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Knowing a man called Horse

Date

Wayne Carey

John Longmire, last night named as the AFL coach of the year by his peers, is someone you can count on.

Premiership joy: Wayne Carey (left), John Longmire (centre) and Mick Martyn in 1999.

Premiership joy: Wayne Carey (left), John Longmire (centre) and Mick Martyn in 1999. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

JOHNNY Longmire seems to be a closed book to most people; they can't quite get a handle on him. I know that because I'm often asked: what's he really like?

Well, I'd say he was a lovely bloke who's sensible, responsible, hard-working, quite serious at times - and trustworthy. So trustworthy that, when the Kangaroos went on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas in the mid-1990s - and I don't recount this tale lightly given the tragedy that recently happened there - there was only one person I wanted to look after my cash, and that was ''Horse'' Longmire.

I knew that if I'd had too much to drink and lost a bit on the tables, I'd want to delve into my stash of cash and try to win that money back. So I wanted someone to save me from myself when I wasn't thinking straight.

I gave Horse my wallet and said: ''Put this in the hotel safe and don't let me get my hands on it, right?''

I totally trusted him to look after it - and me. He was also a big, strong bloke, so I knew he wouldn't crumble when I put the pressure on him to get it back. But, sure enough, that night I dropped a bit at the casino and straight away made a beeline for Horse. ''I need my money,'' I said.

''Nup, you can't have it.''

''Horse, give me the money, I need it now. Give me the code to the safe.''

''No, you told me not to let you have it. So you're not getting it.''

This conversation went on for quite a while before he said: ''OK, well take your (expletive) money. But don't ever ask me to do that again if you're going to put me in that position.''

Of course, he was right. I had put him in an unfair position. But that's Johnny for you: honest, responsible and straight as a die.

I've known Johnny since we both played for New South Wales at an under-12 carnival in Darwin. He was from Corowa-Rutherglen and I was from Wagga and we were presented with our team tracksuit before we left. It was light and dark blue and had ''NSW - Under-12 Interstate Carnival'' embroidered on it and I thought it was one of the best things I'd ever seen. ''Longers'' won the towel for best NSW player at that carnival, but that was no great surprise because he was just a superstar player as a junior.

It wasn't long before he was being chased by every VFL club; I don't think there was one club that didn't want a piece of him.

The other interesting part of that trip is that Greg Miller, the Swans' - and, later, North Melbourne's - recruiting officer was in Darwin watching the carnival. Even though it was a small-time under-12 event, he was up there doing his scouting and

research. Who could have guessed that, several years later, after Greg had left the Swans and joined North Melbourne as recruiting officer and football manager, that he'd recruit Johnny and me to the Kangaroos.

But there's no doubt that John was the player who had really caught his eye and was considered the gun recruit. Of course, we were tied to the Swans, being local boys, but Greg happened to be at AFL House in Jolimont one day in 1986 or '87 when he bumped into the Swans' chief executive, Ron Thomas. Never one to let a chance go by, Greg spoke to Thomas about Longers and me; they agreed on the spot to a $60,000 transfer fee for John and $10,000 for me. John was the great catch; I was just the set of steak knives thrown in. That's how we both ended up at Arden Street.

In those early days, when the young Kangas players were staying at various club houses in Moonee Ponds, Strathmore and Kensington, Johnny was a bit of a practical joker. He lived with Brenton Harris, Chris Lindsay, Liam Pickering and myself at different times and I remember he'd sneak around to the other houses at night and play little games on the other guys, silly stuff like putting a wig on a mophead and banging on bedroom windows in the middle of the night.

He was just a teenage country recruit who liked a laugh as much as anyone. He was a good guy to be around. On Sundays, he'd like to have a beer like everyone else and was one of the first in line for that, so he was no prude. But he always had a sensible and serious side to him; he always knew when enough was enough, when to leave a party and go home, that sort of thing. Unlike some of the rest of us, Johnny knew when it was time to pull up stumps.

Horse was a hard trainer but wasn't a guy who spoke a lot. Later in his career, I remember him chipping young guys who weren't training hard enough or who were cutting corners with their preparation.

Some guys get voted into club leadership groups and think it's all about talking more. That's not the case. Some leaders prefer to lead by action not word. We had a few of those at the Roos, such as Anthony Stevens and John Blakey, who didn't say a lot, and I'd put Longers in that category, too. But when he spoke, people listened: you knew when he wasn't happy.

John had a successful but injury-prone career at North and he experienced a whole range of different emotions over the 10 years or so he was there. He was a gun full-forward who kicked 98 goals in the 1990 season as a 19-year-old. He kicked 14 one week against Melbourne and 12 against Richmond and needed just four goals in that last home-and-away game to crack the ton but kicked 2.8.

That year, he won the club best and fairest (and Coleman Medal) and kicked eight goals to help NSW upset Victoria in a memorable state-of-origin match. He was a superstar in the making. Imagine someone younger than, say, West Coast's Jack Darling nearly kicking 100 goals, winning the league goalkicking award, his club's best and fairest and starring in state of origin.

He kicked a lot of goals over the next five years, averaging more than 70 a season, but did his knee at the start of the 1996 season and missed out on our premiership that year. I remember seeing him in tears on the ground after the grand final - knowing Longers, they were tears of happiness for his teammates.

That surgery affected his mobility so when he came back in 1997, Denis (Pagan) played him in defence where he could run more in straight lines, and also gave him spells in the ruck.

He played in our 1999 grand final side but, even then, it was a close-run thing. I remember Denis asking me about John before that grand final. There was a discussion about Horse's form and whether I thought he should play. I had no doubt in saying he'd do the job for us; I was very much in his corner.

As it happened, Jason McCartney got suspended for the grand final so it became an academic argument. Horse played and did a good job and earned the premiership medallion he missed out on three years earlier. And that was the last game he played for North Melbourne, or anyone else.

But 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. Johnny's done a hell of a job with the Swans this year. I said eight weeks ago I thought he should have been named coach of the year and that was well before the finals series had started. I can't speak highly enough of him and how his team has performed this year.

No one will be happier than me if big Horse can complete that journey from the Darwin under-12s carnival to the biggest stage of all on Saturday and join that elite group who've played in and coached premiership teams.

Wayne Carey is a columnist for sports opinion website backpagelead.com.au

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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
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Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs WBU 13:10AS
GEE vs GCF 15:20SS
WCE vs FRE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC vs MEL 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 11:10NZ
ESS vs COL 14:40MCG
GWS vs GCF 17:40SO
PTA vs HAW 19:40Adelaide Oval
FRE vs SYD 20:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:10G
GEE vs NTH 15:20SS
WBU vs ADE 16:40ES
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Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GEE 13:45MCG
SYD vs WBU 14:10SCG
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
NTH vs HAW 19:20ES
WCE vs GWS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs FRE 13:10MCG
STK vs ESS 15:20ES
ADE vs PTA 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
WBU vs STK 14:10ES
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
BRI vs PTA 16:40G
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Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs WCE 13:45ES
GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs COL 16:35MS
HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
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Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
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Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
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Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
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AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 3 3 0 0 171.27 12
Sydney Swans 3 3 0 0 141.75 12
Fremantle 2 2 0 0 139.84 8
Richmond 3 2 1 0 139.37 8
Collingwood 3 2 1 0 125.65 8
Western Bulldogs 2 2 0 0 118.95 8
GWS Giants 3 2 1 0 113.47 8
Essendon 3 2 1 0 104.74 8
View all
 
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