Neil Craig

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For the American football player, see Neal Craig.
Neil Craig
Neil Craig 04.03.17.jpg
Craig in March 2017
Personal information
Full name Neil P. Craig
Date of birth (1956-01-11) 11 January 1956 (age 61)
Draft No. 2, 1981 interstate draft
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1973–1979 Norwood 126
1980–1986 Sturt 134
1987–1990 North Adelaide 61
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2004–2011 Adelaide 166 (92–74–0)
2013 Melbourne 011 0(1–10–0)
Total 177 (93–84–0)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1990.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2013.
Career highlights

Neil Passmore Craig (born 11 January 1956) is the Director of Coaching at the Carlton Football Club, a former Australian rules footballer, fitness adviser, former coach of the Adelaide Football Club, a former caretaker coach of the Melbourne Football Club, as well as the former General Manager of Performance at the Essendon Football Club.

Playing career[edit]

Craig played a total of 319 games (and kicked 220 goals) in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) as well as 11 State of Origin matches for South Australia.

He played 126 games for the Norwood Football Club, debuting as a 17-year-old in 1973. He was a part of their premiership sides in 1975 and 1978, before leaving the club after the 1979 season.[1]

Craig played 134 games for Sturt (captaining the side in 1985 and 1986) between 1980 and 1986 and was also captain of South Australia in 1984.

He moved to North Adelaide, where he finished his career, playing 61 games between 1987 and 1990. At one stage of his career, Craig was pursued by Footscray, a Victorian team in the Victorian Football League (VFL), but declined the offer as he preferred to stay in South Australia.[2] At that time there was a great rivalry between the VFL and SANFL and both competitions considered themselves the best in Australia.

Post-playing career[edit]

In 1991, Craig became the coach of Norwood, a position he held until 1995. In 2002, he was inducted into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame[3]

Fitness advising[edit]

Craig hails from a fitness background and holds a sports science degree.[4]

He has worked with the Australian cycling team at the Olympic Games and with the South Australian Institute of Sport, as a senior sports scientist.[5] He has worked under cycling legend Charlie Walsh at the Australian Cycling Federation (where he was Sports science co-ordinator)[6] and also recruited Walsh as part of the Crows' AFL coaching panel.[7]

Adelaide[edit]

In 1997, Craig took up the position of fitness adviser with the Adelaide Crows. He is credited with helping devise the fitness regime that led the Crows to back-to-back premierships in 1997 and 1998 in which players were trained harder mid-season in order to reach peak fitness during finals matches.[8]

Craig left the club in 1999 to help the Australian Olympic cycling team prepare for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games but returned in 2001 to be an assistant coach under Gary Ayres. In late 2001 Craig was the favourite for the West Coast Eagles coaching job in 2002 but dropped out of the running. He took over the senior coaching position at the Crows in 2004 as caretaker when Ayres left the club after Round 13. He was then appointed full-time for the 2005 season and immediately led the Crows to their first minor premiership in 2005,[9] and took the team to two successive preliminary finals in his first two years as senior coach (2005 and 2006). Under Craig the Crows reached the finals for five consecutive years but achieved limited success, leaving Craig with a finals' coaching record of three wins and six losses. After a disappointing 2010 and 2011, Craig resigned on 25 July 2011 after a 103-point loss to St Kilda.[10] He left the club as the longest serving coach in the Crows' history.

Melbourne[edit]

After his resignation as Adelaide coach, Craig was signed as the Director of Sports Performance at the Melbourne Football Club on 29 September 2011, beginning in the 2012 season. His primary role was mentoring and assisting the players of the club, in particular the younger players, and to mentor and assist the other assistant coaches, including an assistant coach.[11]

Despite the off-season acquisitions of several experienced players, such as Shannon Byrnes, Tom Gillies, Chris Dawes and David Rodan, the Demons underachieved in the first half of 2013 AFL season, managing just 1 win in their first 11 games. As the result of this poor start to the 2013 season, after the Demons' mid-season bye on 17 June 2013, the Demons' head coach, Mark Neeld, was sacked. His sacking came within weeks of the departures of senior Demons' staff members Cameron Schwab and Don McLardy. Subsequently, Craig was appointed as the caretaker coach of the Demons for the remainder of the 2013 season.[12] Craig coached the Demons for 11 games, managing just 1 win, for a winning percentage of just 9%. Craig left the club after the completion of the 2013 season with former Sydney Swans premiership coach Paul Roos taking over the senior coaching role at the end of the season.

Essendon[edit]

On 10 October 2013, Craig was appointed to the newly created role of head of coaching development and strategy at the Essendon Football Club[13] and then on 15 April 2014, he was promoted to the position of General Manager, Performance. In this role Craig will oversee all team performance functions including coaching, development and high performance meaning that the coaching staff will report to him.[14]

Carlton[edit]

On 30 September 2015, Craig was appointed to Brendon Bolton's new coaching panel at Carlton, taking on the role of Director of Coaching, Development and Performance.[15]

Coaching statistics[edit]

[16]
Legend
 W  Wins  L  Losses  D  Draws  W%  Winning percentage  LP  Ladder position  LT  League teams
Season Team Games W L D W % LP LT
2004 Adelaide 9 4 5 0 44.4% 12 16
2005 Adelaide 25 18 7 0 72.0% 1 16
2006 Adelaide 24 17 7 0 70.8% 2 16
2007 Adelaide 23 12 11 0 52.2% 8 16
2008 Adelaide 23 13 10 0 56.5% 5 16
2009 Adelaide 24 15 9 0 62.5% 5 16
2010 Adelaide 22 9 13 0 40.9% 11 16
2011 Adelaide 16 4 12 0 25.0% 14 17
2013* Melbourne 11 1 10 0 9.1% 17 18
Career totals 177 93 84 0 52.5%

* = Caretaker Coach

References[edit]