Brett Ratten as North Melbourne interim coach (L) and St Kilda coach. Pictures: AFL Photos

RECENT history suggests coaches do not fare well against their former club, although Brett Ratten will only need to look at the rival coaches' box on Sunday afternoon for inspiration on how to buck the trend.

Ratten, currently North Melbourne's interim coach, will lead the Kangaroos against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, an extraordinary turn of events given he was handed a two-year contract extension at the Saints a little more than a year ago.

His messy exit from Moorabbin last October has been well documented and Sunday's game will be the 21st instance since the turn of a century that a head coach has taken on his former side.

Brett Ratten addresses St Kilda players during their R16 2022 match against Sydney. Picture: AFL Photos

For all the talk of revenge and getting one back on your friend-turned-foe, the trend of the past 23 years does not bode well for Ratten and the Kangaroos; coaches have a 6-14 record this century when coaching against their former club for the first time.

In 2019, Ratten himself suffered a loss in his first game against Carlton, which he coached from 2007 to 2012, after taking on the top job at the Saints. That game also happened to be the first as full-time Carlton coach for David Teague, who enjoyed the storied 'new-coach bounce' in his first season at the helm.

The man who has handled the occasion of coaching against a former team the best is ironically the same man who replaced Ratten at the Saints, and who he will face this Sunday. Ross Lyon led St Kilda to a famous win over Fremantle, his former club, in round one this year having guided the Dockers to victory over the Saints in his debut season in the west in 2012.

Ross Lyon looks on during the R1 match between St Kilda and Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on March 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Lyon is one of just three men this century to twice coach against a former side. Rodney Eade (against Sydney in 2005 and the Western Bulldogs in 2015) and Mick Malthouse (against West Coast in 2000 and Collingwood in 2013) both lost their two attempts at getting one back on their old clubs.

Remarkably given the scarcity of these instances since the turn of the century, Sunday's game will be the fourth time in a little more than four months that a coach has faced his former club for the first time.

Following St Kilda's win in round one over Lyon's old club, Alastair Clarkson suffered a loss to Hawthorn in round three before Brad Scott led Essendon to victory over North in round 12.

Coaching against a former club for the first time, since 2000*
(P: 20, W: 6, L: 14)


R19: Brett Ratten, North Melbourne v St Kilda: TBC
R12: Brad Scott, Essendon v North Melbourne: WON
R3: Alastair Clarkson, North Melbourne v Hawthorn: LOST
R1: Ross Lyon, St Kilda v Fremantle: WON


R22: Michael Voss, Carlton v Brisbane: LOST


R22: Brett Ratten, St Kilda v Carlton: LOST


R15: John Worsfold, Essendon v West Coast: LOST


R15: Rodney Eade, Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs: LOST


R6: Paul Roos, Melbourne v Sydney: LOST
R15: Mark Thompson, Essendon v Geelong: LOST


R2: Mick Malthouse, Carlton v Collingwood: LOST
R22: Neil Craig, Melbourne v Adelaide: LOST


R4: Ross Lyon, Fremantle v St Kilda: WON
R9: Kevin Sheedy, GWS v Essendon: LOST


R3: Terry Wallace, Richmond v Western Bulldogs: WON
R9: Rodney Eade, Western Bulldogs v Sydney: LOST


R5: Denis Pagan, Carlton v North Melbourne: WON


R15: Malcolm Blight, St Kilda v Adelaide: LOST


R3: Gary Ayres, Adelaide v Geelong: LOST
R10: Ken Judge, West Coast v Hawthorn: WON
R11: Mick Malthouse, Collingwood v West Coast: LOST  

*Five coaches – Simon Goodwin, Chris Connolly, Alan Richardson, Brendon Bolton and Jaymie Graham – were briefly stand-in coaches due to illness before going on to coach against their former club. They have not been included in this list