John Longmire has never been a headline act.
As a player, he was in the shadows of Wayne Carey.
As a coach, he’s in the shadows of luminary Alastair Clarkson.
And it’s just the way Longmire likes it.
Always earmarked for greatness, it’s no surprise he’s achieved it – as a player, and now as Sydney’s coach.
Just don’t expect him to say it: Longmire is a measured man when it comes to words. He’s not a headline act.
At the end of 1987, Longmire was a lump of a 16-year-old lad from Corowa on the NSW side of the Murray River who invited on North Melbourne’s trip to London for an exhibition game.
Longmire, 194cm tall, precociously talented and nicknamed Horse – the politically correct version is because of his strapping build – went on to play 200 games for the Kangaroos.
Longmire the player was a champion goalkicker who won the Coleman Medal in 1999 when he slotted 98 goals – he booted 2.8 in the final match to miss the century milestone.
But Longmire the coach values defence above attack: his Swans are renowned for boasting the AFL’s best defence.
But above all that, he values his players.
“It’s less about blowing the whistle and moving the cones and it’s more about the players,” Longmire has said.
“I try to get as much time as I can with them … it’s such an important part of the coaching team to make sure that you’re really switched on to the tactical side of it as well as looking after the day-to-day needs of the players.”
After joining Sydney as an assistant coach in 2002, Longmire took over from Paul Roos as senior coach in 2011.
And he can still remember Roos’ opening words to the Swans when he started his coaching reign in the early 2000s.
“I’m not going to treat you all the same, I’m going to treat you all fairly, but I’ll treat you as individuals.”
That message has been a cornerstone of the philosophy of Longmire, who this season had his contract to coach Sydney extended until the end of 2020.
That would be a decade at the helm. And he’ll be the third Swans coach in a row to break the club’s coaching games record after Rodney Eade and Roos.
And on Saturday, Longmire could become the Swans’ first-ever dual premiership coach.