He won’t be out on the MCG on Friday night for his coach’s milestone match but Dale Thomas personifies the Mick Malthouse way.
Malthouse clocks up an astounding 715 matches in VFL/AFL coaching against Collingwood, surpassing the legendary Jock McHale’s record.
It’s a milestone that McHale held for 88 years and one that Malthouse will own for the foreseeable future – save for the most unlikely of comebacks from Kevin Sheedy, Leigh Matthews or David Parkin.
The scale of what Malthouse has achieved is dramatic.
Seven AFL coaches have played under Malthouse, with 338 others taking the field under his watch. The Blues boss has overseen more games than every other current flag-winning coach – Alastair Clarkson, Paul Roos, John Longmire and Chris Scott – combined.
The closest of his current-day rivals, Rodney Eade, would need to coach for another 18 seasons to match Malthouse’s tally at the age of 75.
It a number Thomas, as the player most associated with Malthouse today, doesn’t see falling any time soon.
“715 games, it’s a record that won’t be surpassed in my time in football, probably in my lifetime,” he said.
Thomas won a flag with Collingwood under Malthouse and was eager to continue his football career with the 61-year-old legend after his switch to the Blues.
Malthouse’s bond with players is what stands him above other coaches, and why Thomas continues to believe Carlton will improve under his watch.
“He’s a really good at understanding each player and their needs and how to get the best out of them,” he said.
“He has a care for his players on more than a football level.
“Once people start ot realise that in a football club, that’s when you get the results.”
Thomas will miss the match against Collingwood on Friday night as he continues he rehabilitation from a shoulder injury in round one, but could return in round six.
“I was pushing to try and be out there and be a part of Mick’s big game but I wasn’t quite there,” Thomas said.
“Hopefully the boys can do the right thing and we can get the result it deserves,” Thomas said.
Carlton (with a win-loss of 1-3) will welcome back Chris Judd for the match between two arch-rivals, while Collingwood (3-1) is likely to include Dane Swan but not Steele Sidebottom.
OUTLASTING THEM ALL: GAMES IN CHARGE BY CURRENT AFL COACHES
714 – Mick Malthouse (Collingwood)
318 – Rodney Eade (Gold Coast)
237 – Alastair Clarkson (Hawthorn)
228 – Paul Roos (Melbourne)
198 – Ross Lyon (Fremantle)
118 – Brad Scott (North Melbourne)
116 – Damien Hardwick (Richmond)
103 – John Longmire (Sydney)
101 – Chris Scott (Geelong)
74 – Nathan Buckley (Collingwood)
70 – James Hird (Essendon)
52 – Ken Hinkley (Port Adelaide)
27 – Alan Richardson (St Kilda)
26 – Leon Cameron (GWS Giants), Adam Simpson (West Coast), Justin Leppitsch (Brisbane)
4 – Luke Beveridge (Western Bulldogs), Phil Walsh (Adelaide).