Former Hawthorn coach John Kennedy. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Former Hawthorn coach John Kennedy. Picture: Tim Carrafa

AFL mourns death of a true legend

HAWTHORN great and official Australian Football Hall of Fame legend John Kennedy Snr has died, aged 91.

The Hawks released a statement confirming the news on behalf of the Kennedy family, saying the club father figure had passed away peacefully on Thursday morning.

"He was a man of extraordinary humility and strong family values and his legacy will live on, always," the statement read.

Kennedy was elevated to legend status by the Australian Football Hall of Fame earlier this month, becoming the 29th person honoured.

Commiserating with Lance Franklin in 2012. Picture: Wayne Ludbey
Commiserating with Lance Franklin in 2012. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

He joined the Hawks as a ruckman in 1950 and won the best and fairest in his first season.

He backed up that effort in 1951, 1952 and 1954 before retiring in 1959 after 164 games.

He was captain for his last five seasons and led the Hawks to their first finals appearance in 1957 - 32 years after they entered the VFL.

He immediately became coach in 1960 and over two stints in the role won three premierships in 1961, 1971 and 1976.

The Kennedy name continues in the competition to this day. Kennedy's son John Jr was a four-time flagwinner with the Hawks and his grandson Josh, who debuted for Hawthorn in 2008 before moving to Sydney in 2010, is in his 13th season.

Sending a message alongside player Alan Martello in 1975.
Sending a message alongside player Alan Martello in 1975.

"John is a modest man of great character who has positively enhanced the lives of thousands who have been lucky enough to cross his path," David Parkin, who took over as Hawks coach following Kennedy's departure in 1976, said on his elevation to legend status in the game.

"His most famous quote of 'Don't think, do', probably best sums up the man. He commanded respect, taught us how to overcome the fear of failure and asked nothing of us that he wouldn't do himself."

"John's impact on the Hawthorn Football Club will be eternal and his legacy will always live on at Hawthorn," current president Jeff Kennett said on Thursday.

"So much of what Hawthorn is today, is because of the foundations John laid in yesteryears. His booming voice will forever echo in the corridors of the football club and the legend of the man in the brown overcoat, with a heart of gold, will be passed down from generation to generation of the Hawthorn family."

JOHN KENNEDY SNR

Born: December 29, 1928

Recruited: East Camberwell YCW FC

Played: 1950-59 Games: 164 Goals: 29

Guernsey: 10 Captain: 1955-59

Best & Fairest: 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954

3rd Best & Fairest: 1957, 1958, 1959

Coach: 1960-1963, 1967-1976 (299 games)

Premierships: 1961, 1971, 1976

Night Premierships: 1968, 1969

State Captain: 1957 State Representative: 4

State Coach: 1973

VFL/AFL Life Member: 1979

AFL Hall of Fame: 1996 (Coach),

AFL Hall of Fame - Legend: 2020

AFL Commissioner: 1993-1997

Kennedy hands the premiership cup to Alastair Clarkson in 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Kennedy hands the premiership cup to Alastair Clarkson in 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

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