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'Horse' prefers Sydney to the bush

Date

Matt Murnane

Cup that: Coach John Longmire with the premiership trophy.

Cup that: Coach John Longmire with the premiership trophy. Photo: Ken Irwin

FORMER teammate Wayne Carey is one of many who never thought they'd see John Longmire in a coach's box, but Murray Longmire says football has been so good to his older brother that he was always going to be involved in the game after he finished playing.

There was a time early in his playing days that John Longmire, Sydney's newest premiership coach, believed he would return to work on the family's farm in Balldale - just north-east of Corowa in New South Wales - when he was done with North Melbourne.

But by the time Longmire had completed his 200-game career with the Roos, he had been away from the farm life since he was 15 and younger brother Murray, known as Beau, said he never expected him to pass up the chance to stay in football.

''In the first seven or eight years of his playing career there was always that thought that he would come back to the farm and he probably always had that thought,'' Murray said.

''But the longer he stayed in Melbourne, and certainly by the time he'd finished footy, there was no expectation that he would come back to the farm. Farming is an interesting lifestyle. There is certainly more security in football, put it that way.

''He had a lot of good contacts in footy and he was thought of in reasonably high regard so there was a lot of opportunities for him and that probably led him to stay in the city.

''I think one day he might come back to the country.''

Carey, who played in a premiership with Longmire in North's triumph in 1999, was convinced the man they call ''Horse'' would never coach.

''Did I think he'd go on to coach an AFL side and be good enough to get that side into a grand final? Sorry, but that thought never crossed my mind. I never pictured him as a coach and never thought he wanted to be a coach. How wrong I was,'' Carey wrote in a column for The Age last week.

Murray Longmire, who speaks to John every week, has taken over the family's farm since the passing of their mother three months ago, but was never going to miss the chance to be a part of Sydney's premiership on Saturday and was at the MCG with his family.

Murray was also in the rooms after the match and said he had never seen his brother, in only his second season as coach, more relieved or satisfied with a victory.

''In 1999 when they won the flag in his last game, he was absolutely excited then. But yesterday he was just rapt for the people around him who put so much work into the club and really just proud of the whole thing,'' Murray said.

''He just had that look of relief, a look of 'thank god for that'.''

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