Top 10 coaches in the history of the game?

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PowerfulPies2023

Club Legend
Oct 5, 2023
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Collingwood
During my time there have been some absolute rippers. If I had to pick, this would be my list.

Kevin Sheedy
Mick Malthouse
David Parkin
Alistair Clarkson
Craig McRae
Damian Hardwick
Chris Scott
Malcom Blight
Bomber Thompson
Dennis Pagan

Lethal Leigh Matthews.

I remembered perhaps the best for last. Perhaps.

Chris Scott has to be there. To endure all that criticism and all those agonising defeats and near misses, the mans made of steel. A rock.

Who are your top 10?
 
Damien Hardwick is overrated.
Nene Leakes GIF
 
Sneaking Craig McRae in there already? Lol.
 

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During my time there have been some absolute rippers. If I had to pick, this would be my list.

Kevin Sheedy
Mick Malthouse
David Parkin
Alistair Clarkson
Craig McRae
Damian Hardwick
Chris Scott
Malcom Blight
Bomber Thompson
Dennis Pagan

Lethal Leigh Matthews.

I remembered perhaps the best for last. Perhaps.

Chris Scott has to be there. To endure all that criticism and all those agonising defeats and near misses, the mans made of steel. A rock.

Who are your top 10?

What near misses did Chris Scott endure? Getting your arse handed to you in finals year after year by Hardwick does not qualify as a near miss. 2 flags is a more than ample return for that campaigner. :tearsofjoy:

In my lifetime(born 66):

Ron Barassi - multiple flags at multiple clubs, Jack Worrall(1906-07-08 Carlton, 1911-12 Essendon) the only other person to achieve this I think.
Tom Hafey
Alan Jeans
David Parkin
John Kennedy Snr
Kevin Sheedy(calls himself Seven Sheedy after 3 flags as a player and 4 as a coach)
Mick Malthouse
Leigh Matthews
Damien Hardwick
Paul Roos

EDIT: Woops, forgot Alistair Clarkson, unquestionably into the top 10 for the Rooster.

would be the best imo.

Plenty of other very good ones. Blight, Walls, C Scott, Lyon, Beveridge, Pagan, Longmire, Mark Williams to name a few.

Before my time:

Norm Smith - possibly the best of them all, not bad for a man named after the grand Final BOG medal.
Len Smith - apparently brilliant coach only coached very weak lists
Dick Reynolds - like Barassi, Matthews all time great player AND coach.
Syd Barker - amazing feat to go from VFA to captain-coaching Bombers to b2b flags
Perc Bentley - flags at 2 clubs
Frank "Checker" Hughes
Jock McHale - has to be right up there
Dan Minogue - c-c'd Tigers to breakthrough flags b2b 1920-21, team was no great shakes before he arrived.
Carlton pair Alex Jesaulenko and John Nicholls - deserve a mention for captain-coaching flags as late as the 1970's.
Jack Worrall - Carlton's 3 b2b2b flags around 1907 were coached by him, and he was considered the father of coaching, being the first person to coach a VFL team. Buttered up with b2b Bomber flags in 1911-12.

And mention must also be made of the half coaches. Henry Elms and Herb Howson, who jointly coached South Melbourne to the 1918 flag, and a 27-6 overall record, before the experiment was abandoned forever by all league clubs never to be tried again. No doubt to save money on coaches. :tearsofjoy:

Also don't forget or under-estimate the coach who did not even exist. Fitzroy's first 4 of their 8 Premierships were achieved without a coach at all. In fact no team had a coach until Jack Worrall started coaching Carlton in 1902, and it was not until some years later before all teams adopted the role.

For all that, my favourite premiership coach name in history: well there are a small handful. Brighton Diggins. Charlie Clymo. Vic Belcher. Percy Paratt. Lardie Tulloch. Tod Collins. Phonse Kyne. Large handful really but Lardie and Tod were captains who led their teams to flags much like a cricket captain would lead his team.
 
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How the hell did you miss Kennedy? He was given the team with the worst history in Australian competitive sport, an utter joke since it's inception, and turned them into an V-AFL powerhouse that won 3 flags, but set up a culture to start winning flags at a rate of about 1 every 4 years.

Nobody comes close.

Nice mcrae joke though. Did laugh.
 
What near misses did Chris Scott endure? Getting your arse handed to you in finals year after year by Hardwick does not qualify as a near miss. 2 flags is a more than ample return for that campaigner. :tearsofjoy:

In my lifetime(born 66):

Ron Barassi - multiple flags at multiple clubs, Jack Worrall(1906-07-08 Carlton, 1911-12 Essendon) the only other person to achieve this I think.
Tom Hafey
Alan Jeans
David Parkin
John Kennedy Snr
Kevin Sheedy(calls himself Seven Sheedy after 3 flags as a player and 4 as a coach)
Mick Malthouse
Leigh Matthews
Damien Hardwick
Paul Roos

would be the best imo.

