It has been quite a ride for incoming North Melbourne senior coach David Noble.
A mainstay in the football industry for the past 35 years, Noble has always been a silent achiever excelling through all aspects of the game.
Now at 53 years of age, he undertakes the biggest challenge of his long career as the figurehead of the much publicised North Melbourne rebuild.
Let’s reflect on what makes Noble so qualified for this role and the wealth of knowledge he will undoubtedly bring to Arden Street.
Hailing from Hobart, Noble began his senior football career with successful Tasmanian Football League (TFL) club North Hobart in 1985, with his speed and smarts with ball in hand seeing him become a very accomplished on baller.
Within two years of making his senior debut, Noble was promoted to Vice-Captain and assisted in leading his side to a pair of premierships in 1987 and 1989, resulting in interest from teams on the mainland in the newly formed Australian Football League (AFL).
Selected late in the 1989 draft by Fitzroy, Noble relocated to Melbourne and toiled away on the Lions list, eventually breaking into the senior side in 1991 for a brief two game stint with the then struggling Lions.
Delisted at the end of the 1991 season, Noble quickly began to establish himself on the coaching scene as he took up the role of captain-coach of the Upwey-Tecoma Tigers in the Yarra Valley Mountain Football League.
Here, the AFL senior coach in waiting, showed off his talent as a strategist and leader as in two seasons he took out consecutive Best and Fairest awards and inspired the Tigers to back to back division one premierships.
Noble would quickly move from the amateurs to the elite underage systems, signing on to be an assistant coach with TAC Cup side Oakleigh Chargers before taking the senior role for the NSW/ACT Rams in the national under 18’s competition.
Known as an elite innovator, offensive strategist and opposition analyst, AFL club’s quickly took notice of the Tasmanian’s coaching ability and in 1997 was given his first opportunity in the national competition with the Western Bulldogs as a senior assistant and coach of the reserves.
During his time with the Dogs, Noble was vital in assisting Terry Wallace bringing the senior side to consecutive Preliminary Finals whilst also leading the reserves to a premiership in 1998.
After four successful years at the Bulldogs, Noble set his sights on the SANFL to continue his coaching apprenticeship and joined the Glenelg Football Club as senior coach in 2002.
Stepping into a new role as head coach of a proud SANFL club such as Glenelg was a tough assignment for the relatively inexperienced Noble, as in his two seasons at the helm the team failed to make the finals.
Despite this, Noble was given the ability to grow as the senior coach of his own side and allow his innovative tactics to flourish as he re-entered the AFL scene with the up and coming Adelaide Crows.
Joining Neil Craig’s panel prior to the 2005 season as a midfield coach and senior assistant, the club would transform and climb rapidly up the ladder to claim the minor premiership.
Following this excellent first season, the Crows would qualify for the finals throughout the next four seasons, with Noble’s innovations sparking the creation of a powerful Adelaide midfield throughout the mid to late 2000s.
Hailed by many within the four walls at Adelaide, Noble was a relatively unknown figure in the greater football world and despite his success in the coaches box he quietly changed tune and switched departments at the football club, flagging an interest in list management.
Taking up the role of General Manager of List Development & Strategy at the Crows in 2010, Noble went about rebuilding the club’s list following the retirements of legends such as Mark Ricciuto, Andrew McLeod, Tyson Edwards and Brett Burton.
Faced with setbacks such as the heavy draft sanctions imposed on the club as a result of the Kurt Tippett saga, Noble was able to find a number of diamonds in the rough through draft and trade as the Crows quickly began their rise up the ladder.
Promoted to Head of Football in 2014, the Crows went from strength to strength through Noble’s time as an administrator as smart decisions both on and off the field would see the club in a position to contend for a flag with a list demographic that promised sustained success.
Pivotal in the club’s superb handling of the Phil Walsh tragedy, Noble was the rock that kept the Crows together for over a decade, which in turn made him so desirable to a Brisbane Lions team on the cusp of complete disaster at the end of 2016.
Following esteemed former Hawthorn coach and administrator Chris Fagan, Noble joined the Lions prior to the 2017 season as the club’s General Manager of Football, tasked with the herculean role of rebuilding the club from the depths of despair.
Focussing on building a strong culture, Noble went to work on building a young and exciting list that the elder Fagan could guide to victory both on and off the football field.
Whether it be luring superstars Charlie Cameron and Lachie Neale to the club, or the clever drafting of Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry and Cameron Rayner, Noble was pivotal in creating what is now the most enviable list in the competition.
In just four years, Noble had turned the Lions from a basket-case to a modern day powerhouse where players from opposition clubs want to play their football.
Now, similarly to his great ally Fagan, Noble must come forward into the spotlight and guide one football’s proudest clubs out of the wilderness and into prosperity.
Rich with experience through all aspects of the game, he is the perfect appointment and will be able to build both a game plan and culture that will thrive in the modern game.
A true journeyman, David Noble deserves some more respect for the major influence he has had over multiple clubs spanning over three decades.
This opportunity is his opportunity to prove himself as one of the great football minds of this generation.