The Jehabake Legacy – 53 consecutive years

These four men created the Jehabake Legacy.


Note: The Jehabake (Je-har-bah-kee) Legacy is named from the first two letters of the names of four football greats.


Think about this. Since 1966, every premiership coach was either Allan Jeans, Tom Hafey, Ron Barassi or John Kennedy. Or a coach who played under one of those men. Or another coach who played under another coach who did.


Read the above paragraph again, then read on…


Hawthorn’s godfather, John Kennedy, was officially declared a Legend of the game on 1 June 2020. About three weeks later, Kennedy died aged 91. The AFL took too long to bestow the honour, but Kennedy was already regarded as a legend. He played 164 games for Hawthorn in a difficult era for the club, and won four best and fairest awards.


As coach, he led Hawthorn to their first three premierships in 1961, 1971 and 1976, and a losing Grand Final in 1975. He left a great legacy, a man in a gabardine coat with a voice that demanded attention.


Tom Hafey played 67 games with Richmond from 1953-58, mostly in the back pocket. At 27, he went country, leading Shepparton to three consecutive premierships. In 1966, Hafey returned to Richmond, coaching them to four premierships in 1967, 1969 and 1973-74.


Later, he coached Collingwood to five Grand Finals in six years, and was unlucky not to win a premiership. In all, he coached 11 Grand Finals, and was an inaugural inductee in the AFL Hall of Fame.


Hafey died in 2014, aged 82.


Allan Jeans played 77 games with St Kilda from 1955-59, and was appointed coach in 1961. Jeans led St Kilda to consecutive Grand Finals in 1965-66, including their first (and only) premiership against Collingwood. He also coached the Saints to Grand Final defeat in 1971 against Hawthorn.


In 1981, Jeans went to Hawthorn and won premierships in 1983, 86, and 89. Jeans also lost three Grand Finals at Hawthorn. From nine Grand Finals, he won four and lost five, and became an inaugural inductee in the AFL Hall of Fame.


Jeans died in 2011, aged 77.


Ron Barassi played 254 games with Melbourne and Carlton. Over five decades, he coached four clubs, winning four premierships from 10 Grand Finals. A tactical coach, he is known as the architect of modern football with his demands at playing on and using handball.


Barassi led Carlton to premiership glory after 21 years in the wilderness, and coached North Melbourne to their first two premierships.


Those four men, Jeans, Kennedy, Hafey and Barassi created the lineal Jehabake Legacy that is unlikely to be unsurpassed in football history. The legacy has just one survivor, Barassi, and he’s 84 and a Legend in the AFL Hall of Fame.


The Jehabake Legacy has captured 53 consecutive premierships. There are no outsiders.


A reminder: Since 1966, every premiership coach was either Jeans, Hafey, Barassi or Kennedy. Or a coach who played under one of those men. Or another coach who played under another coach who did.


Jeans started the Jehabake Legacy with a one-point win over Collingwood in the 1966 Grand Final. In 1967, Hafey coached Richmond to the premiership with a nine-point win over Geelong.


1968 belonged to Barassi, with Carlton outpointing Essendon by three points in the Grand Final. Hafey’s Richmond in turn continued the trend with a 25-point win over Carlton in 1969.


1970 had Barassi’s handball stamp all over it as Carlton overcame a 44-point half-time deficit to defeat Collingwood by 10-points. After finishing on top in 1971, Kennedy coached Hawthorn to their second premiership in a brutal seven-point win over St Kilda.


In 1972, John Nicholls (via Barassi) captain-coached Carlton to the premiership over Richmond. Hafey went back to back with Richmond in 1973 and 1974, against Carlton and North Melbourne.


Barassi took North Melbourne to its first premiership over Hawthorn in 1975. Kennedy reversed the result with Hawthorn in 1976. Barrasi worked his magic in 1977 against Collingwood, which included the drawn Grand Final.


When Kennedy quit as Hawthorn’s coach, former captain David Parkin (via Kennedy) led the Hawks to the 1978 premiership against North Melbourne. Alex Jesaulenko (via Barassi) coached Carlton to a gripping premiership win over Collingwood in 1979.


In 1980, Tony Jewell (via Hafey) led Richmond to an 81-point win over Collingwood. Parkin (via Kennedy) led Carlton to back-to-back premierships in 1981-82, against Collingwood and Richmond. In 1983, Jeans coached Hawthorn to a huge premiership win over Essendon.


Sheedy (via Hafey and Jewell) led Essendon to back-to-back flags over Hawthorn in 1984-85. Jeans won another premiership with Hawthorn in 1986 against Carlton. Robert Walls (via Barassi and Nicholls) coached Carlton to the 1987 premiership over Hawthorn.


