John Kennedy Snr was a teacher by trade.

He taught English, could recite Shakespeare and once quoted Karl Marx in a post-match press conference.

But perhaps the best lesson he ever gave was teaching Hawthorn how to win. 

In the four seasons prior to John Kennedy's arrival at Hawthorn, the club had finished last twice and second last in the two other years.

The first 25 years of the club's existence had seen 449 games played for just 99 wins. 

Hawthorn was not just a minnow of the competition, it was the easy-beat and the laughing stock. 

Kennedy first pulled on a brown and gold jumper in 1950. 

Across his first 70 games as a Hawthorn player, Kennedy won just 12.

The final 70 games of his career saw the club's win-loss ratio improve dramatically - albeit to an even split, 35-35.

In his third year as captain in 1957, Kennedy led the side to its first finals appearance in club history after 32 long years.

The Hawks won their semi final against Carlton in the opening week before bowing out to eventual premiers Melbourne in the preliminary final.

That would be the closest Kennedy got to tasting team success as a player. 

Clarko: There are so many superlatives for John Kennedy Snr

Granted, Kennedy's playing career didn't have the fairytale ending - the premiership cup to symbolise the club's progression.

But, Hawthorn's transformation throughout this period was apparent to all. It might not have had the tangibility of a premiership cup, but it was most definitely there and Kennedy's influence on the club was only just getting started.  

In the lead-up to his induction as a Legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame earlier this month, Kennedy Snr said his ambitions to become a coach were there before he had even hung up his boots. 

"I was ready to coach because I wanted to coach so much," Kennedy said. 

"I had the desire to be captain and then I had the desire to lead and to be coach.

"I felt that I had something to give in the way of direction, and the way we should play.

"I wanted to stress the importance of the team winning, and not so much the importance of the individual success."

Kennedy called time on his playing career in 1959 and was duly appointed coach the following year.

The Hawks continued their ascent in Kennedy's first year with the reins, but a run of 11 wins in its final 13 games of the home and away season couldn't quite overcome a slow start and the club narrowly missed a finals berth on account of percentage. 

But Hawthorn's growing belief was now consolidated and justified by results, by winning.

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Our legend, Kanga

A month before he passed away, John Kennedy Snr experienced the honour of being named a Legend in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Relive this fitting tribute to one of the game's greatest figures.

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Kennedy's men were a force in 1961, dropping just four games for the season.

They overcame Melbourne in their first semi final before trouncing Footscray in the Grand Final a fortnight later. 

"Beating Melbourne in that second semi-final after they had won five of the last six premierships, I felt then we could do it in the Grand Final, no matter who we played," Kennedy said earlier this month.

"When we did win the Grand Final, little children as young as five and older people past 80 were coming up to me and saying thank-you and talking about our premiership and what it meant to them.

"You could see the joy. I thought then that if it can affect those groups, who were so different, in that way, it's something that other pastimes haven't got. I took that memory and I've never lost it.

"As a kid, I just wanted to play football. As I've grown older since that first premiership, the best thing you take out of football is the friends you meet and the memories you make." 

Thank you for the memories, Kanga. We will forever hold them dear.