John Northey

John "Swooper" Northey (born 29 June 1943) is a former Australian rules football player and coach. He played from 1963 to 1970 with the Richmond Football Club. Northey was a dual premiership player with Richmond, winning flags in 1967 and 1969. He is better known, however, as a coach.

John Northey
Personal information
Full name John Neville Northey
Date of birth (1943-06-29) 29 June 1943
Original team(s) Derrinallum
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 69 kg (152 lb)
Position(s) Half forward flank
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1963–1970 Richmond 118 (192)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1985 Sydney Swans 022 000(6160)
19861992 Melbourne 167 00(90761)
19931995 Richmond 067 00(32341)
1996 Brisbane Bears 025 000(1771)
19971998 Brisbane Lions 034 00(12211)
Total 315 (1571544)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1998.
Sources: AFL Tables,

Playing career

A Derrinallum recruit, the lightly framed Northey was a fleetfooted runner and earned the "swooper" nickname by his ability to get the ball and pass it on to a teammate. He played 118 games and kicked 192 goals. He had a vital role in Richmond’s 1967 and 1969 premiership teams.

Coaching career

Northey left Richmond and moved to Sydney to coach in the Sydney Football League. He coached NSW against a VFL Reserves team in 1972 and then Redan to five BFL premierships between 1975 and 1980. He was serving as an assistant coach with St Kilda before he was appointed as senior coach with the Sydney Swans for one season in 1985 where he was sacked after a year when he didn't fit into flamboyant owner Geoffrey Edelsten's vision of a higher profile coach. He was replaced by Tom Hafey.

He then went to coach Melbourne from 1986–1992; his most successful year was when he took the Demons to the 1988 VFL Grand Final, eventually losing to Hawthorn. After the 1992 season he decided to leave the Melbourne Football Club as coach after struggling to finish 11th.

From 1993–1995 he coached his former club, Richmond. His first two seasons at Richmond were unsuccessful but in the 1995 season they finished 3rd putting them into the finals. However, after the 1995 season he resigned as Richmond coach.

He was then appointed Brisbane Bears coach for the 1996 season, leading to their best ever season in making a preliminary final. After the 1996 season the Bears merged with the Fitzroy Lions resulting on the formation of the Brisbane Lions. He was appointed as the inaugural coach of the Brisbane Lions for the 1997 season, leading the team into the finals. After disappointing results, he was sacked after Round 11 of the 1998 season, after a 71-point loss to Fremantle; the Lions eventually finishing last. He was replaced by Roger Merrett for the rest of the 1998 season.

He coached 315 VFL/AFL games including stints at Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions, Melbourne Demons, Richmond Tigers and Brisbane Bears. He sits second on the record for the most VFL/AFL games coached without a premiership behind Rodney Eade.

Post AFL career

At the end of his AFL coaching career, Northey returned to Ballarat, where he was the figurehead to the rebuilding of local BFL side Redan, the club had fallen onto hard times and as a past coach of the club he was asked to help.

He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal by Queen Elizabeth II on 24 October 2000 for his contributions to Australian football.[1]

He went on to coach South Fremantle Football Club for the 2002 and 2003 seasons in the WAFL.

Northey returned to Ballarat, he coached the Ballarat Swans from 2005 and to a premiership in 2008.[2] He is the coach of the Learmonth Football Club.[3]

He also operates his own website at that offers his expert advice on coaching, drills and his own blog.

His nephew is the conductor Benjamin Northey.[4]


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