John Worsfold

John Richard Worsfold (born 25 September 1968) is a former Australian rules football player and current coach best known for his career for the West Coast Eagles in the Australian Football League (AFL). He made his senior debut for the South Fremantle Football Club in the West Australian Football League (WAFL), and was named an inaugural squad member of West Coast on their formation in 1986. After winning the club's best and fairest award in 1988, Worsfold was appointed the captain of the club in 1991, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1998. During his period at the club, Worsfold played in 209 games, which including the 1992 and 1994 premiership sides. During this time, he also appeared in five State of Origin matches for Western Australia, including captaining his state twice.

John Worsfold
Worsfold in June 2017
Personal information
Full name John Richard Worsfold
Nickname(s) Woosha
Date of birth (1968-09-25) 25 September 1968
Place of birth Subiaco, Western Australia
Original team(s) South Fremantle
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 86 kg (190 lb)
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1986–1987 South Fremantle (WAFL) 024 0(4)
1987–1998 West Coast 209 (37)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1988–1993 Western Australia 5 (1)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
20022013 West Coast 281 (149–130–2)
20162020 Essendon 90 (39–51-0)
Total 371 (188–181–2)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1998.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of the end of 2019.
Career highlights





Sources: AFL Tables,

In 2000, two years after his retirement from playing, Worsfold joined Carlton as an assistant coach, remaining in this position until the end of the 2001 season, when he was appointed senior coach of West Coast, replacing Ken Judge. Worsfold coached the club in eight finals series, including the 2006 premiership. In 2010, he coached West Coast to its first wooden spoon, but the following season the team finished fourth, with Worsfold receiving the AFLCA Coach of the Year Award for the second time. Overall, he coached West Coast in 274 games, a club record. He resigned at the end of the 2013 season following a poor season in which the Eagles failed to make the finals after having done so in 2011 and 2012. Worsfold was named an inaugural inductee into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004. The John Worsfold Medal is named in his honour.

After a two-year absence from coaching, Worsfold was appointed senior coach of Essendon on 5 October 2015.

Playing career

Born in Subiaco,[1] and growing up in the southern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, Worsfold attended South Fremantle Senior High School in Beaconsfield, graduating in 1985.[2] Falling into the South Fremantle Football Club's recruitment zone, he played in the club's underage teams, and also played in the Western Australia under-18 team that won the state's first Teal Cup in 1985.[3] Worsfold made his senior WAFL debut for South Fremantle in 1986, and played a total of 19 games in his debut season, leading him to be awarded the Rookie of the Year award by the Daily News.[4] At South Fremantle, he also won "Player of the Future" and "Best First Year Player" awards in 1985 and 1986, respectively.[5]

In October 1986, Worsfold was named as a member of the West Coast Eagles' inaugural 32-man squad.[6] He made his senior debut for the club in round four of the 1987 season, against Carlton at Princes Park.[7] Worsfold played a total of 11 games in the club's inaugural season and also played five games in the WAFL for South Fremantle.[8] The following season, he cemented his role in the side playing every game except for two games missed due to suspension in rounds nine and ten. At the end of the season, Worsfold was awarded the Club Champion Award as West Coast's best and fairest, winning by ten votes from runner-up Guy McKenna.[9] He was also awarded a total of five votes in the Brownlow Medal for the best player in the competition, including two votes for 30-disposal and 28-disposal games against Essendon and Melbourne.[10] Worsfold played in his first finals match at the conclusion of the 1988 season, a two-point loss to Melbourne at Waverley Park.[11] Worsfold led West Coast in disposals, kicks, and tackles in 1988.[8]

Worsfold had similar seasons in 1989 and 1990. Having been appointed vice-captain prior to the start of the 1989 season, he took on greater leadership roles under the influence of new coach Michael Malthouse. After the club's loss in the qualifying final to Collingwood, captain Steve Malaxos was dropped from the side for the preliminary final, with Worsfold appointed captain in his place.[12] Moving from a midfield role to a half-back flank in 1991, Worsfold was officially made club captain and played a total of 21 games, including the loss in the 1991 Grand Final to Hawthorn. Worsfold captained the club to premierships in the 1992 and 1994 seasons, and retired at the end of the 1998 season, having played 209 games for the club.

