Sport AFL It’s a Ling way to the top
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It’s a Ling way to the top

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Cameron Ling has decided to shelve his full-time coaching ambitions for at least the next two years – but he’d better make sure the industry doesn’t decide to put him on the shelf instead.

Ling had been strongly touted as a potential senior coach, and had fielded “very flattering offers and roles” from three clubs, according to a report in The Age.

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‘Lingy’ makes friends wherever he goes. Photo: Getty

If Ling is truly serious about being a senior coach he should have struck while the iron is hot. Yes, he has a young family – his partner Nicole is due to give birth to the couple’s second child this weekend and their first, Max, was born in December 2012.

Just as he was throughout his 246-game career with the Cats, Ling is very, very good at his job.

The lure of a comfortable media career and being on hand during the day to help out at home must be an enticing carrot.

But if Ling truly has the fire (and only he can really know if he does) he needs to change his mind and get back in the game.

It’s a rare instance when a man can take a break from the day-in, day-out rigours of “the system” and walk straight back in without missing a beat.

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James Hird spent a few years pursuing business interests and working in the media before returning to the Bombers, and Mick Malthouse took a year’s break to work with Channel 7 between his Collingwood and Carlton gigs, but these were exceptional cases.

Perhaps Ling feels he’s truly found his niche – he’s the best boundary rider Channel 7 has ever had, and is a reassuring, knowledgeable and professional broadcaster. Just as he was throughout his 246-game career with the Cats, Ling is very, very good at his job.

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Ling must make his move now if he wants another one of these. Photo: Getty

For a bloke who’d be the first to admit he’s got a great head for radio, he’s been a most welcome presence on the telly.

It’s not difficult, given how little former footballers usually add to television coverage. Matthew Richardson is endearing but Mark Ricciuto, Wayne Carey and that dean of the past-players department, Professor Barry Hall, do little to elevate the debate.

For his own sake let’s hope Ling doesn’t get 10 years down the smooth, sealed media highway and wish he’d taken the beaten track of top-level coaching.

The burning issue for Ling is where he sees himself in 10 years time. Will he feel fulfilled conducting 45 second interviews with a coach walking to the box, or giving injury updates on rolled ankles and pinged hammies, or does he want something more?

I’ve never met Ling, but he strikes me as the kind of guy who likes to be liked – a great trait, but not one that necessarily lends itself to being a successful football coach.

Maybe after 12 years of running with and trying to upset the best midfielders in the AFL, Ling’s run out of mongrel?

Maybe he likes that red hair of his so much that the thought of it turning grey overnight under the pressure of coaching is what’s putting him off.

Personally, I hope he stays in the media, because I like him and enjoy his presence on the screen.

But for his own sake let’s hope Ling doesn’t get 10 years down the smooth, sealed media highway and wish he’d taken the beaten track of top-level coaching.

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