Alan Joyce (via Kennedy) stepped in for Allan Jeans in the 1988 demolition of Melbourne. It was Jeans who regained the mantle for Hawthorn’s classic 1989 premiership win against Geelong.


Leigh Matthews (via Kennedy, Parkin and Jeans) coached Collingwood to the 1990 premiership over Essendon. In 1991, Joyce (via Kennedy) gained another premiership for Hawthorn, this time over West Coast.


Mick Malthouse (via Jeans, Hafey and Jewell) coached West Coast to their first premiership in 1992 against Geelong. Sheedy (via Hafey and Jewell) took the Baby Bombers to the 1993 flag in an upset win over Carlton.


Malthouse (via Jeans, Hafey and Jewell) had West Coast winning in an 81-point win over Geelong in 1994. Parkin (via Kennedy) overcame two seasons of heartache and oversaw Carlton’s destruction of Geelong in 1995.


In 1996, Denis Pagan (via Barassi) coached North Melbourne to the premiership over Sydney. Malcolm Blight (via Barassi) went back-to-back with Adelaide, upsetting St Kilda in 1997 and North Melbourne in 1998.


Pagan (via Barassi) got the premiership North Melbourne needed against Carlton in 1999, before Sheedy (via Hafey) took his unbreakable Essendon to the 2000 premiership over Melbourne.


By 2001, Matthews (via Kennedy, Parkin and Jeans) was in Brisbane and embarked on three consecutive premierships against Essendon and Collingwood (twice). In 2004, Mark Williams (via Hafey) took Port Adelaide to the premiership and ended Brisbane’s quest for four consecutive flags.


2005 belonged to Paul Roos (via Barassi) and Sydney, in a gripping win over West Coast. John Worsfold (via Malthouse) gained revenge on Sydney with a one-point win in the 2006 Grand Final. Mark Thompson (via Sheedy) built a brutal Geelong team who won the 2007 premiership by 119-points against Port Adelaide.


Alistair Clarkson (via Kennedy and Pagan) upset Geelong in the 2008 Grand Final. Thompson (via Sheedy) took Geelong to premiership glory in 2009, with a 12-point win over St Kilda. Malthouse (via Jeans, Hafey and Jewell) needed two Grand Finals to get Collingwood over the line against St Kilda in 2010.


Chris Scott (via Matthews) in his first year coached Geelong to the 2011 premiership, cementing that team’s legend with victory over Collingwood. John Longmire (via Kennedy and Pagan) led Sydney to an upset win against Hawthorn in the 2012 Grand Final.


Clarkson (via Kennedy and Pagan) went three in a row with Hawthorn from 2013-15 over Fremantle, Sydney and West Coast. By 2016, Luke Beveridge (via Stan Alves and Alan Joyce) upset Sydney in a remarkable Grand Final.


2017 belonged to Damien Hardwick (via Sheedy and Mark Williams) as Richmond thrashed Adelaide in an upset. Adam Simpson (via Pagan) led West Coast to the 2018 premiership. And Hardwick (via Sheedy and Williams) coached Richmond to a slaughter over GWS in 2019.


Across five seasons, 1966-71, Jeans, Barassi, Hafey and Kennedy created the Jehabake Legacy. It now involves 19 other men. That is 24 consecutive premiership winning coaches who were either Jeans, Hafey, Barassi or Kennedy. Or a coach who played under one of those men. Or another coach who played under another coach who did.


To simplify it, here’s a table of the Jehabake Legacy:


The coaches
Allan Jeans Ron Barassi Tom Hafey John Kennedy
Leigh Matthews John Nicholls Tony Jewell David Parkin
Mick Malthouse Alex Jesaulenko Kevin Sheedy Alan Joyce
Robert Walls Mick Malthouse Leigh Matthews
Denis Pagan Mark Williams* Alistair Clarkson
Malcolm Blight John Longmire
Paul Roos*
Luke Beveridge*



* Mark Williams, Paul Roos and Luke Beveridge did not play in a premiership. Of the list above, only Beveridge didn’t play in a grand final.


There are double-ups on the table, as some coaches played for different teams, or under different coaches.


To further explain, here is another table to highlight how the Jehabake Legacy lives on in premiership coaches who played under Jeans, Hafey, Barassi and Kennedy:


The coaches
Tony Jewell Kevin Sheedy Denis Pagan David Parkin Leigh Matthews Mick Malthouse John Nicholls
Mick Malthouse Mark Thompson Alistair Clarkson* Leigh Matthews Chris Scott John Worsfold Robert Walls
Damien Hardwick John Longmire
Adam Simpson


* Of the list above, only Clarkson didn’t play in a Grand Final.


