AFL 2021: Meet Brisbane Lions new football boss Danny Daly

New Lions football boss Danny Daly has a knack for numbers.

It stems from a previous life as a bank manager where he would crunch the figures on mortgages and finances.

You can almost see those digits still swirling in his head — as was evident when, during the Lions AFLW season opener in Melbourne earlier this month, Daly pointed out an extra player up the back would help counteract a gusty breeze.

The 54-year-old has started life as the club’s general manager of football, taking the reins from Kangaroos-bound David Noble, in a new chapter at the club in their quest to end their premiership drought.

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Danny Daly is Brisbane’s new General Manager of Football. Picture: Richard WalkerSource:News Corp Australia

Daly hasn’t been plucked from obscurity – he has been coach Chris Fagan’s right-hand man for the past four years as the club’s head of strategy.

Born and bred in the footy heartland of Richmond, Victoria, Daly began the first 16 years of his working life as a bank manager, in roles as an accountant, branch manager and company relations manager at Westpac and The Bank of Melbourne.

But if there’s one thing he enjoys more than numbers, it’s footy.

By his own admission, he loves to pick apart the game to the “nth degree”.

It was after his second knee reconstruction — he would eventually suffer a third while playing footy on the beach — when Daly decided to give coaching a go, leading him to a part-time job with Collingwood while still working at the bank.

As Daly puts it, “the bank gave me two years leave without pay and I’m still going”.

Twenty years later and Daly has amassed an impressive coaching and managing record – at Collingwood, North Melbourne, Richmond and Brisbane – in roles ranging from welfare manager to assistant coach.

Daly and Brisbane defender Harris Andrews in 2020. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“I just love the game,” Daly said.

“In my early days, I used to watch a lot of footy.

“There was one year where I watched 106 live games, including our own at North Melbourne.

“I’ve always had a passion about what clubs are doing strategy-wise, tactic-wise and trying to break it down to the nth degree.”

In 2015, Daly left the high-flying Tigers after seven years with the club to join the lowly Lions in a move he was sometimes left to question.

“The first year or two was pretty tough but it’s been a good move for us,” he said.

“At the end of my first year, it was always in the back of my mind wondering ‘where’s the journey in this?’.

“There were times I thought I’d be better off going back to Melbourne.”

Enter Fagan.

The former Hawthorn football manager-turned-coach has transformed the Lions into premiership contenders and has had Daly by his side for the past four years as his strategy coach.

The pair have struck up a strong friendship in recent years, even to the extent where both would prepare for an upcoming game on their day off during the regular season.

“When he was doing his former role (as strategy coach), we used to catch up every Wednesday when it was everyone’s day off,” Fagan said.

“He used to come around to my place and we’d go through the planning for the game the following weekend.

“He’s still welcome to do that.

“I’m happy to get all the help I can get.”

Danny Daly, right, with the rest of Chris Fagan’s coaching group last year. Picture: Annette DewSource:News Corp Australia

The main question being asked in AFL circles however, is how Daly will go filling the shoes of Noble – a man who proved instrumental in the Lions recent success.

“The GM of footy role is all about creating a high performance environment and being able to maintain that,” Fagan said.

“It’s one of those things you’ve always got to keep your eye on and Danny can do that particularly well because of all the experience that he has had.

“He’s worked in about every department there is at a footy club.”

Daly has also revealed his plans for the Lions football department following the club’s narrow miss at a historic grand final berth during the 2020 AFL season.

“We don’t want to change too much because that can be a dangerous thing,” Daly said.

“Just because you lose a final doesn’t mean you have to change everything.

“We just want to be great at what we’re good at.

“We want to become a great side and to do that, we just have to fix a lot of the areas that we were good at.

“Obviously our goalkicking, we need to get that right so we’ve done a bit of work on that.”

Originally published asMeet the man tasked with filling David Noble’s shoes

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