Beloved Hawthorn champion John Kennedy Senior has tonight become the 29th Legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

The acknowledgement is the latest in a career bursting with accolades. Most notably, in 2003 Kennedy became Hawthorn's first ever club legend in recognition of a lifetime of service to the brown and gold.

Read: A timeline of all Kennedy's achievements with the Hawthorn Football Club 

Kennedy was a four-time best and fairest winner as a player at Hawthorn between 1950-59, before coaching the club to its initial three premierships in 1961, 1971 and 1976. He is acknowledged by all at Hawthorn as the father of the club, both for turning it from an easy-beat into a power, and for laying out the values by which the Hawks should operate.

Later in his six-decade contribution to the game, Kennedy served as coach at North Melbourne for five seasons, served as AFL Commission Chairman from 1993-97 and also served as Chair of the AFL Life Members’ nomination committee.

Protégé David Parkin, who was given his debut by Kennedy in 1961, then captained the 1971 premiership team under him and eventually inherited the senior coaching role in 1977, said Kennedy was the most important man in his life.

“John is a modest man of great character, who has positively enhanced the lives of thousands who have been lucky enough to cross his path,” Parkin said. 

“His most famous quote of ‘Don’t think, do’, probably best sums up the man. He commanded respect, taught us how to overcome the fear of failure and asked nothing of us that he wouldn’t do himself.

“His coaching and his example in life was based around mental and physical courage – don’t shirk an issue, consider others and if you’re knocked down, get up immediately and get on with it.

“He has been the most important influence in my life outside of my parents.”

AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder said Kennedy, who will be 92 later this year, had his nomination for Legend Status formally confirmed by the AFL Commission in March, and on the Commission’s request was personally informed at the time by Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan at his home in Hawthorn.

“Our game has not seen any event in our history that has forced us from our ovals and fields for this length of time, and the current temporary absence of football has reminded us of why we love Australian football and we are desperate for its return,” Mr Goyder said. 

“This time has also reminded us of those players, great moments and unforgettable matches that first drew us as fans to the game, the heroes who captured our imagination and the great teams and players to whom we tied our allegiances for life. 

“In the Australian Football Hall of Fame, our Legends stand above our greats and, on behalf of the selectors, it is my great honour to declare John Kennedy was elected as a Legend, recognising his six-decade contribution to our game,” he said. 

01:38 Mins
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A legend, always

A true legend of the club, respected by all; the great John Kennedy Snr.

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John Kennedy career record:

  • Played 164 games and scored 29 goals for Hawthorn: 1950-59
  • Club Captain: 1955 - 1959
  • Club Best & Fairest: 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954
  • State Captain of Victoria: 1957
  • Played 4 State games for Victoria
  • Coached 412 games for Hawthorn and North Melbourne: 1957, 1960-63, 1967-76, 1985-89
  • Three-time VFL Premiership coach: 1961, 1971, 1976
  • Two-Time Night Premiership coach: 1968, 1969
  • Coach of Victoria: 1973
  • Hawthorn Team of the Century: 2001 (Coach)
  • Inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 (Coach)
  • Inducted into the Hawthorn Hall of Fame as a Legend in 2003
  • Chair, AFL Commission: 1993 – 1997