IT WAS as much relief as it was satisfaction for Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas yesterday when he announced Ken Hinkley as coach for the next four years.
There was a rare air of optimism at Alberton yesterday as Hinkley presented with a promise to reinforce the three elements that, like Brenton Sanderson down the road, he learnt from Geelong - stability, trust and confidence in what you do.
Hinkley said a journey has begun at Port Adelaide and along for the ride are director of coaching and coaching strategy Alan Richardson and high performance manager Darren Burgess.
Port even has a new sponsor and the assistant coaches who are staying had a ''help line'' embroidered on their shirts last week.
There for the announcement and delivering on his promise of not being too conspicuous by standing at the back of the room, was new chairman David Koch. All that is remaining to make this a near-complete changeover at Port is the naming of the other new board members - and most likely Brad Gotch as coach of the SANFL Magpies.
Thomas said Hinkley was highly regarded. ''A big part of our process was a concern about the cultural development of Port Adelaide and Ken is going to fit that bill perfectly,'' he said.
Hinkley, 46, said that he was dedicated to a cause, wanted to be successful and brought experience of some great programs.
It was family ties that delayed the process - the concerns of another shift for his wife, Donna, and their children Lisa, 23, Bec, 20, and Jordy, 14. ''As of Wednesday I will have been married 25 years,'' Hinkley said proudly. Come the end of the season, it may seem like 50 years for Mrs Hinkley, for the new coach understands he's taking on a tough gig.
Hinkley brushed aside the notion he was far from Port's No. 1 choice. ''People have said 'last man standing', but maybe I was the right man standing,'' he said. ''I have confidence in what I do.
''Port has a journey. I don't want to put ceilings on anything in regard to when success should come. I find that, certainly with younger people, they are capable of things sometimes. Let's get my feet in here, get stuck into things, let's see what pre-season brings and see what we can achieve.''
Hinkley is only the second coach in Port's SANFL and AFL history since 1870 to come from outside the club (Matthew Knights coached the SANFL Magpies for one season in 2004) and he is keen to make himself at home. ''We are going to create an environment that creates belief,'' he said. ''Anyone that plays for the Port Adelaide Football Club needs to believe where we are going. That's the key ingredient to our success.''