Luke Beveridge likens footy teams to the human nervous system.
One weakness, and the whole system can break down.
It’s an edict Beveridge’s Western Bulldogs live by.
“Once you teach a system, you can bring different personnel through that and they can adapt and they can roll with the punches,” Beveridge said this week.
Beveridge’s Dogs have overcome many obstacles to reach Saturday’s AFL grand final against Sydney. And they play much like the man himself – selfless, smart, tenacious.
Footy is in Beveridge’s blood.
His grandfather Jack played in four consecutive VFL premierships for Collingwood from 1927; his father John was a key figure in St Kilda’s recruiting department for nigh-on three decades.
Beveridge himself played 118 AFL games with three clubs – Melbourne, Footscray and St Kilda – from 1989 to 1999.
“I survived rather than prospered,” he has said of his playing career.
Beveridge believes he’s the last AFL player to hold down a full-time job while pursuing a footy career.
An intelligent man, Beveridge has worked with Austrack, a financial intelligence agency whose responsibilities extend to organised crime and terrorism.
Beveridge had taken two years leave without pay to join Collingwood as the club’s development manager in 2009-10. The Pies won the flag in his last year there.
After a year off from football, Beveridge was considering a return to Austrack when Hawthorn and their coach Alastair Clarkson came calling.
He joined Clarkson’s coaching panel from 2012-14. The Hawks won two flags in his last two years there.
At the end of 2014, Beveridge was appointed as St Kilda’s director of coaching for the 2015 season.
But the Bulldogs came calling. They needed a senior coach. And wanted Beveridge as their man. He accepted.
In two seasons at the helm of the Dogs, Beveridge has won two coach of the season awards, judged by his colleagues at the AFL Coaches Association.
And in two seasons, he’s taken his Bulldogs from the doldrums to the grand final.
“We knew as a club that we were going to be on a journey from day one,” top Dog Marcus Bontempelli said this week.
“What you see is what you get from Bevo.
“He’s an incredibly personable character … one thing he’s done really well is all the relationships he’s formed with each player and the group as a whole.
“It’s something that has really brought us together quite significantly. It has probably been the underlying factor in getting us to where we are.”