Remembering Allan Jeans

Allan Jeans was a terrific character. He had some great lines not the least of which was that Gary Ayres was “a good driver in heavy traffic”.

A natural leader, he influenced many lives, young and old, footballers and others.

Tell us your Yabby story:


  1. Damo Balassone says

    Dermie has always said that the half-time speech by Yabby in the ’89 Grand Final about ‘paying the price’ was the most inspirational he had ever heard.

  2. Mark Doyle says

    A great Melbourne aussie rules football coach – about 15 years at St. Kilda and 10 years at Hawthorn for a total of 9 grand finals and 4 premierships.

    I am not sure whether he was a natural leader or whether he had that much influence on peoples lives, apart from his family and players that he coached.

  3. He lead the Saints to their first flag
    He always seemed quite crabby
    He often talked of sausages
    We’ll miss him, good old Yabby

  4. As a matter of interest, does anyone know how he got the name “Yabby”?

  5. Chalkdog says

    hi Gigs
    Heard on 1116 that his older brother was known as Lobby [as in Lobster as he had red hair]. Along came the younger brother so he was called Yabby [as in little Lobster]. This may need verification in true Wikipedia fashion ….but it rings true to me

  6. Thanks, Chalk. I like it.

  7. Thanks Sasha. Your story says something profound about the man. That he stood up for what he thought was right, not what would be popular.
    The 1966 Grand Final was the first VFL game I listened to in full with my Dad on 3WV from our house in Renmark in country SA. So I guess I have him to thanks for 35 years of ill fated support for St Kilda prior to coming to WA.
    I think of Jeans along with Barassi and Kennedy as being the bridging coaches who began footy’s journey from the workingman’s art to the modern science.
    Phonse Kyne, Checker Hughes, Bob Rose, Norm Smith were the traditional school of ‘hard men’ who made you ‘bleed for the jumper’. Jeans, Barassi (with handball) and Kennedy (with fitness) started to think outside the square and look for innovative ways to gain an edge.
    Sheedy, Parkin, Malthouse etal extended that to coaching as a form of management science with delegation, planning and borrowing ideas from other sports and walks of life.
    Yabby had the courage and foresight to start that journey of blending the old with the new.
    He must have been a great man in so many ways.

  8. “Paying the price” is one of the great stories of modern football! i’ve just posted reference to this on (borrowing it from a great article by Ken Piesse on Back Page Lead). For reference, the story goes like this:

    “A no-nonsense, ex-policeman with superb oratory skills, Jeans’ speech at half-time of the ‘89 Grand Final remains the most famous of all. So worked up was he that doctors feared it might lead to another aneurysm.

    At the main break, with Hawthorn well ahead in that epic play off, Jeans said there were more in the medical room with the club doctor than in the main room. “We might have had a good lead but so many of them were hurting. You could just see it in their eyes,” he recounted. John Platten was concussed and out of it, Dermott Brereton was bleeding from the kidney having been cleaned up at the opening bounce and Robert DiPierdomenico had had his lung punctured, courtesy of a charging Gary Ablett.

    Inspired, Jeans told the story of a little boy going into a shop to buy a new pair of shoes and how he settled on the very first cheap pair he saw. Within hours he was regretting not paying a higher price for a better pair of shoes. Looking each of his players in the eye, and pointing his finger in their faces, Jeans went to each in turn, and, raising his voice to a crescendo, questioned: “Are you prepared to pay the price? Today? Now?”

    Hawthorn had never won two premierships in a row and Jeans was as emotional as he’d ever been, including after the ’66 fairytale flag with St Kilda. The atmosphere in the rooms was electric as Jeans kept demanding, “Pay the price… You must pay the price.”

    Players ran back down the race with tears streaming down their faces. Gary Ayres said Hawthorn was never going to lose after Jeans’ speech of a lifetime.”

    With a super-charged Ablett kicking nine goals, fast-finishing Geelong came within six points of the Hawks. At the last centre bounce, with less than a minute to go, Gary Buckenara said to Chris Wittman that they had to win that contest, no matter what, or Geelong would surely surge again. They did, and Hawthorn was able to hold on for a last-gasp flag, the most famous in modern annals.”

    Poetic licence (aka Big Footy) has it that “during the game players were heard muttering to themselves or nearby team mates,”Pay the price, just pay the price”.

  9. Matt Zurbo says

    Just heard/saw the news. What a loss.
    “Do not accept the situation!”
    “You’ll step up or step down.”
    The list is endless. Such a great coach, because he seemed a great man first. Because, as their core, each one of his messages were about not just football, but character. About life.

  10. Joseph Walker says

    I think Allan Jeans could connect football with life. When coaching, he might start out by talking about life but then move on to footy, because footy is played 80 percent above the shoulders.
    In some unusual ways (the sausages)- he was a great coach. No doubt about it. But in no unusual way at all- he was a great, great man.

  11. Rick Kane says

    Growing up in Perth the main access we had to the VFL was through the TV show, The Winners. The enduring image I have of VFL footy through the 80s is Hawthorn surging down the ground as if one. It looked electrifying and terrifying and I was watching it on telly. I can only imagine what it must have been like for opposition players and teams.

    Hawthorn is currently conducting a competition for members where you have to nominate the Ultimate Hawks Premiership Team. It is part of the club’s 5 Decades of Flags celebrations. When I completed my team only three members made the team without a blink of the eye. Leigh Matthews, Luke Hodge and Allan Jeans as Coach. That’s how vivid the image of that 80s team roaring down the field to goal is for me.

    Vale Yabby

  12. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    After the Saints and before he went to Hawthorn Allan Jeans coached NSW in the national pre-season comp. Almost beat Fitzroy in Sydney when fat full-forward Laurie Pendrick booted 6 goals on then State full-back Harvey Merrigan. He could get teams up.

    Against the ACT at 3/4 time at North Wagga he gave Wayne Carroll the best spray I have ever heard a coach give. Christmas at the time was a high flying forward for Mangolplah-Cookardina United. He was playing in defence this day – Jeans told him in no uncertain terms to “Stop lairising!:

    At a recent Aussie Embassy function here in Abu Dhabi Haje & I were having a great chat with Kelvin Templeton who was in a rare expansive mood. He told us that Jeans was the best coach he ever played under – in State games.

  13. Alovesupreme says

    I’d love some-body with a more detailed recollection than mine to provide the details of an escapade by players on an end-of season trip in the US (LA iirc).
    Apparently a couple of players were larking about and although innocent, came under suspicion of shop-lifting. Jason Dunstall was one of those involved. Yabby’s police credentials were sufficient for him to be trotted out by the Hawks in charge on the trip when LA’s finest were called, and he was reputed to have said “don’t shoot the fat guy”.
    I wanted to throw this one in as an example of his well-developed sense of humour, without in any sense gainsaying his inspiration as a coach, and outstanding commitment to all that is good about football.

  14. Re the nick name Yabby i was of the opinion it came from a having a dip in the Murray with his elder brother in their younger years. The brother came out of the water and friends said he was as red as a lobster, and Alan being the younger of the pair earned the sobriquet of ‘Yabby’, smaller than a lobster. Good story, hope it’s true.

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