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Essendon Football Club and Bendigo Football Club are delighted to announce the appointment of Hayden Skipworth as Bendigo senior coach for 2012.

Skipworth, who played 44 games for Adelaide and 11 games for Essendon, has held a development role at Essendon since his retirement in 2009.

The 28-year-old said he was looking forward to the opportunity of coaching his own side.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to coach the club’s VFL affiliate and to further develop my coaching career,” Skipworth said.

“Initially, it wasn’t something that I set out to achieve this season but the opportunity arose and I am thrilled to be able to lead Bendigo next year.”

Skipworth replaces Shannon Grant, who after two years as Bendigo coach has taken a position at the Western Bulldogs as an assistant coach.

Essendon general manager of football operations Paul Hamilton said Skipworth was a perfect fit for the role.

“Hayden understands the culture of both clubs and will benefit from his experience developing younger players over the past few years,” Hamilton said.

“As a best and fairest winner for Bendigo and a player for the Essendon Football Club, we are thrilled he has decided to take on the role.”

Bendigo Football Club chairman David Joss said the appointment was a great result for the club.

“We are very excited to have Hayden on board,” Joss said.

“He understands the relationship between Essendon and Bendigo very well and we don’t think we could have asked for a better choice.

“We think from a leadership perspective, Hayden will be fantastic and with his experience as a development coach at Essendon we believe he’ll have no problems adapting to the challenges of coaching his own side.”

The long-standing VFL alignment between Essendon Football Club and Bendigo will conclude at the end of the 2012 season, with both clubs set to field stand alone sides from 2013 onwards.

Hamilton said Essendon's alignment with Bendigo had been a very successful and important partnership for the club.

“We have established strong links with Bendigo and enjoyed a great relationship with the Bendigo community over many years,” Hamilton said.

“The alignment has played a critical role in the development of our younger players and we have always had great support from Bendigo.”

Joss said the changes would not impede preparations for the upcoming 2012 season.

“It is certainly going to be a unique year and very much a transition year with Essendon and Bendigo going their own ways at the end of the 2012 season,” Joss said.

“But we all remain committed to honouring our partnership next year and making sure we get the best outcome for the players and for both clubs.”