Almanac Teams: A team of coaches

The coaches’ coach, Jack Worrall


How do we judge great coaching? Is it percentage of wins? Premierships? Developing assistants to become successful in their own right?


Every coach in this team has a premiership medallion for their efforts.


Indeed South Melbourne’s Jack Bisset coached the Bloods for only 57 games between 1933 to 1936. His winning percentage was an impressive 78.75% and four Grand Finals in a row for one win and three losses.


How does history judge those that coached for years without a premiership? Rodney Eade, Terry Wallace, Gary Ayres, Bob Rose, Stan Alves, John Northey and Ross Lyon could all have been premiership coaches. Bad luck or just not good enough when it counted?


Jack Cahill was a fine coach who was not appreciated at Collingwood. His record with Port Adelaide (Pre-Power) speaks for itself.


Over to you Almanackers? What are some of the criteria that need to be taken into account and who are your nominations?


B: Tom Hafey (Rich/Coll) Fred Hughson (Fitz) David Parkin (Haw/Fitz/Carl)


HB: Mark Thompson (Geel/Ess) Reg Hickey (Geel) Alistair Clarkson (Haw)


C: Jack Bisset (Sth Melb) Jock McHale (Coll) Frank ‘Checker’ Hughes (Melb)


HF: Malcolm Blight (Adel/StK) Norm Smith (Fitz/Melb/Sth Melb) Perce Bentley (Rich/Carl)


F: Leigh Matthews (Coll/Bris) John Coleman (Ess) John Longmire (Syd)


Ruck: John Nicholls (Carl) Ron Barassi (Mel/Carl/Nth/Syd) Dick Reynolds (Ess)


IC: John Kennedy (Haw/Nth Melb) Kevin Sheedy (Ess/GWS) Mick Malthouse (Foots/WCE/Coll/Carl) Allan Jeans (StK/Haw/Rich)


Coach: Jack Worrall (Carl/Ess)



Entertainment: Some memorable sprays from exasperated coaches courtesy of YouTube:




About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Now Phil what did the erudite Shane Warne say about coaches?

    Re the list of names of coaches without a flag to their names, Boby Rose definitely unlucky , the rest not good enough.

    Where would Luke Beveridge fit in to the equation. To take a club to their first flag in 62 years, their second ever flag, is a marvellous performance; first emergency?


  2. Len Rodwell says

    Parkin also coached the Mighty Roys with some success.

  3. Great idea Lord Bogan. I saw Jack Cahill play a lot at Port Adelaide Magpies in the 60’s. Brilliant left footed half forward who played 29 times for SA including beating the Vics on the MCG for the first time in 1963. Deserves to be in the team for his playing skills and his 10 SANFL coaching flags.
    Polly Farmer in my team in place of John Nicholls. Better player and Polly coached 2 flags at West Perth.
    Mark “Choco” Williams was a tireless midfielder at both Magpies and with his AFL coaching flag he deserves a guernsey at least in honour of his legendary coaching father Foster Williams.
    John Todd is the doyen of WA coaching with 6 flags at Swan Districts, East Fremantle and South Fremantle. I never saw him play but he won the Sandover Medal in the WAFL at age 17 beating Polly Farmer. A torn ACL cut short his playing career before there was surgical treatment, but he still won All Australian selection at the 1961 Carnival.
    And if you can relax the Flag Winning Career surely the Golden Tonsils of Dennis Cometti deserve a gig for his 3 seasons as coach of West Perth in the early 80’s (best finish 3rd). The great man in action:

  4. Dave Brown says

    Jack Oatey (777 matches coached at 66% success, 10 premierships, 3 as captain/coach) and Fos Williams (574 matches coached at 66% success, 9 premierships, 6 as captain/coach) are worthy South Australian additions – both played as rovers.

    Stan Alves very unlucky. Had very limited support at St Kilda, nonetheless was precisely one Darren Jarman away from coaching them to a flag.

    Maybe make Balmey the General Manager of the Football Department, too.

  5. Great team, Phil!

    I’m with Glen. Any coach that breaks a drought of 50 years or more deserves a guernsey, so Bevo and Roos would make my team. Also, any coach that can win a flag in his one and only year in the job deserves a place, too, so I’d give Charlie Clymo (1931 Geelong premiership coach) a spot somewhere.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Bob Rush is the only VFL/AFL coach with 100% record and a Premiership. He coached the Pies in the 1930 GF while Jock McHale was in bed with the flu. Furthermore, oversaw our 4th successive flag. A record that is still yet to be equaled in VFL/AFL.

    Quirks of fate..

  7. Strong bench there Phil.

    For all the assistants and resources it must be infinitely harder to be a successful coach (as in flags) nowadays. Almost double the teams and with the comp being so heavily regulated/manipulated and all, add to that boards often being easily triggered, impatient to see results.

