|John Kennedy Sr.|
Kennedy Sr. pictured for a series of
collectible cards in the 1950s
|Full name||John Kennedy Sr.|
|Date of birth||29 December 1928|
|Date of death||25 June 2020(aged 91)|
|Height||188 cm (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||89 kg (196 lb)|
|1985–1989||North Melbourne||113 (55–55–3)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1959.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 1989.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
John Kennedy Sr. (29 December 1928 – 25 June 2020) was an Australian rules footballer who played for the Hawthorn Football Club and coached Hawthorn and the North Melbourne Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL). He coached Hawthorn to premierships in 1961, 1971 and 1976.
Kennedy was born in Camberwell, Victoria, on 29 December 1928. In 1950, he joined the Hawthorn Football Club as a ruckman. Over the next ten years, he played 164 games for Hawthorn, serving as captain from 1955 until his retirement in 1959, and winning the club's Best and Fairest award four times (in 1950–1952, and 1954) respectively.
For the 1960 season he took over permanently as Hawthorn coach, and led the team to their first premiership in 1961. Following a Grand Final defeat to Geelong in 1963, he was forced to step down as coach when the Victorian Education Department offered him a job as a school principal in Stawell. Hawthorn's poor on-field performance over the next few years saw him recalled to the role in 1967. He coached Hawthorn to premierships in 1971 and 1976, as well as a Grand Final loss in 1975. He stepped down as coach again in 1976, in all coaching Hawthorn to three premierships from five Grand Finals.
In 1985, Kennedy became the coach of the North Melbourne Football Club, and coached the club until 1989; his best result with North Melbourne was fourth in 1985. In total he coached for 411 games, winning 236, losing 170 and drawing five.
As a player, Kennedy was renowned for his toughness and skill. As a coach, he had a similar reputation for toughness, but also for oratory. He was notorious for borrowing ideas from any source he thought would inspire the players, but it was his passion rather than his quotations that he was best known for. In the 1975 VFL Grand Final against North Melbourne, his exhortation to the Hawthorn players at half time was: "At least DO SOMETHING! DO! Don't think, don't hope, do! At least you can come off and say 'I did this, I shepherded, I played on. At least I did something.'" Despite this, his team still lost convincingly.
He was famous for his battered brown overcoat, which is now on display at the Hawthorn Football Club.
His son John Kennedy Jr., also played for the Hawks, playing eight matches against Kangaroo teams coached by his father. Kennedy's grandson Josh Kennedy was recruited by Hawthorn under the father/son rule in the 2006 AFL Draft, but played most of his career with the Sydney Swans.
On 1 June 2020, John Kennedy Sr. became the 29th legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame. AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder said: "In the Australian Football Hall of Fame, our Legends stand above our greats and, on behalf of the selectors, it is my great honour to declare John Kennedy was elected as a Legend, recognising his six-decade contribution to our game."
In honour of Kennedy's 80th birthday, a statue of him overlooking the Hawthorns' Waverley Park stadium was unveiled. The text on the plaque reads
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