Chris O’Keefe appointed playing coach of Caulfield Bears

October 16, 20180

FORMER Spotswood premiership mentor Chris O’Keefe appointed coach of Southern league club Caulfield.

October 16, 2018 – 1:30PM, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader

HIS resume was outstanding and his referees gave him glowing endorsements.

Little wonder Southern league club Caulfield was quick to appoint Chris O’Keefe as senior coach for 2019.

O’Keefe made a handsome reputation playing and coaching in the Western Region but he moved to the bayside area about 18 months ago and thought it was time to coach closer to home.

Chris O'Keefe celebrating a goal for Spotswood in 2013.
Chris O’Keefe and Ray Jensen with Spotswood’s 2011 premiership cup.

As he cast around for opportunities, Southern league media man David Hampton told him Caulfield was a club worth approaching.

O’Keefe emailed his CV and followed up with a phone call. The Bears liked what they read and heard.

“Couldn’t be happier. Delighted to have him on board,’’ president Darren Stait told Leader this morning.

O’Keefe, 37, will be a playing coach, lending his experience to a youthful side.

From Bungaree, he played with Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup and with North Ballarat in the VFL for five years before moving to Melbourne for work.

He joined Spotswood in 2008 and in six seasons enjoyed stunning success.

As playing coach O’Keefe took Spotty to the 2011-12-13 grand finals, winning the first and narrowly losing the next two.

He won the 2012 and ’13 Barry Priest medals as league best and fairest, was in the team of the year from 2008-13 and was Western Region coach of the year in 2011.

Returning to Bungaree as a player he was second in the Central Highlands league best and fairest in 2016 and played in a premiership.

O’Keefe has been playing coach of Western Region club Albion for the past two seasons. The Cats did it hard this year, finishing second-last with three wins and 15 losses.

The Bears made the 2016 Division 2 grand final, losing to Port Melbourne Colts, dropped out of the finals in straight-sets in 2017 and fell to Keysborough in the elimination final this year.

The club and coach Sein Clearihan recently parted ways.

“The most impressive part of his resume was that the four referees he (O’Keefe) nominated were people from his most recent clubs, including Albion,’’ Stait said.

“According to Chris, it wasn’t a great experience this year. But he was still happy for us to ring them, because there were no skeletons in his cupboard. To me that, that said a lot. We got glowing endorsements from all the clubs we contacted.’’

And O’Keefe said he received similarly good reports about Caulfield.

“I’m aware they’ve had some ups and downs in the past seven or eight years,’’ he said.

“But the feedback I’ve got is they’re a young and talented list with the potential to play Division 1 footy and that they’re a really good family-based club with a lot of players and support and it’s a place where people want to be.

“I’m hoping I can come in and help them win a premiership, sooner rather than later. I recognise it’s been 25 years since they’ve won a premiership.

“I can’t wait to get stuck into it … starting off at a new club is always exciting.’’

O’Keefe said he would look to recruit some experienced players to provide on-field direction and leadership.

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