Monday, June 4, 2018 - 10:27 AM by Chris Pike

HE is already West Perth's longest-ever serving coach and now Bill Monaghan reaches another significant milestone in Monday's WA Day Derby becoming the first Falcons boss to ever get to 200 matches.

It's remarkable to now consider that Monaghan did a long coaching apprenticeship and there was a time when he thought he might not even get a chance to be a WAFL senior coach going back a little over a decade.

Following 204-game playing career at both Subiaco and Peel Thunder, Monaghan stepped into a coaching role back with the Lions leading the reserves to great success and being part of the league triumphs too under Peter German.

But Monaghan had missed out on a couple of jobs he had applied for and by the time he put his hand up to coach West Perth in 2009 following the departure of Todd Curley, he wasn’t sure if he could go through the whole process again if he didn’t get the nod.

However, Monaghan was appointed coach of West Perth and has never looked back since and not only is he the longest-serving Falcons coach of all-time, but no matter what happens going forward he'll always be considered one of the very best too.

Along the way Monaghan led West Perth to the 2013 premiership, was the WAFL State coach in 2014 and has an impressive record so far of 110 wins, 87 losses and two draws.

He now reaches his 200-game milestone this WA Day with West Perth hosting East Perth at Joondalup Arena as he not only becomes the first Falcons coach to reach the mark, but the first man in WAFL history to have played 200 matches and now being a non-playing coach for another 200.

While Monaghan's focus is on the job at hand on Monday, he is understandably proud of the milestone.

"I am looking forward to it, I'd be silly to say I wasn’t but when you are a coach it's a little bit different," Monaghan said on The WAFL Show.

"It's a great milestone, I've ticked a couple of things off along the way at West Perth, but really it's business as usual and it's about trying to get the players up for a derby and a must-win game for us. I sit back and reflect on it every now and again, and I'm really proud of the achievement."

Considering the fact that West Perth was Monaghan's fiercest rivals when he was at Subiaco, it is sometimes a source amusement for him that he's gone on to become the Falcons' longest-serving coach and a premiership winner.

But he threw himself fully into everything about the West Perth culture straightaway and has overseen a tremendous era since he took over in 2009.

His contract now expires at the end of 2018 and while both he and the club have some things to work through, if everything in life went in the direction where he could continue, Monaghan would be more than happy to remain West Perth coach in 2019 and beyond.

"It's probably a question that quite a few people have asked me over the last three or four months, but all I know is that the club and I have been in some discussion for probably eight to 12 months about what the future looks like post 2018," he said.

"For circumstances not related to football, I'm not ready to make a decision and haven’t been ready to make a decision, but as recently as two or three weeks I sat down with the club and for everyone's benefit we needed to start talking a little bit more earnestly about how the club will be positioned in 2019. 

"I would think that sometime in the next four to six weeks we'll have a decision on what I'm doing in 2019 and I think if all things go the way we'd like them to be at least from my point of view, I'll most likely still be coaching West Perth."

While Monaghan deserves to be proud of the success he has led West Perth to on the field as coach, what he takes greater pride in is being part of the journeys of young men and helping them along the way.

Whether that is teenagers who go on to become stars of the competition like Aaron Black, Shane Nelson or Kody Manning, veterans like Jay van Berlo and Andrew Strijk, or those dedicated to the club even without league chances like Cameron Branch and until this year, Jordan Mills, it's the individuals he's worked with that mean the most to him.

"We talk a lot in coaching about improving the skills of the players and their football ability, but probably the greatest satisfaction you get out of coaching is seeing young men grow," he said.

"That's a bit of a cliché and lots of clubs say it's about making them better people, but I find with football clubs that the environments of a team sport is great for young men. It's great for a sense of belonging and some guys do it hard and don't play a lot of senior footy but still want to be involved. 

"I can talk about the top end of my players and the success stories of blokes being drafted and becoming premiership players, but the players that I admire just as much are the guys who roll up three or four times a week and don't play league footy. Their reward is $10 a game if they do play reserves."

The list of players that Monaghan has coached in his time at the helm of West Perth is quite impressive too. While he'd never like to single anybody out, it's pretty hard to go past Andrew Strijk just in terms of quality and longevity, and considering he is still in stunning form including kicking eight goals just two weeks ago.

"There are so many players I've coached and some of them I only got the tail end of their careers," he said. 

"If you look at someone like Brent LeCras, who I coached for a while, or Callum Chambers or Clayton Lasscock, they are great players but they probably didn’t play their best football necessarily when I coached them. 

"Then you coach briefly AFL-listed players like Quinten Lynch, Kepler Bradley and those types of players. 

"But in terms of the type of person you want to coach, Jason Salecic is right up there but in terms of pure football ability I don’t think that Andrew Strijk would have anyone who has been a better player that I've coached."

What Monaghan should also take great pride in is the fact that West Perth has remained such a competitive outfit throughout his entire 199 games. 

Not only was there the premiership of 2013 and Grand Final appearance of 2015, but he's taken West Perth to finals in six of his nine previous seasons, and right now they are on track to be back there again with a 4-3 record heading into the WA Day clash with East Perth.

"It's not based on huge numbers of recruits. Yes, we've recruited like everyone else little bits here to top up, but what we've got is probably a better strike rate of any club of keeping our own in the system," Monaghan said.

"We might not play more local kids than Claremont or East Fremantle, but we are comparable with those numbers and over my time we've probably had more 100 or 150-game players over the last 10 years. 

"Once they get to 30, 40 or 50 games there might be a little bit of a lull where the numbers aren’t right but all of a sudden we get six or seven guys around the 80, 100 or 120-game mark and we get strong again without needing to recruit a lot. 

"We just top up but we have a really strong group of core players who drive development and improvement. They set great examples for the young kids and they have no option but to follow."