AFL veteran Craig Lambert joins Cannons coaching group

What an investment of talent in junior AFL coaching! The Canada Bay Cannons is excited to announce the appointment of Richmond and Brisbane Lions veteran Craig Lambert to the coaching group at the Club.

Lambert, who has joined the U17 coaching team, will be working closely with former on-field opponent Tony Malakellis, who is the coach of the Cannons U15s.

Lambert played 123 games for Richmond between 1988 and 1993 when he went to the Brisbane Bears (49 games) and Brisbane Lions (47 games).

Lambert won the Jack Dyer Medal for Richmond’s Best and Fairest in 1991 and the Bears’ Best and Fairest in 1994. He was named in the All Australian team in 1996. A tough, brave player, he was known for his pinpoint handballing, even under immense pressure from opponents, constantly providing opportunities for teammates.

Malakellis recalls first coming across Lambert on the footy field when the pair were both playing U19s. Lambert was playing for the Tigers, while Malakellis was with Geelong. Malakellis went on to play 14 games for Geelong in the AFL, before moving to the Sydney Swans for a season. He moved to South Australia in 1994 and played 70 games for Port Adelaide, which included back to back premierships in 1994 and 1995. In 1994, he was runner up in South Australia’s Magarey Medal.

Malakellis has coached youth footy with Canada Bay Cannons for the past four years and was previously involved in coaching with one of the Cannons’ junior clubs, Concord Giants.

Before moving to Brisbane, Lambert had three sons associated with either the Cannons or Drummoyne Power, the other Cannons’ junior club. He assisted with coaching duties for the premiership winning U17 side in 2015. His youngest son, Bodey, will play in the U17 side this year.

Cannons Coaching Coordinator Mike Andrews said Lambert will be backed by Lachlan Bennetts-Inkster – a young coach who has come up through the ranks of the junior club – and fitness expert at the Cannons, Matt Parker. The U17 squad will work in close collaboration with Malakallis and his U15 team.

Andrews said the Cannons recognised the importance of quality coaching to on-field performance and player retention and recruitment. Last year, the Cannons took part in an innovative coach mentorship program with the GWS Giants.

“Our Coach the Coach program with GWS, which will continue this year, is a truly unique program that allows our coaches to be trained in coaching techniques by the best in the business.

“We believe that by developing strong ties with GWS Giants and exposing our coaches to coach mentoring at this level, it can’t help but filter through to the on-field performance of the boys and girls who play AFL with the Canada Bay Cannons.

“We’re really excited to welcome Craig and his family back to the fold at the Canada Bay Cannons.

“We are looking to take our quality of coaching to the next level, believing this will impact on the players’ skill and enjoyment of the game,” Andrews said.