John Kennedy Snr
29 December 1928
24 June 2020 (aged 91)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 21y 114d
Last game: 30y 243d
Height and weight
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 89 kg
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By no means the most elegant or naturally skilled of footballers, John Kennedy nevertheless possessed considerable football nous, and he applied this to excellent effect as both player and coach at Hawthorn between 1950 and 1976.
Kennedy joined Hawthorn from Teacher's College in 1950, and made an immediate impact, winning a best and fairest award in his debut season, the first of four which he was to procure during his 10-season, 164-game VFL career. A tremendously team-orientated player, Kennedy represented the VFL, and was Hawthorn captain for his last five league seasons.
In 1960, having retired as a player, Kennedy was appointed coach of Hawthorn, and within a short space of time a legend was born. Under Kennedy's almost fanatical tutelage the Hawks became the league's toughest and fittest club, with the players becoming known colloquially as 'Kennedy's Commandos'. By 1961, Kennedy's second season, the Hawks had the measure of every other club in the competition, and won a first ever senior flag with a comfortable 13.16 (94) to 7.9 (51) Grand Final defeat of Footscray.
Between 1964 and 1966 Kennedy coached Wimmera Football League club Stawell, guiding his team to a losing Grand Final in 1966. He returned as coach of Hawthorn in 1967, and with no dilution either to his principles or his coaching methods, soon had the Hawks firing again. Hawthorn won further premierships under John Kennedy's guidance in 1971 and 1976, with Kennedy retiring after the latter Grand Final.
Almost a decade later, in 1985, Kennedy was lured out of retirement by North Melbourne where, despite not managing to mastermind any further premierships, he did nothing to sully his reputation as one of post-war football's most effective and revolutionary coaches. That reputation was emphasised when John Kennedy senior was selected as non-playing coach of Hawthorn's official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.
Author - John Devaney