Bolton joins non-player coach list

Not all AFL players would make good coaches, and not all coaches need to have been AFL players, as Carlton’s new coach Brendon Bolton can attest.

Bolton’s appointment makes him the latest addition to the short list of head coaches in recent times who never played in the top competition.

Dating back to 1990 when the VFL was rebadged as the AFL, the list includes Col Kinnear and John Cahill, both of whom, whether due to lack of luck or skill, lost a majority of their games.

Under Kinnear, Sydney finished the final VFL premiership in 1989 in a respectable seventh but struggled the following two years in the AFL slipping to 13th and 12th.

Cahill was one of Port Adelaide and the SANFL’s most celebrated coaches and players, having played 264 games and coaching his team to 10 SANFL premierships.

Unfortunately upon joining the AFL, Cahill’s team finished ninth and 10th in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

Then there’s Wayne Brittain who in 2002 helmed the Blues to their first wooden spoon after a promising sixth place in 2001.

Just before Bolton came Brendan McCartney, whose career with the Western Bulldogs spanning 2012 to his resignation after the 2014 season saw his team finish 15th, 15th and 14th.

The Blues however can take comfort knowing their new coach is in good company with the list’s stand-out Neil Craig who took the Adelaide Crows to the finals five years in a row and won a minor premiership in 2005.


Brendan McCartney: Western Bulldogs, 2012-2014 – 66 games (20-46-0)

Neil Craig: Adelaide, 2004-2011 – 166 games (92-74-0)

Wayne Brittain: Carlton, 2001-2002 – 46 games (18-28-0)

John Cahill: Port Adelaide, 1997-1998 – 44 games (19-23-2)

Col Kinnear: Sydney, 1989-1991 – 66 games (23-42-1)

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