Playing style

Tribunal record
1988StrikingSuspended two matches
1990StrikingSuspended two matches
1993Abusive languageFined A$1,500
1995Throat-grabbingNo penalty

Worsfold began his career as a midfielder but moved to a position on the half-back flank later in his career, where he played most of his football. Considered one of the club's toughest and most courageous players, he was suspended twice in his career, both times for striking.[13]

Worsfold was named on a half-back flank in West Coast's "Team of the Decade" in 1996, and in the same position in teams named for the 20-year and 25-year anniversaries of the club's first season. He was an inaugural inductee into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004,[1] and an inaugural inductee into the West Coast Eagles Hall of Fame in 2011.[14] The Australian Football Hall of Fame's selection process has been criticised for precluding Worsfold's induction, as the Hall of Fame prohibits selectors from considering a person based on a combination of their playing and coaching careers.[15] A function room at Patersons Stadium, the John Worsfold Room is also named after Worsfold.[16]

Coaching career

It is possible, as Worsfold admits, that he may not want to coach at the highest level. He may not even have the right blend of ambition and insanity for the job, but his profile, successful history and hard-man reputation makes him such an obvious candidate for a job that other clubs will take a close look at him. Worsfold's decision to take on an assistant coaching job at Carlton greatly enhances his marketability as a senior coach. By the season's end, he will have more experience than Tim Watson had, but with a similar brand name. He will have many of the perceived qualifications of a senior coach: premierships as a player, a tough guy with peer respect, brains and, crucially, he will have played under and assisted two big-name coaches in Mick Malthouse and David Parkin. Coaching is like kung fu: it helps to have earned your black belt under a master.

The Age, 20 November 1999[17]

For the first year after the end of his playing career, Worsfold worked as a commentator with Channel 7.[18] At the end of 1999, Worsfold confirmed that he was interested in coaching and that he was willing to move away from Perth in order to do so.[19] He was subsequently offered a full-time assistant coaching position at both West Coast and Fremantle,[20] and was at one stage considered a possible candidate to coach Geelong following Gary Ayres' decision to leave the club to coach Adelaide.[21] Worsfold also interviewed for the vacant senior coaching position at Hawthorn, along with Chris Connolly, Mark Harvey, and Peter Schwab, but was turned down in favour of Schwab.[22] Worsfold finally signed a three-year contract to serve as an assistant coach at Carlton.[23] He had also been in contention for the position of senior coach at Richmond but declined to be interviewed after accepting the role at Carlton.[24] Worsfold's appointment was controversial; Carlton's president John Elliott officially confirmed Worsfold had been engaged as assistant coach on The Footy Show, two days before the club was due to play in a preliminary final.[25] Carlton's senior coach David Parkin suggested the appointment had come "out of the blue", and it was later reported that he had threatened to quit as a result of the club's lack of consultation.[26]

As part of a restructure of Carlton's coaching panel, Parkin moved to more of an overseeing role, with his senior assistant coach, Wayne Brittain, given a greater role.[27] Under this structure, Worsfold was given responsibility for coaching the defence, including formulating the club's kick-in strategy.[28] At the end of the 2000 season, with Carlton having lost to Essendon in a preliminary final, Parkin retired as coach, and was replaced by Brittain.[29] Having maintained his role as a defensive coach under Brittain, Worsfold was again considered a strong candidate for several other clubs' vacant senior coaching positions during (and at the conclusion of) the 2001 season.[30] After Damian Drum's sacking as coach of Fremantle midway through the season, Worsfold was approached to interview for the position, but refused, stating a desire to wait until the end of the season.[31] He also stated in his interest in the position at St Kilda, which was eventually filled by Grant Thomas, who had been serving as caretaker coach.[32] After Carlton's season ended with a semi-final loss to Richmond, Worsfold interviewed with both Fremantle and his old playing club, West Coast, who had sacked Ken Judge.[33] He was considered likely to take up the position at Fremantle, with Neil Craig considered a favourite to coach West Coast, but eventually leveraged his status at Fremantle into securing the West Coast position.

His coaching career started in 2000 at Carlton Football Club as an assistant to David Parkin and then to Wayne Brittain in 2001, before applying for the senior coaching roles at both West Coast and Fremantle at the end of the 2001 season. Eventually, he was appointed to the senior coaching role at West Coast, the club he had formerly played for, where he achieved some level of immediate success, taking the club back to the finals in his first season. After a string of early finals exits in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Worsfold finally took the club back to the Grand Final in 2005, where the Eagles were narrowly defeated by four points by the Sydney Swans.

In 2006 the club finished on top of the ladder after the home and away series, and followed it up with a win in the Grand Final, again against the Swans, this time the margin being a solitary point. In doing so Worsfold became only the fourth person in the history of the AFL/VFL to both captain and later coach the same club to an AFL premiership and the first at the West Coast Eagles. In the 2007 season, West Coast finished third on the ladder. They lost to Port Adelaide in the qualifying final then they got eliminated by Collingwood in the semi final. The 2008 season was not as successful for Worsfold and the West Coast Eagles. With the loss of players Chris Judd and Ben Cousins, West Coast went from third to fifteenth, finishing with four wins and eighteen losses and the lowest percentage in the club’s history. In the 2009 season, Worsfold and the West Coast Eagles Football Club made an improvement, finishing eleventh on the ladder with eight wins and fourteen losses.

