Geelong’s long time recruiting and list manager Stephen Wells’ contribution to the game has been recognised by the AFL Coaches Association, who have awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wells began his career with the Cats in 1984 when he moved to Echuca to become a development zone officer. This was back in the days that clubs still had zones for recruiting purposes.
Then recruiting manager, Bill McMaster (former Cats premiership player who also coached the Cats in 1971-72 before becoming their first full time recruiting officer in 1973), realised early on that Stephen was very good at spotting talented footballers.
After two years in Echuca in the development officer role, Wells moved back to Geelong in 1986 where he had roles assistant coaching the U19 team (1986-1990), in football administration as assistant football manager (1991-1994), all whilst continuing to assist Bill McMaster with recruiting.
When McMaster retired at end of 1994 and Wells took on the role of recruiting manager. His first draft was in 1995 where the club selected the likes of Darren Milburn, Stephen King and Clint Bizzell.
At one stage during the mid-to-late nineties, Stephen actually held the role of football manager as well as recruiting manager.
Wells has continued to hold the role of recruiting manager to this date, and along the way added responsibility of also becoming the list manager as the recruiting & list management landscape evolved in 2000’s.
Wells is a life member of the Geelong Football Club and was lauded the Reg Hickey Award for services to football in 2008.
He was also an exceptional player. Wells started in local football with Geelong Amateur and Ocean Grove before moving to Geelong West in the VFA. He helped the Roosters to the 1979 VFA grad final and represented the VFA against South Australia in 1979.
Wells later moved to West Adelaide in the SANFL and then moved to Queensland where he helped Southport win its inaugural QAFL premiership in 1983.
“This is a tremendous honour, particularly in light of the fact it is now named in recognition Neale Daniher. I’d like to thank the AFLCA for this award.
“Being fortunate enough to spend so much of my life in the football industry and at Geelong has been a great reward in itself. The club has been very good to me over the years, and the fraternity within the AFL is very close and full of great people,” Wells said.
“I would like to thank all those I have worked with through the years. There are too many to mention, but I would like to draw attention to a few that have had a particularly strong impact on my time at Geelong.
“Bill McMaster gave me a great opportunity and has always been supportive. Brian Cook has been the CEO with us for over 20 years and has done great things for the club. And Neil Balme was and continues to be a great friend after working with him for eight years.
“I have loved working with six senior coaches in my time – Tom Hafey, John Devine, Malcom Blight, Gary Ayers, Mark Thompson, and Chris Scott. Our last four coaches have all coached the club to a grand final which is what we are striving for.”