NICK Baird returned to the coaching ranks in the best possible fashion at Tamworth’s No. 1 Oval on Saturday.
His Inverell Saints delivered an 11.16 82 to 5.10 40 first- round loss to the Tamworth Swans in the opening-round match.
Tamworth Kangaroos then crunched Gunnedah Bulldogs 16.15 111 to 6.8 44 in the second game of the double- header.
Baird coached the Saints in 2010 and 2011, winning a TAFL flag in 2010 and losing a grand final in 2011.
The past couple of seasons he’s been on the other side of the sporting landscape, umpiring and also officiating as TAFL secretary.
The Inverell schoolteacher had had his fill of lonely drives to umpire TAFL games and decided to play again this season.
When he told long-serving Saints president, and good mate, Dick Gleeson, about him pulling the boots back on, Gleeson told him he may as well coach too.
So that brought Baird to No 1 Oval on Saturday as coach and looking forward to a good season despite the onset of an early winter.
“We got the result, that was the main thing,” Baird said.
Michael Gould and Tom Williams were two of his best.
Gould kicked three goals and was a “target” all day.
“I just told him to keep leading, and keep presenting,” Baird said.
“He got some room and received some good service.
“And I thought Tom was really good. He’s back from Bathurst and caused them a bit of trouble on the wing.
“Luke Selig was good too in the middle.
“I was also impressed with a couple of new kids. Adrian Cox was having his first game of football .
“He came to training one day three months ago and has impressed me with his application. He’s a quick learner.”
Baird said all 22 players impressed him on Saturday in the miserable conditions.
He also said it was good to “get one big trip” out of the way and follow that up with another trek this Saturday to Gunnedah.
“Then we have five at home. We swapped a game with the Roos because we clashed with a Hawks (rugby league) game.”
In other first-round TAFL games, reigning premiers New England Nomads beat Narrabri Eagles 19.18 132 to 6.9 45 and Tamworth Kangaroos beat Gunnedah 6.8 44.
TAFL TABLE: New England Nomads 4 (293.33%), Tamworth Kangaroos 4 (254.27%), Inverell Saints 4 (205%), Tamworth Swans 0 (48.78%), Gunnedah Bulldogs 0 (39.44%), Narrabri Eagles 0 (34.09%).
THIS SATURDAY (Round 2): New England Nomads v Tamworth Swans (Bellevue Oval, Armidale), Tamworth Kangaroos v Narrabri Eagles (No 1 Oval, Tamworth), Gunnedah Bulldogs v Inverell Saints (Wolseley Park, Gunnedah).