AFL 1997 – Twenty Years On: Introduction and The Coaches

The 1997 AFL Grand Final Record featured the photo of every one of the 575 players who took the park in the firsts during that season.

In the run up to the finals, we’ll be rehashing shamelessly copying and pasting presenting for your enjoyment and comment, each of the player photos per club (plus the full club lists), counting down from sixteenth to first. (This is one story that has a happy ending).

We’ll start the first bounce with the eighteen coaches. Yep, sixteen teams back then, but eighteen coaches. The captions hint at the departure of Balme and Walls, but not the stories.

Twenty years on and, from that lot, only Rocket Eade is still going (just) in a top level coaching gig, but many others are still refusing to give it away involved in footy and/or the media. And vale Ken Judge.

What do you remember of these coaches back in the days of chambray club shirts, boundary riders in bomber jackets and Wayne Jackson being the first in a shortish line of SA-born private school educated AFL CEOs?


You can review all of the AFL 1997 lists here

About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. charlie brown says

    Wayne Jackson was only tarnished so does that still count?

  2. Ah yes, 1997. The year the Cats were robbed.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Replace Tony Shaw’s face with Nathan Buckley’s and fast-forward 20 years to find CFC in an almost identical predicament on the field.
    Stan Alves was a fine coach who got treated quite shabbily, I reckon.

  4. Earl O'Neill says

    I’ve a copy of the ’97 AFL official guide on the sportsbook shelf. When I moved house two years ago, found a copy of a long thought lost season review I wrote in ’97. Threw it in a box, intending to quote my brilliant prescience, haven’t seen it since.
    Wayne had a nice line in bright wooly jumpers, Aragorn oughta try that. Or pull the boots on.

  5. I think Jack Cahill still has a chook shop on Military Road at Grange. Can’t comment on the quality of potato cakes.

  6. How often is a persons greatest strength is also there greatest weakness,Balmey is the classic example re the trust and influence he let his players have during his coaching journey in general

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Grumpy Mick looks decidedly less grumpy than he’d later become.
    Why don’t coaches get photographed in their teams guernseys anymore?

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks fellow time-travellers.

    Charlie – PAC was only a notch up from EHS

    Dips – Colbert would have missed it anyway

    Phil – Correct, except for the intervening blip in 2010 which I doubt will be repeated in 2030. Agree re Stan Alves too.

    Earl – Jacko coached Torrens for a while in the 70s and kicked on corporately too. Had too much sense to continue at AFL

    Mickey – Are his chooks reheated like his cars were?

    ‘Book – Balme still seems to have a fair degree of respect from those in the caper.

    Luke – I’m sure I could dig out one with Blighty in full Crows kit

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