Plenty of other very good ones. Blight, Walls, C Scott, Lyon, Beveridge, Pagan, Longmire, Mark Williams to name a few.

Before my time:

Norm Smith - possibly the best of them all, not bad for a man named after the grand Final BOG medal.
Len Smith - apparently brilliant coach only coached very weak lists
Dick Reynolds - like Barassi, Matthews all time great player AND coach.
Syd Barker - amazing feat to go from VFA to captain-coaching Bombers to b2b flags
Perc Bentley - flags at 2 clubs
Frank "Checker" Hughes
Jock McHale - has to be right up there
Dan Minogue - c-c'd Tigers to breakthrough flags b2b 1920-21, team was no great shakes before he arrived.
Carlton pair Alex Jesaulenko and John Nicholls - deserve a mention for captain-coaching flags as late as the 1970's.
Jack Worrall - Carlton's 3 b2b2b flags around 1907 were coached by him, and he was considered the father of coaching, being the first person to coach a VFL team. Buttered up with b2b Bomber flags in 1911-12.

And mention must also be made of the half coaches. Henry Elms and Herb Howson, who jointly coached South Melbourne to the 1918 flag, and a 27-6 overall record, before the experiment was abandoned forever by all league clubs never to be tried again. No doubt to save money on coaches. :tearsofjoy:

Also don't forget or under-estimate the coach who did not even exist. Fitzroy's first 4 of their 8 Premierships were achieved without a coach at all. In fact no team had a coach until Jack Worrall started coaching Carlton in 1902, and it was not until some years later before all teams adopted the role.

For all that, my favourite premiership coach name in history: well there are a small handful. Brighton Diggins. Charlie Clymo. Vic Belcher. Percy Paratt. Lardie Tulloch. Tod Collins. Phonse Kyne. Large handful really but Lardie and Tod were captains who led their teams to flags much like a cricket captain would lead his team.
Clarkson an intentional omission?
 
This is a very interesting question.

I wonder whether any recent/modern day coaches make the top 10?

The obvious greats are:
Jock Mchale - 8 Premierships.
Norm Smith - 6 Premierships.
Ron Barassi - 4 Premierships.
John Kennedy Snr - 3 Premierships.
Allan Jeans - 4 Premierships.
Jack Worrall - 5 Premierships.
Dick Reynolds - 4 Premierships.
Tom Hafey - 4 Premierships (and many losing Grand Finals...)
David Parkin - 4 Premierships.
Checker Hughes - 5 Premierships.
Kevin Sheedy - 4 Premierships.
Leigh Matthews - 4 Premierships.
Michael Malthouse - 3 Premierships and Coaching Games Record.
Alastair Clarkson - 4 Premierships.
Damien Hardwick - 3 Premierships.

Clarkson and Hardwick have more chapters to write at North and Gold Coast respectively.

Craig McRae an interesting watch, inheriting a 17th placed team and steering them to a 74.5% win ratio in his first two seasons, including a premiership.
 
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This is a very interesting question.

I wonder whether any recent/modern day coaches make the top 10?

The obvious greats are:
Jock Mchale - 8 Premierships.
Norm Smith - 6 Premierships.
Ron Barassi - 4 Premierships.
John Kennedy Snr - 3 Premierships.
Allan Jeans - 4 Premierships.
Jack Worrall - 5 Premierships.
Dick Reynolds - 4 Premierships.
Tom Hafey - 4 Premierships (and many losing Grand Finals...)
David Parkin - 4 Premierships.
Checker Hughes - 5 Premierships.
Kevin Sheedy - 4 Premierships.
Leigh Matthews - 4 Premierships.
Michael Malthouse - 3 Premierships and Coaching Games Record.
Alastair Clarkson - 4 Premierships.
Damien Hardwick - 3 Premierships.

Clarkson and Hardwick have more chapters to write at North and Gold Coast respectively.

Craig McRae an interesting watch, inheriting a 17th placed team and steering them to a 74.5% win ratio in his first two seasons, including a premiership.

McRae technically inherited a 17th placed team but in reality he inherited a finals team who had one shocking season.
 
Norm Smith was an extraordinary Coach. RDB aside there were few champions in those wonderful Demon teams.

Norm loved his time at South and getting a less Than average South side into the 1970 finals was an amazing achievement which I know gave him a lot of pleasure.

