JOHN Kennedy resigned as coach after leading the Hawks to the 1976 premiership, with the reins of the club handed to his assistant and 1971 premiership captain David Parkin.
The club held a testimonial dinner in 1977 for their three-time flag-winning coach, where Parkin and Kennedy addressed the audience.
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Parkin spoke with great passion about his 17-year association with Kennedy, first as a player and then as his assistant coach, before handing over the microphone the father of the modern Hawthorn Football Club. This is an excerpt of the speech Kennedy made in response to Parkin's glowing introduction:
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank very sincerely the committee and I thank very sincerely all of you people who have come and have done me the honour of coming here.
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David can string words together perhaps better than I can. He probably has had an 'in' for being coach.
But I've always said this, and can repeat it without any false modesty, that Hawthorn has done more for me than I have ever been able to do for Hawthorn. We know ourselves best of all and I know how much in the first few years playing football for Hawthorn gave me some sort of confidence that I felt I lacked. I never quite overcame it, but Hawthorn gave me a great start in that respect.
Hawthorn too gave me the chance to play league football, to be part of football and football for me has always meant two things. It's meant the opportunity to play the game and to be judged according to your performance and nothing else.
You are judged by your performance and nothing else.
The score goes up on the board after every week and that's the judgement that's made. That is the way it is and I think that's a great thing. It's an attraction for me, it always attracted me to football and Hawthorn gave me the opportunity to be part of this.
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But Hawthorn did more than that for me.
Hawthorn gave me the chance to meet some wonderful people and over the years it's been my privilege and pleasure to work with them.
To meet the first president of our club, Dave Prentice who has passed on since. To meet two people such as Dr Sandy Ferguson and Phil Ryan. Hawthorn has given me the opportunity to meet these men and to be influenced by them and to copy some of their methods.
Jack Hale was my coach for many years – he won't mind my saying he had many wonderful attributes, not the least of which was a tremendous psychiatric ability. There were no injuries for Jack. None, just none. Unless you had an obvious break when the arm was broken, you weren't injured and he'd always point to his head and say, "It's up there, it's up there."
We had a memorable 10 minutes before the game when these electric things were happening always, when Jack was coach.
You would see the disappointed look on his face when he'd be talking to the team and he'd see any player who had a bandage on him. These things used to worry Jack. I've seen him visibly affected by a bandage. He'd be speaking with the players before the game and suddenly someone who had a piece of plaster on his leg or a knee bandage, or even a slight bit of tape around his leg and you'd see his eyes and the disappointed look he would get. Nobody was allowed to wear bandages or anything like that.
But what I want to say is that the best victories that we've had at Hawthorn are the victories which we've had when everything was running against us. The philosophy of Karl Marx and the underdog was mentioned.
The Melbourne Club which I admire greatly, and I've always had tremendous respect for them, was our best victory that I can recall. In 1961, not in the Grand Final but in the semi-final, every Hawthorn player who went on to the field knew what was ahead of him, because Melbourne stood between us and the premiership.
I think most Hawthorn supporters knew that we had the game and we had the premiership when we beat Melbourne that day and that's the sort of victory that stands out in my mind.
Dave, you'll forgive me for saying this, because this is more important than whose testimonial it is tonight.
This is more important.
This year we've got a daring team who are prepared to do things that perhaps we weren't prepared to do before with a more conservative approach.
But don't let us mistake our attitude when the finals come. This is important for the present team because football after all is a game of the present, very much a game of the present.
All of us here from 1961, 1971 and all those years, are all together for Hawthorn's sake. It's a great club, a wonderful club.
It's worth doing something for, absolutely worth doing something for. Now when we get into the finals, make absolutely sure that the 18 (players) we have got there is in the right frame of mind.
If we are doing that, I'm sure we'll get there and it will be two in a row and Dave will have his first premiership as a coach and that's what I want.
Footnote: Although the Hawks would only make it as far as the preliminary final in 1977, they would win the 1978 decider with Parkin at the helm.