    About 10 years ago I spent an hour with Allan Jeans and humbleness aside, he basically attributed his success to the zones Hawthorn had which fed them so well for so long. ‘Players!’ he answered me having asked what is the single most important ingredient to success.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    Good side Phil, but of course you have too many back pockets. That is because an awful lot of coaches learnt their craft watching the game from the back pocket. Hafey, Parkin, Sheedy, Malthouse, Tony Jewell (in the 1967 GF) and that is not a complete list.

  9. A great idea.
    Not a bad team there, LB.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for the comments folks.
    Glen ! Warney has a point about coaches I reckon. Footy is so over-coached and they still miss goals from 15 meters out. Bevo a quality nomination after helping break a 62 year drought.

    Len – I’ve heard Parkin say that getting Fitzroy into the 1986 Prelim was probably his greatest coaching achievement. A fantastic year for the Roys.

    PB – Jack Cahill got Collingwood into a Prelim in 1984, which looking back was an incredible achievement for a coach with no VFL playing or coaching experience. He was not given enough respect at the Pies. Toddy an interesting one as he got the Weagles into the finals in 1988 and came within a Murray Wrensted shank of winning a final at VFL Park. Always wondered why Farmer didn’t succeed at Geelong. I was too young to remember his coaching career in VFL. Cometti a beauty. Commentary less stressful, obviously. No love for Mal Brown?

    Dave – Jack Oatey and Fos Williams standouts in SANFL history. Neil Kerley?

    Gigs – Yep, Bevo and Paul Roos deserve spots as drought-breakers. Charlie Clymo a ripper name and a fine nomination.

    Dave – Tried to put most of those pesky back pockets on the bench. Tough to find ruckmen as coaches in this one. Where would you rank Phonse Kyne in the pantheon?

    Cheers Smokie – Tried hard to fit Denis Pagan in, but the Carlton years kinda spoiled it for him. Didn’t do Malthouse any favours either !

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice team Phil. Jock McHale surely captains this team? Still rankles that McHale wasn’t named as coach of the “Team of the Century”

    Look forward to Bucks’ inclusion when this team gets updated in a few years!

  12. Dave Nadel says

    Phonse Kyne played as a Centre Half Forward and then as a Ruckman. His second flag in 1958 was a magnificent achievement.

    You have two coaching ruckman in your 22. John Nicholls was the best ruckman of the three (not that I saw Kyne play, but I rate Nicholls and Farmer as the two greatest ruckman since 1950) but Nicholls was also the least impressive coach. I still think Barassi should get as much credit for the 1972 flag as Nicholls. If your selection criteria are based on coaching skills then you should select Kennedy and Kyne. If they are based on rucking skills then you would select Nicholls and Kyne.

  13. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Luke. What a crock that so-called ‘Team of The Century’ was. Let’s not mention G.Coventry at Full-Forward ! They hate us cos they ain’t us !

    Dave N – Phonse Kyne’s record is fairly impressive if you discount seasons 1961-63 when the club was in political disarray.
    2 Premierships 4 Runners-Up in a decade? Imagine how happy we’d be if Bucks could achieve that? 1958 outstanding effort when you consider the context of Melbourne’s dominance and the odds going into the game.

  14. Rulebook says

    Phil yep Jack Oatey,John Cahil,Fos Williams and Neil Kerley more than worthy editions.Dave spot on re Balmey and to add to the Redlegs flavour Bob Hammond dual Premiership coach and had a stint as
    Sydney caretaker coach

  15. G’day Phil, you’ve put together some damned good teams but i’m going to test you. Can you compose a team of bespectacled AFL/VFL players? I’ve thought about it as a project but not many names come to mind.

    The Essendon pair of Geoff Blethyn and Rod McFarlane, Geelongs Jimmy Wright, who didn’t always wear them and Tony Southcombe from Carlton, are the ones i can recall. After that i’m befuddled. Yourself ?


  16. DBalassone says

    I could be wrong Glen! but could David Ackerly be another bespectacled player.

    Nice team Phil – but plenty of talent to choose from. David Nadel has got me thinking: how about a team of back-pockets? In the old days didn’t the 2nd ruck get named in the back-pocket e.g. John Nicholls in the Team of the Century? So you’d have plenty of talls and smalls to choose from. It would be a tough as nails team.

  17. G’day DBalassone, i remember david Ackerly had those huge sidies, but did he wear glasses on the field ?

    I remember watching Sunshine play second division VFA in the late 1970’s and Bernie Bugden who played on their back line wore glasses. Nope, i’m struggling to think of too many more,so i’m curious about what other know re this area.


  18. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Glen ! Great idea, however I fear that contact lenses have left us with few legit contenders. Didn’t John Worsfold wear glasses when he was a Pharmacist? I do remember David Ackerly being bespectacled as a teacher.
    Damo – Your idea has merit if we weave in the resting rucks and rovers. Would be quite a few to choose from. Stan Magro my number one choice !

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