AFL 2023: David Noble, North Melbourne Coach, Dick Smith Racing, Alastair Clarkson, Kangaroos

David Noble has spent eight of the last ten years in administration but has been appointed senior coach at North Melbourne. So was he ever fit for the head coaching role?

Two months into his new role as chief executive officer of Supercars team Dick Johnson Racing, Noble said he’s enjoying his new challenge as he admitted his skills are better suited to sports administration than coaching.

Noble, who describes himself as a lifelong motorsport fan, was appointed CEO of the top Ford V8 team late last year, taking over from co-owner Ryan Story, who is retiring from day-to-day operations.

Noble was a long-time football administrator with the Adelaide Crows and Brisbane Lions before taking on the role of senior manager at the Kangaroos, where he was in charge for less than two seasons in 2021 and 2022.

His brief tenure at Arden St ended in July last year after just 38 games in charge.

Prior to his appointment as DJR, Noble also served on the working committee tasked with conducting the review of St Kilda’s football department.

While holding talks with AFL chief Gillon McLachlan and Andrew Dillon about the role of general manager for football at league headquarters, Noble said he was excited to take a new “direction” in his career.

“I’ve been a motorsports fan my whole life,” said Noble.

“I was really open to just sitting back and seeing what unfolds. I had a really great stint and I owe a lot to Footy, he’s taken care of me and my family all the way.

“But I was very open to my next direction and an opportunity that came up in another sport that I felt really suited the direction I wanted to go – back into that leadership role.

“I had a conversation with Andrew Dillon and Gil regarding the (AFL) GM role, but I was well on my way to speaking with (DJR co-owners) Ryan and Brett (Ralph) at this point.

“I was extremely energetic and happy and grateful to have had an opportunity with such an iconic brand.

“It was really stimulating. It’s obviously a new sport, so it’s a new challenge.”

After retiring from football, Noble has jumped straight into the DJR coal mine just as the Supercars series kicks off its new Gen3 era as teams race around the clock to get cars ready for the season opener in Newcastle.

Despite the detour from the coaching box to the pit lane garage, Noble felt there were many similarities that had eased his transition.

But he admitted he would be better suited for a role as a sports administrator.

“I do, there’s no doubt about that. It was a great opportunity (to train in the AFL) and I will be grateful to North for giving me this opportunity,” Noble said.

“But I estimate eight of my last 10 years have been in this administrative area from Adelaide to Brissy, with a bit of study in between, so that’s the direction I think a broader level organization could help.

“So it was nice to be able to get back into the stream that I probably went into a few years ago.

“As it turned out there are a lot of similarities in terms of structure, departments and how things evolve in terms of a motorsport team and in terms of an AFL structure.”

Reflecting on the end of his coaching tenure, Noble admitted it hadn’t been a “pleasant” end in football, but he was now fully invested in a “passion” of his second life.

“It wasn’t pleasant, it’s not an enjoyable time to go through,” Noble said.

“It’s very tiring, but you take on these roles with the understanding that, unfortunately, it can come to this.

“But I’m going to give this (DJR job) a good shake up for a while now.

“I think it’s really unusual to be able to have two passions in your life. I could stay in one for a long time.

“Those who know me [know] I have a couple of cars myself and I’ve been interested in motorsport for a long time and to work in a second one I can see myself trying for a long time.”

Noble was also looking forward to now being able to watch his son Magpie John play without the worry of being on an opposing team.

“It’s funny that I said to someone, ‘I’m going to be able to go to a game and watch as a dad without worrying about what they’re doing – is that the strategy I’m looking at? Is it stagnation? What are they doing as a forward line?’” Noble said.

“It’s going to be nice just being a parent, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Noble wished his successor Alastair Clarkson every success in his new role at North Melbourne.

“He’s a seasoned activist, I wish them well,” Noble said.

“They were able to take steps forward and knowing some of these guys and the work they would be willing to do I’m sure they will make some steps forward.

“I wish them all the best for the coming season and beyond.”

Originally posted as AFL 2023: David Noble opens up on painful exit from North Melbourne on his fitness as a coach AFL 2023: David Noble, North Melbourne Coach, Dick Smith Racing, Alastair Clarkson, Kangaroos

Ryan Sederquist

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