The 2010 season brought in another low point of Worsfold’s coaching career with the West Coast Eagles completing a spectacular fall from grace and receiving the wooden spoon, winning just four games; two against Essendon and one each against Hawthorn and Melbourne. Injuries and poor form plagued the Eagles’ 2010 season, though their overall record was not as bad as in 2008. Worsfold became the fourth man after Reg Hickey, Charlie Sutton and Tony Jewell to coach the same club to both a premiership and a wooden spoon.

Twelve months later, however, the Eagles were back in the finals, finishing 4th at the end of the home and away season and losing a preliminary final against eventual premiers Geelong. After the club's top-four finish, Worsfold signed a two-year extension to his contract in October 2011.[34] At the conclusion of round ten of the 2012 season, Worsfold passed Mick Malthouse’s record for the most games coached at West Coast.[35]

On 5 September 2013, after an underwhelming season for the Eagles, who finished on 13th the AFL ladder, Worsfold stepped down as the coach of the Eagles.[36][37]

In his 11 years with the club, Worsfold coached 281 games for the Eagles, achieving 149 wins, 2 draws and 130 losses, for a winning percentage of 53.38%.[38]

After the death of a close friend, the Adelaide coach Phil Walsh in July 2015, Worsford took a coaching role for the Adelaide Crows.

On 5 October 2015, Worsfold was appointed as the senior coach of the Essendon Football Club. He signed a three-year contract.[39] His first season at the club proved to be a difficult one, with twelve senior players, including then-captain Jobe Watson and vice-captain Dyson Heppell, receiving suspensions for the 2016 season, as a consequence of Essendon's 2013 doping scandal.[40] Due to this, the club finished on the bottom of the ladder for the first time since 1933, and Worsfold claimed his second wooden spoon as a coach. However, he would take the Bombers back to the finals in 2017, where they suffered a 65-point elimination final defeat at the hands of the Sydney Swans at the Sydney Cricket Ground.[41]

Coaching style

In an era where most coaches had implemented "the flood" defence by having their players zone back, Worsfold maintained a man-on-man style of game for his West Coast team during the mid-2000s. While this led West Coast to much success in the home and away season, finishing second and first after the home and away rounds in 2005 and 2006 respectively, the strategy, or rather the inflexibility from this strategy also led to criticism at times. Firstly, teams such as the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle were perceived to exploit West Coast's macro-positioning. However, the most notable example of this criticism came after the qualifying final against Sydney in 2006.[42] However, West Coast did proceed to defeat Sydney in the Grand Final three weeks later.

The 2009 season had seen Worsfold and his coaching department implement the use of both zone defence and man-on-man strategy depending on the situation.[43]


Playing statistics

 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1987 West Coast 241110874212929200.
1988 West Coast 242147331135466120400.20.315.86.422.25.71.9
1989 West Coast 242065258127385101440.30.312.96.419.35.12.2
1990 West Coast 24231221815237076450.
1991 West Coast 24211018613031656310.
1992 West Coast 24221217711729464470.
1993 West Coast 24196219711931656320.
1994 West Coast 24192312711624341410.
1995 West Coast 242013211810522337270.
1996 West Coast 2420091120600.
1997 West Coast 241400806814835160.
1998 West Coast 241723966816446210.
Career 209 37 26 1884 1190 3074 667 364 0.2 0.1 9.0 5.7 14.7 3.2 1.7

Coaching statistics

Statistics are correct to the end of the 2018 season[45]
 W  Wins  L  Losses  D  Draws  W%  Winning percentage  LP  Ladder position  LT  League teams
Season Team Games W L D W % LP LT
2002 West Coast 231112047.8%816
2003 West Coast 23129256.5%716
2004 West Coast 231310056.5%716
2005 West Coast 25196076.0%216
2006 West Coast 26206076.9%116
2007 West Coast 24159062.5%316
2008 West Coast 22418018.2%1516
2009 West Coast 22814036.4%1116
2010 West Coast 22418018.2%1616
2011 West Coast 25187072.0%417
2012 West Coast 24168066.7%518
2013 West Coast 22913040.9%1318
2016 Essendon 22319013.6%1818
2017 Essendon 231211052.2%718
2018 Essendon 221210054.4%1118
Career totals 348 176 170 2 50.6%

Honours and achievements

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1987 0
1988 5
1989 0
1990 0
1991 0
1992 1
1993 4
1994 0
1995 0
1996 0
1997 1
1998 0
Total 11