Despite 4 Premierships Sheedy burnt opportunities with some amazing lists. Should not feature in a list of great Dons’ coaches let alone across the vfl/afl.
 
I will give this a go and rank the top 10 coaches who were coaching from my time of following the footy. Several variables may be used to rank in order the top 10 but my list places more weight on the number of premierships won as they are hard to win and then premierships won at more than 1 club.

1. Ron Barassi
Multiple flags at multiple clubs.
4 flags - Carl 1968, 70. NM 1975, 77.
4 runners up - Carl 1969. NM 1974, 76, 78.
Laid a good foundation at Melbourne and Sydney for future finals contention.

2. Allan Jeans
4 flags- St Kil 1966. Haw 1983, 86, 89.
5 runners up- StKil 1965, 71. Haw 1984, 85, 87.

3. David Parkin
4 flags- Haw 1978. Carl 1981, 82, 95.
2 runners up- Carl 1993, 99.
Coached Fitzroy to a prelim in 1986, the Roy’s highest finish since the 1960 prelim.

4. Leigh Matthews
4 flags- Coll 1990. Bris 2001, 02, 03.
1 runners up- Bris 2004.

5. Tom Hafey
4 flags- Rich 1967, 69, 73, 74.
5 runners up- Rich 1972. Coll 1977, 79, 80, 81.
Coached Sydney to 2 finals series in 1986 & 1987.

6. Kevin Sheedy
4 flags- Ess 1984, 85, 93, 00.
3 runners up- 1983, 90, 01.

7. Alastair Clarkson
4 flags- Haw 2008, 13, 14, 15.
1 runners up- 2012.

8. Mick Malthouse
3 flags- WCE 1992, 94. Coll 2010.
4 runners up- WCE 1991. Coll 2002, 03, 11.
Coached Footscray to a prelim in 1985, the dogs first finals series since 1976 and the highest finish for the dogs since 1961.

9. John Kennedy
3 flags- Haw 1961, 71, 76.
2 runners up- Haw 1963, 75.
Coached North to 2 finals series in 1985 & 1987.

10. Damien Hardwick
3 flags at tigerland.
 
I will give this a go and rank the top 10 coaches who were coaching from my time of following the footy. Several variables may be used to rank in order the top 10 but my list places more weight on the number of premierships won as they are hard to win and then premierships won at more than 1 club.

1. Ron Barassi
Multiple flags at multiple clubs.
4 flags - Carl 1968, 70. NM 1975, 77.
4 runners up - Carl 1969. NM 1974, 76, 78.
Laid a good foundation at Melbourne and Sydney for future finals contention.

2. Allan Jeans
4 flags- St Kil 1966. Haw 1983, 86, 89.
5 runners up- StKil 1965, 71. Haw 1984, 85, 87.

3. David Parkin
4 flags- Haw 1978. Carl 1981, 82, 95.
2 runners up- Carl 1993, 99.
Coached Fitzroy to a prelim in 1986, the Roy’s highest finish since the 1960 prelim.

4. Leigh Matthews
4 flags- Coll 1990. Bris 2001, 02, 03.
1 runners up- Bris 2004.

5. Tom Hafey
4 flags- Rich 1967, 69, 73, 74.
5 runners up- Rich 1972. Coll 1977, 79, 80, 81.
Coached Sydney to 2 finals series in 1986 & 1987.

6. Kevin Sheedy
4 flags- Ess 1984, 85, 93, 00.
3 runners up- 1983, 90, 01.

7. Alastair Clarkson
4 flags- Haw 2008, 13, 14, 15.
1 runners up- 2012.

8. Mick Malthouse
3 flags- WCE 1992, 94. Coll 2010.
4 runners up- WCE 1991. Coll 2002, 03, 11.
Coached Footscray to a prelim in 1985, the dogs first finals series since 1976 and the highest finish for the dogs since 1961.

9. John Kennedy
3 flags- Haw 1961, 71, 76.
2 runners up- Haw 1963, 75.
Coached North to 2 finals series in 1985 & 1987.

10. Damien Hardwick
3 flags at tigerland.
You forget to mention Mick Malthouse's stint at Carlton?
 
I will give this a go and rank the top 10 coaches who were coaching from my time of following the footy. Several variables may be used to rank in order the top 10 but my list places more weight on the number of premierships won as they are hard to win and then premierships won at more than 1 club.

1. Ron Barassi
Multiple flags at multiple clubs.
4 flags - Carl 1968, 70. NM 1975, 77.
4 runners up - Carl 1969. NM 1974, 76, 78.
Laid a good foundation at Melbourne and Sydney for future finals contention.