The legacy and the losers


Despite their premierships, the Jehabake Four weren’t always successful. In some seasons, their teams missed the finals. They all lost Grand Finals. And they also influenced losing Grand Final coaches too…


Of the losing Grand Final coaches since 1966, only Bob Rose (Collingwood in 1966 and 1970) and Peter Pianto (Geelong 1967) have no links to the Jehabake Legacy.


To simplify, since 1966, 51 of 53 losing Grand Final coaches, including every losing coach since 1971, were either Jeans, Hafey, Barassi or Kennedy. Or a coach who played under them. Or another coach who played under another coach who did.


That makes the Jehabake Legacy, and their influence on football all the more remarkable.


The table below shows losing Grand Final coaches since 1966 and their links to the Jehabake Four:


Losing coaches
Allan Jeans Tom Hafey Ron Barassi John Kennedy
Mick Malthouse Francis Bourke* John Nicolls David Parkin
Gary Ayres* Kevin Sheedy Robert Walls Rodney Eade*
Rodney Eade* John Northey* Malcolm Blight Leigh Matthews
Leigh Matthews Mick Malthouse Stan Alves*
Mark Williams Denis Pagan
Paul Roos


* These coaches did not coach a premiership.


This table shows the next generation of losing coaches, and their links to coaches who played under the Jehabake Four.


Losing coaches
Kevin Sheedy David Parkin Mick Malthouse Denis Pagan Alan Joyce John Nicholls
Neale Daniher* Leigh Matthews John Worsfold Alistair Clarkson Leon Cameron* Robert Walls
Mark Thompson Ross Lyon* Don Pyke* John Longmire
Nathan Buckley* Adam Simpson



* These coaches did not or have not coached a premiership.


The Jehabake Legacy – a possible explanation


A legacy is handed down through generations, providing pathways for the future, a guideline or instructions for others to follow.


Collectively, Jeans, Hafey, Barassi and Kennedy coached 2,024 games for 34 Grand Finals and 16 premierships. They were hard, uncompromising men who set their culture by demanding perfection and performance. Fitness, skill, courage and the determination to win. Berating and belittling. Encouraging and sympathetic. Creating tactics based on their players.


Passing on lessons they learned, and creating their own football lessons. No different to any other coach in the history of the game.


Clearly, the Jehabake Four did more than teach men how to play football. They possessed something other coaches didn’t have.


The power of influence.


Influencing players and clubs. Implanting lessons, nurturing skill, mentoring and fostering leadership. Creating lessons that influenced new generations of coaches.


Consider this. John Kennedy is rightly remembered as a Hawthorn legend. He also coached North Melbourne from 1985-1989, taking them to three finals, for one win. A modest record, perhaps.


Think about the future.


Ten players from North Melbourne’s 1996 and 1999 premiership teams were coached by Kennedy in the eighties. That’s positive influence at Arden Street, long after Kennedy was gone.


The Jehabake Legacy has influenced football since 1966. Aside from Bob Rose and Peter Pianto, no other coach has had a chance. The legacy is a caution for clubs looking to appoint a new coach. Trace the legacy. Discard those without links.


Remarkably, every current AFL coach is linked to the Jehabake Four. Only Brisbane’s Chris Fagan didn’t play VFL/AFL football. He played his entire career in Tasmania, where he was coached by dual Richmond premiership player Paul Sproule (via Hafey) at Hobart and at Sandy Bay.


It doesn’t matter who wins the 2020 premiership. The Jehabake Legacy will live on…


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About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. An epic compilation, Matt! Something along the lines of ‘never has so much been owed by so many to so few’.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Very well played Matt. It looks like the Crows knew what they were doing with Nicks after all.

  3. Brilliant research Matt. Is it now possible for a coach not to have fallen under the influence of a Jehabake coached coach?
    David Teague has a Barassi link via Pagan.
    Justin Longmuir has a Barassi link via Damian Drum/Blight; and Kennedy/Jeans via Ben Allan.
    Rhyce Shaw has a Hafey/Jeans link via Malthouse.
    Matthew Nicks has a Kennedy/Jeans link via Eade and Barassi via Roos.
    The interesting one is Chris Fagan at Brisbane who had a 283 game playing career with 3 clubs in Tasmania. But he has a Hafey link via playing under former Richmond Player in the 1980 flag at Hobart and then later at Sandy Bay.
    The Jehabake will triumph again in 2020.

  4. What a great read! Success creates success but this is even more noticeable. Team football departments should take note for future coaching appointments.

  5. Carlton beat Essendon for the 1968 flag

    (Right you are Kangaeroo – it has been fixed now to reflect the actual result! Ed.)

  6. matt watson says

    Thanks Kangaeroo,
    I’m disappointed I got it wrong…
    Thanks to Ed too!!
    I knew if there was an error a reader would find it!
    Cheers to all.

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