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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 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 80vs NTH 55 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
HAW 107vs WCE 61 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 22 17 5 0 118.73 68
West Coast Eagles 22 16 5 1 148.22 66
Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
Sydney Swans 22 16 6 0 127.12 64
Richmond 22 15 7 0 123.09 60
Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
View all

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