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Knowing a man called Horse


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

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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all

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