Dignified Craig bows out as Crows coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dignified Craig bows out as Crows coach

Steve Larkin 25/07/2011 09:10:48 PM Comments (0)

Mocked as a sports scientist who created 'Crowbots', Neil Craig reckons he's misunderstood.

"I am a funny guy," Craig insisted as he quit as coach of AFL club Adelaide on Monday.

He's also a realist.

"One thing I know about life is that you come along and you're actually a very small speck in the big scheme of things," Craig said.

"So I would like to be remembered as a brick in the wall of the Adelaide footy club, that maybe in his time had a positive influence.

"And hopefully the brick doesn't get salt damp."

Craig's departure was dignified and true to his long-time promise: he would never have to be pushed, but would know when it was time to stand aside.

His exit was also laced with humour.

A breath after admitting being worn down by scrutiny of his tenure, a grinning Craig said: "I have got plenty left. I am only just going to have a little break then I'm going again. I'm going to fire up, I don't know where - I'm only just getting the hang of this."

Before becoming a renowned sports scientist working within Australia's elite cycling program, Craig was a SANFL great.

A state of origin captain, a premiership player, a veteran of 321 SANFL games in a decorated career from 1973 to 1990.

Craig went immediately from playing to coaching, leading SANFL club Norwood for five years from 1991-95.

He then moved into high performance cycling, before being lured to the AFL as Adelaide's fitness coach in 1997.

The Crows promptly won premierships in '97 and '98 with Craig's radical fitness regime underpinning both triumphs.

Craig introduced withering training workloads in the latter stages of both home and away seasons, priming the Crows for September finals success.

An assistant coaching gig followed in 2001 under Gary Ayres - until Ayres was sacked with nine games remaining of the 2004 season.

Craig accepted the caretaker coaching role but, in his third game as the main man, Adelaide lost in Brisbane by 141 points - still the Crows' heaviest defeat.

Despite that trouncing, Craig was appointed as head coach for 2005 and then stunned the AFL world with a new style of play.

Adopting zones and presses years before they were buzzwords, Craig's Crows finished fourth in 2005; third in 2006 - and became known as the Crowbots for their systematic style.

Craig missed the finals just once in his six full seasons, but never contested a grand final - his record tarnished by just three wins from nine finals.

But, to the end, Craig kept perspective.

"This is not life threatening, this is a game," he said when asked if quitting was the hardest decision of his life.

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