Football Bundaberg Premier League Player of the Year trophy from life member Noel Stitt. Scottie Simmonds

Stayte takes Devils reins

YOUNG new Diggers Premier League coach Michael Stayte admits it will be a hard act to follow after his predecessor Nathan Darlington guided them to three league championships in the past three years.

The 21-year-old pocket dynamo sharp shooting speed machine, who took out the Football Bundaberg Premier League Player of the Year and Golden Boot awards in 2011, takes the reins after Darlington stepped down after guiding the Devils to great success during the last four seasons.

Two years ago, they completed the league championship-grand final double undefeated, but last year, apart from taking out the championship, they also snared the NewsMail Charity Cup but were beaten by Moore Park 3-0 in the grand final.

Stayte, who will also continue to play, is "very excited" about his appointment.

"Other than coaching futsal teams and help Sharpy (club under-17 coach Michael Sharp) on weekends, I haven't done much coaching at all, but I have played under some good coaches and I'm looking forward to it," Stayte said.

Club president Andrew Halpin is pleased to have him at the helm.

"He (Stayte) is very keen - he put his hand up for the position before Christmas and he wants to get into coaching - he has coached under-15 futsal teams for the last six months and has found a bit of a passion for coaching," Halpin said.

"Nathan Darlington did a great job and he has still offered to help out Staytey with a bit of mentoring if it's needed, and that's also great."

Making his job tougher, Stayte said a "substantial number" of key players from last season could be missing from the team.

"There are a few still umming and arring but it will probably be a new look team but hopefully we can win our first game and just play well as a team after that," he said.

"I will not change a great deal from what Darlo has taught us - he has been pretty well right but hopefully we can keep it going, and hopefully I can build the team around Sammy Simpson, Damon Giles, Lukey Ballantyne and myself.

"I sure will feel a bit of extra pressure soon but with a lot of help from previous coaches, stuff like that and (Reserve grade coach) Paul Barlow, we can get through."

Halpin said it was "always going to be hard to emulate the last three or four years".

"But we have still got a strong core of great players and a coaching staff we are still very happy with, and with a bit of youth and fresh blood from a coaching aspect, hopefully, that will also attract a few new young players," he said.

Nathan Freeman will again coach their Third Division side, but they are yet to appoint a Ladies League coach.

Training started this week on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 o'clock at Diggers Sports Club, Osborn St Norville.

New players are welcome in all divisions. For inquiries, call Halpin on 0408 889 710.



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