2. Allan Jeans
4 flags- St Kil 1966. Haw 1983, 86, 89.
5 runners up- StKil 1965, 71. Haw 1984, 85, 87.

3. David Parkin
4 flags- Haw 1978. Carl 1981, 82, 95.
2 runners up- Carl 1993, 99.
Coached Fitzroy to a prelim in 1986, the Roy’s highest finish since the 1960 prelim.

4. Leigh Matthews
4 flags- Coll 1990. Bris 2001, 02, 03.
1 runners up- Bris 2004.

5. Tom Hafey
4 flags- Rich 1967, 69, 73, 74.
5 runners up- Rich 1972. Coll 1977, 79, 80, 81.
Coached Sydney to 2 finals series in 1986 & 1987.

6. Kevin Sheedy
4 flags- Ess 1984, 85, 93, 00.
3 runners up- 1983, 90, 01.

7. Alastair Clarkson
4 flags- Haw 2008, 13, 14, 15.
1 runners up- 2012.

8. Mick Malthouse
3 flags- WCE 1992, 94. Coll 2010.
4 runners up- WCE 1991. Coll 2002, 03, 11.
Coached Footscray to a prelim in 1985, the dogs first finals series since 1976 and the highest finish for the dogs since 1961.

9. John Kennedy
3 flags- Haw 1961, 71, 76.
2 runners up- Haw 1963, 75.
Coached North to 2 finals series in 1985 & 1987.

10. Damien Hardwick
3 flags at tigerland.
No Jock McHale? He has the most premierships (8) as coach to his name. Granted those premierships came from 40 odd years of coaching, but winning a premiership 1 in 5 years on average is a very good record.

Edit: sorry. Just seen you mention "from my time".
 
I will give this a go and rank the top 10 coaches who were coaching from my time of following the footy. Several variables may be used to rank in order the top 10 but my list places more weight on the number of premierships won as they are hard to win and then premierships won at more than 1 club.

1. Ron Barassi
Multiple flags at multiple clubs.
4 flags - Carl 1968, 70. NM 1975, 77.
4 runners up - Carl 1969. NM 1974, 76, 78.
Laid a good foundation at Melbourne and Sydney for future finals contention.

2. Allan Jeans
4 flags- St Kil 1966. Haw 1983, 86, 89.
5 runners up- StKil 1965, 71. Haw 1984, 85, 87.

3. David Parkin
4 flags- Haw 1978. Carl 1981, 82, 95.
2 runners up- Carl 1993, 99.
Coached Fitzroy to a prelim in 1986, the Roy’s highest finish since the 1960 prelim.

4. Leigh Matthews
4 flags- Coll 1990. Bris 2001, 02, 03.
1 runners up- Bris 2004.

5. Tom Hafey
4 flags- Rich 1967, 69, 73, 74.
5 runners up- Rich 1972. Coll 1977, 79, 80, 81.
Coached Sydney to 2 finals series in 1986 & 1987.

6. Kevin Sheedy
4 flags- Ess 1984, 85, 93, 00.
3 runners up- 1983, 90, 01.

7. Alastair Clarkson
4 flags- Haw 2008, 13, 14, 15.
1 runners up- 2012.

8. Mick Malthouse
3 flags- WCE 1992, 94. Coll 2010.
4 runners up- WCE 1991. Coll 2002, 03, 11.
Coached Footscray to a prelim in 1985, the dogs first finals series since 1976 and the highest finish for the dogs since 1961.

9. John Kennedy
3 flags- Haw 1961, 71, 76.
2 runners up- Haw 1963, 75.
Coached North to 2 finals series in 1985 & 1987.

10. Damien Hardwick
3 flags at tigerland.

Getting a leg-up doesn't win you a flag of course, but it is advantageous. These are the advantages some of those coaches had:

- Barassi carlton nil, North exploited the short-lived 10 year rule ruthlessly.
- Jeans at Hawks inherited a lot of previous Premiership players.
- Parkin at both Hawks and Carlton both times was the same, always inherited premiership players
- Matthews at Brisbane got the benefit of the Fitzroy "merger" - unsure if Lions got other concessions
- Clarkson got a slight benefit I would say from priority picks, which were a scam for certain clubs
- Malthouse got to coach the WA state side in the AFL. Also benefitted from the priority pick scam.

I don't think any of Hafey, Sheedy, Kennedy or Hardwick got much in the way of a leg up.

It must be said Barassi, Jeans, Matthews coached big drought breaking flags with no real advantages, and Parkin coached very effectively at Fitzroy which was no mean feat, as did Malthouse at Bulldogs and ditto.

Every one of these coaches has unequivocally proven themselves a great coach in my eyes. Just some may have slightly inflated records due to certain advantages they were given.
 

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