Playing honours



Coaching honours



Personal life

Worsfold married his wife, Georgina, in 1994, with whom he has three children: Sophie, Charlie, and Grace.[46] Outside of football, he completed a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the Curtin University of Technology in 1989, and later worked as a pharmacist for an amount of time.[47] In 2009, Worsfold completed a course at INSEAD, a business administration school in Fontainebleau, France.[48] and occasionally works as a motivational speaker.[3] Worsfold's younger brother, Peter Worsfold, played 31 games for the Brisbane Bears, and later captained South Fremantle.[49]


  1. West Australian Football Hall of Fame members – West Australian Football Commission. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  2. John Worsfold profile – LinkedIn. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  3. John Worsfold – Celebrity Speakers. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  4. Coaching staff Archived 6 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine – West Coast Eagles. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  5. PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS Archived 18 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine – South Fremantle Football Club. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  6. West Coast Eagles history timeline – West Coast Eagles. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  7. Carlton v West Coast, 18 April 1987 – AFLTables. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  8. John Worsfold player statistics – AFLTables. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  9. Club Champion Award winners: 1987–2012 – West Coast Eagles. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  10. 1988 Brownlow Medal: Round by Round – AFLTables. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  11. Melbourne v West Coast, 3 September 1988. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  12. Steve Malaxos – Eagles Flying High. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  13. Historical tribunal record Archived 18 July 2012 at – Australian Football League. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  14. Worsfold, Malthouse earn Hall of Fame nod – Real Footy. Published 6 August 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  15. White, Simon (2011). Not happy, John: Worsfold again denied Hall of Fame honour – Real Footy. Published 10 June 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  16. Patersons Stadium History Archived 13 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine – West Australian Football Commission. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  17. Niall, Jake (1999). Softly, softly approach for old, hard manThe Age. Published 20 November 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  18. Browne, Ashley (1999). Scoring boundariesThe Age. Published 25 February 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  19. Smith, Patrick (1999). Hawks want player in coach trade-offThe Age. Published 23 August 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  20. Denham, Ashley and Mark Duffield (1999). Eagles may have to bite bulletThe Age. Published 25 August 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  21. Happell, Charles (1999). Crows set to name AyresThe Age. Published 30 August 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  22. Rielly, Stephen (1999). Judge firms as Hawks' No.2 goes westThe Age. Published 10 September 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  23. Rielly, Stephen and Caroline Wilson (1999). Eagle Worsfold lands a coaching role at CarltonThe Age. Published 17 September 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  24. Niall, Jake (1999). Tigers look to Brittain again for coachThe Age. Published 18 September 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  25. Johnson, Len (1999). New coach was "out of the blue"The Age. Published 22 September 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  26. Wilson, Caroline (1999). Parkin quit threatThe Age. Published 20 September 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  27. Niall, Jake (1999). Parkin to spread Blues' coaching loadThe Age. Published 22 November 1999. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  28. Niall, Jake (2000). Who's the boss?The Age. Published 26 March 2000. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  29. Wilson, Caroline (2000). Private face of a very public clubThe Age. Published 15 November 2000. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  30. Walls, Robert (2001). For a coach, they could do WorsfoldThe Age. Published 10 August 2001. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  31. Ryan, Melissa (2001). Worsfold decides to stay true BlueThe Age. Published 1 June 2001. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  32. Quayle, Emma (2001), with Mark Duffield. Worsfold keen on Saints' top jobThe Age. Published 26 July 2001. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  33. Baum, Greg (2001). Worsfold a wanted man againThe Age. Published 16 October 2001. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  34. West Coast re-sign John Worsfold as Eagles coach on two-year contract extension – Fox Sports. Published 19 October 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  35. Quartermaine, Braden (2012). John Worsfold to become West Coast's longest-serving captain and coach – PerthNow. Published 19 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  40. "Essendon drug scandal: CAS verdict on Bombers live coverage". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. 12 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  41. Waterworth, Ben (11 September 2017). "Robert Walls blasts John Worsfold's coaching performance in Essendon's loss to the Sydney Swans". Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  42. Another headache for Worsfold as Eagles plot new course to grand final (14 September 2006)
  43. No fade-out for West Coast Eagles against Port Adelaide
  44. John Worsfold's player profile at AFL Tables
  45. "John Worsfold's coaching profile". AFL Tables.
  46. Eagles coach John Worsfold talks about Ben Cousins, drugs, Mainwaring Archived 23 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine – PerthNow. Published 15 August 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  47. "Famous Curtin Graduates". Retrieved 13 March 2006. Archived 7 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  48. Schmook, Nathan (2012). John Worsfold Q&A Archived 14 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine – West Coast Eagles. Published 22 February 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  49. Peter Worsfold joins West Coast coachesSydney Morning Herald online. Published 29 December 2006. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
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