IN SEPTEMBER 1961, in the aftermath of what was then its first Grand Final victory in League football history, Hawthorn Premiership Coach the late John Kennedy sen. acknowledged the influence of his former coach the Carlton Premiership hero of 1938 Jack Hale.
As coach, Hale mentored Kennedy through most of his 164-game career, and clearly influenced the latter’s coaching methodology.
To quote Kennedy: “Jack Hale taught Hawthorn to hate defeat”.
Sixty years on, and the Hale legacy endures, through a generational coaching connection with some of the game’s true luminaries – from Kennedy through to David Parkin, Leigh Matthews and now Michael Voss.
Carlton’s 26-man squad, including the 19 members of its 1938 Premiership team. Jack Hale sits at the far left in the second row.
More of that later, but for the moment it’s important the Hale story is told.
Raised just a stone’s throw from the Carlton ground in nearby Richardson Street, Jack Hale’s childhood days invariably took in the terraces of Princes Park where he and his father watched on in wonderment as the likes of Horrie Clover and Paddy O’Brien strutted their stuff in dark navy.
Taking his highcuts to Carlton in the early 1930s, Hale broke through as a senior player in the third round of 1933, against Geelong at Princes Park, when he was named on a half-back flank alongside Jim Park. Ultimately he found his feet as first rover for the greater part of his 123-game, nine-season career which was prematurely ended when he badly broke his leg – the best of them the drought-breaking Grand Final victory over Collingwood in 1938.
Carlton ended a 23-year Premiership drought on that one day in September – in no small part due to Hale whom captain-coach Brighton Diggins had assigned the task of curbing the Magpies’ star rover Des Fothergill. Before a then record audience of more than 96,000, Hale kept Fothergill in check and played a blinder, booting the sealer to secure the Blues’ sixth Premiership in League competition.
“To be part of the team which defeated Collingwood that day was a great experience,” Hale said later.
“The crowd was so massive that it spilled over the MCG fence to sit three deep behind the boundary line. I just couldn’t do anything wrong. It was one of those days when the ball just seems to follow you.”
Hale maintained his Carlton connection as coach of its reserve grade teams for four years, before accepting an offer to coach the South Melbourne seniors in 1948. Amid bitter acrimony at board level, Hale resigned from the position after just two seasons, and in ’52 he took on senior coaching duties at Hawthorn.
“When I went to Hawthorn I took the Carlton spirit with me,” Hale said later. “I wanted to create a Hawthorn spirit by encouraging the local kids to become involved. I suppose it was the start of the ‘family club’ tradition.”
At Glenferrie, Hale took Hawthorn from rock bottom to its first ever finals appearance – the 1957 first semi final, ironically against Carlton – and the Hawks triumphed in a contest best remembered for a freakish half-time hailstorm.
Beyond his years as Hawthorn coach, Hale continued to give back to the great Australian game as a member of the VFL Umpires Appointment Board, a role he held for 15 years. A Life Member of Carlton, Hawthorn and the AFL, he died at the age of 88 in June 2001.
But in the 20 years since his passing and the sixty since Hawthorn’s maiden Grand Final triumph, Jack Hale’s coaching legacy has not only endured, but come full circle – through the Kennedy-coached Hawthorn Premiership player and Hawthorn and Carlton Premiership coach David Parkin; who as with Kennedy coached the Hawthorn Premiership player and Collingwood and Brisbane Premiership Coach Leigh Matthews; and now the Matthews-coached Carlton mentor Michael Voss – a three-time Brisbane Premiership captain under Matthews and the man Voss cites as his greatest influence.
THE HALE COACHING LINEAGE
Senior player (123 matches, 1933-’41, including the victorious 1938 Grand Final)
Senior Coach (146 matches for 61 wins, 84 losses and a draw) 1952-’59
JOHN KENNEDY Sr.
Senior player (164 matches, 1950-’59, including eight seasons under Hale);
Senior Coach 1957, 1960-’63 and 1967-’76 (299 matches for 181 wins, 116 losses and two draws); Premiership Coach 1961 and ’71
Senior player (211 matches 1961-’64, including the victorious Kennedy-coached 1971 Grand Final);
Senior Coach 1977-’80 (94 matches for 57 wins and 37 losses); Premiership Coach 1978
Senior Coach 1981-’85 and 1991-2000 (355 matches for 219 wins, 134 losses and two draws); Premiership Coach 1981-’82 and 1995
Senior player (332 matches 1969-’85, including the victorious Kennedy-coached 1971 Grand Final and the victorious Parkin-coached 1978 Grand Final)
Senior Coach 1999-2008 (237 matches for 142 wins and 92 losses and three draws); Premiership Coach 2001-’03
Senior player (289 matches 1992-2006, including the victorious Matthews-coached 2001-’03 Grand Finals);
Senior Coach 2009-2013 (109 matches for 43 wins, 65 losses and one draw)
Senior Coach 2022-