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If John Kennedy were a Coach in 2018...

Throughout the history of human kind, certain individuals stand out from the crowd; they stand as great leaders who left grand legacies. Generally they were not great leaders because they were good people, or exceedingly intelligent; they had one overarching skill that made them great. They had an ability to motivate people with words.

Churchill fighting them on the beaches, JFK asking not what your country can do for you, Reagan asking for the wall to be torn down. These types of speeches, gave hope in despair, boosted characters of men, inspired bravery, gave courage, and ultimately changed the course of history.

Likewise throughout the history of Football similar icons stand out from the rest, Swashbuckling Barassi barking orders, Salt of the earth Hafey calling for the back pocket plumber, Sheedy or Parkin using their obscure words of wisdom or bulging jugulars to raise their troops but one famous footy speech towers above all others, the don’t think, do speech by John Kennedy Snr.

Don't think, Do.

Sentiments that might have worked in 1975 but would they wash today? Today it’s more likely to sound like don't think, don't do, don't act, just play your role...

It would appear coaching today is far more programmed into roles and structure, you can’t get emotional or else your message gets muddled and lost in translation to the simplified millennial mind. But isn't emotion, if harnessed, the x-factor that can take you over the edge, to go the extra yard? Isn’t it the final ingredient that can turn a player from good to great?

It would seem in times past the art of man motivation would focus on inspiring individuals to become team-oriented. Now they focus on inspiring teams to work as a single unit individual.

We must never let the art of inspiring men become a forgotten skill, a lost relic in a room full of computers, GPS trackers and ipads. Where once stood a magnet board and man talking, now huddles a group on plastic Bunnings chairs around an ipad watching dots navigate a green oval. Am I now inspired to be a better dot? 

In a comp so even, if you motivate your troops, you may gain 5% on top of the other teams who are running their structures. That 5% that may take you from thereabouts to the pinnacle.

Don’t think, Do.

Clear and concise. Let’s see how the famous speech would look seasonally adjusted to fit today’s footy world.


What a pathetic performance. Half the game over. We’ve been thrashed ... One thing is to be beaten, another thing is to be beaten the way you blokes have been beaten.

Boys, Our key indicators show we were lacking in certain key criteria in the first half. We have been comprehensively outpointed in every key statistic. It’s one thing to be outpointed, but we have not been allowed to play our brand, to get the game on our terms.

Now look, one bloke went out on the flank and battled against three, and I don’t know what in the name of fortune you’re doing, there’s only one thing in football and that’s to get in and fight for the ball. Fight for the ball!!

Now look, our structures have been dragged all out of position, they are getting numbers to the ball, they are using their plus-one around the contest but we have been slow to react. We need to get more numbers to the contest! Be first to the contest, Attack the contest as a unit!

Bomber, a player can be beaten for half a game and come back in the second half. Now you’ve got to get your eye on the ball and use your tremendous ability to get the ball. At first when you get it you’ll have to kick it because you haven’t had many kicks. Get it and kick it and don’t expect anything else. Get the ball and kick the ball and kick it long.

Bomber, your numbers have been down but keep playing your role and things will turn. When you get the ball I want you look inboard and use the corridor by foot, go long and try to get it over the back of their press or use the fat side if it’s really on.

We’re so far into the mess that we have to be desperate to get out of it. And we will not get out of it with kick-and-mark football. Knock the ball towards our goals and anybody who takes a mark, handball on, handball on, one handball and kick the cover off it.

We are so far off the boil in terms of key indicators; we really need to raise the intensity to get back on terms. It will not happen with possession tempo football, just get it moving forward anyway you can, take a risk, get it moving though their press, run in number, run in waves with link handball, run them off their feet.

Have you got that? One handball and kick the cover off it. I wonder how many blokes are prepared to go totally with me and take the risk. It couldn’t be worse than it is.

Are we clear? Get it and play on, use the sling runner who will go long through the corridor, I need you all to play your role and move forward as a unit. It can’t be worse than what we have been playing; stagnant, stop-start footy.

I’ve seen Matthews on his own over there, but nah, don’t kick it to him, don’t hand pass it, run on and kick it, over the man on the mark, and give it to him if it’s on. Better still if there’s a man coming past give him the ball. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong, at least you’re doing what I asked and at least I’m responsible. But I’m not responsible for the gutless, witless display that’s going on out there. I don’t know how you can… you can face one another and carry on as you’re carrying on out there.

If you see the loose man over there, don’t get sucked into going sideways, keep going fast through the corridor, if the corridor kick is on, take it, it opens up the whole ground. It won’t come off every time but I’ll take the blame when it doesn’t, you are playing our brand. But I won’t wear players who don’t two-way run, players who neglect their defensive responsibilities, who are playing like individuals… you can come in here post game and say, at least I played my role for this team.

Anybody who takes a mark, take the risk and hand-pass, and players without the ball you must have the initiative to come past, but don’t all come past and no one go in, that’s half the trouble. There’s a lot of blokes prepared to run past but not too many are prepared to go in. Go in, get the ball and blokes come past for the handball. Take the risk, if you make the mistake, if you do it and it doesn’t come off, do it again. Do it again. And keep doing it. Keep doing it!

So every time we mark I want runners, drag your man with you, create space for others to run into but don’t all get sucked to the contest, you must keep your structure and shape, but we don’t want a team of outside players either. Somebody still needs to hit the contest, we are getting killed in contested possession numbers. I need more repeat efforts, go and go again. Second efforts are key. More spread, More repeat entries.

Do. Don’t think, Mick, 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 for the sake of the side. Do! Act! Don’t think, act! Eye on the ball. The contest is still the same. You must win the ball to win the match. And more than that, when you win the ball you must cooperate with fellas coming past. And you must be desperate enough to stick with me and do it. The crowd might laugh. It might go wrong. I’m game enough to tell you to do it. Are you game enough to back me up? Are you game enough, Scotty, to back me up on that?

Play your role! Don’t think, don’t hope, play your role! At least come off and say I played my role, I ticked off my KPIs, I played my role in the structure. Play your role. We must play our brand of footy and get it on our terms to win the match, but we will only win if we play as a unit. You must play our brand and keep our structures. The crowd might laugh, it may not come off this time, but if we keep playing our brand of footy the result is not important, we will build into the team we want to become moving forward. Are you all with me?

Inspiring stuff hey?

We'd like to welcome Adam to The Mongrel, and we look forward to more contributions from him in the near future. If you like what you're reading, give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter and... ummm... good things will happen at some point in the future. Possibly to you!