LEETON-Whitton has suffered a major blow before next season with former coach Sam Darley sensationally quitting the club with a year to run on his contract.
Darley completed the first season of a two-year deal at the Crows this year, but has signed as co-coach of Bellarine League outfit Geelong Amateurs.
Leeton-Whitton confirmed via Facebook last Sunday that Darley would be replaced as coach by Coleambally footballer Tom Groves next year due to family reasons, but Darley would travel back from Victoria to play for the club.
However those hopes appear to be dashed after the 28-year-old, who established himself as arguably the Riverina League's best player this year, agreed to terms with the Amateurs.
Leeton-Whitton president Tim Carroll said although the club still holds a slim hope of changing Darley's mind, it's highly likely he won't be returning.
But the Crows will look to touch base with Darley to get a better gauge of the reasoning behind his decision.
Darley has not responded to multiple attempts by The Daily Advertiser to contact him regarding his departure.
"We'll basically try and work it out with him and if he definitely can't come back, that's how it is," Carroll said.
"We'll probably accept it, but certainly we'll try and liaise with him and talk to him about why it happened.
"It sounds like he's probably not coming, we don't hold out much hope. (But) we need a bit more information, he hasn't spoken to any of us since he left last week so we don't really know what's going on.
"It's disappointing, no doubt about that. We've seen what impact he's had on the team this year, we started pretty ordinary but due to the way he was playing and also his coaching, we were playing some pretty good football towards the end of the year."
It isn't the first time Darley has severed ties with a club with a year left on his deal, after he walked out on Geelong side North Shore to return to home club North Hobart three years ago.
IN OTHER NEWS
Darley has a ten month old son, Clay, and his partner Lill will return to the police force in Geelong.
"I'm a different person at 28 than I was at 24," Darley told krockfootball.com.au. "I've had a child and been through a few things in my life and have learnt things.
"A lot of people that tend to write things or say stuff or have opinions are the same people that don't say anything when they see you in person.
"In terms of relevancy to me, or how I feel about it, it doesn't really matter. The people around me know where I am now and the person that I am.
"I think that will show when I come back. As long as the people that know me see me in the right light, it doesn't really matter too much."
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