President Jeff Kennett has penned the following letter to members...


Hi there friends,

I thought I would write to you about the privilege that was extended by the Kennedy Family to our coach Alastair Clarkson and myself, to attend the funeral of John Kennedy Snr yesterday. I know many of you will have watched it via the webcast.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place here in Victoria, only 50 people were permitted to attend the church service. The 50 people comprised of John’s family and friends.

Having attended Dulcie Kennedy’s funeral at the same church two years ago, which is in fact a Basilica within the Catholic Church, and which was attended by hundreds of mourners, it was a strange feeling to walk into such a large church, with so few mourners.

Ironic, on one hand so many members and others wishing they could have attended, but so few allowed. However, ‘The Coach’ had expressed the desire to his family that when the time came, he wanted a small funeral. He got his wish, as always!

It was a celebration of The Coach’s life. With family being very much at the core of his being. Closely followed by his faith. Not only was John baptised at yesterday’s Basilica, but he was, along with Dulcie, a regular attendee on Sundays.

A very private person, apart from when motivating his various football teams, The Coach not only had a profound impact on the lives of his children and grandchildren, but also all those he came to lead inside and outside football.

I described John recently as a gentle giant, he was all of that and more.

Patrick and John Kennedy Jnr both spoke of the impact and priorities of their father’s life on their and their children’s lives.

David Parkin spoke of the influence The Coach had on so many people. I recently had a call from a former player at another club, who was coached for some years by John Kennedy, who said he was not sure he learnt much about football, but he learnt a great deal about life.

Also invited to the service where the captains of the three Premierships John Kennedy coached: Graham Arthur (1961) and Don Scott (1971/1976). Many players of those teams lined the road as the coffin left the Basilica.

I have met many people in my life, in Australia and internationally, and I can honestly say, I can think of only one other person, who was an influential in their chosen community, had the same unchallengeable personal values, and was as humble as John.

The Coach lived a long life. A full life, a wonderful life. He set a standard none of us will reach. 

We were fortunate to have known him, that he played and coached at Hawthorn, that he by his example created so much of the culture that underlines our Family Club today.

John would not want our sympathy at his passing, but we can honour his life by attempting to live up to his standards and values.

The Coach has left us physically, but as his daughter Maureen said at the service, “He will live with us forever”, and he will always be a big part of Hawthorn.

Stay well my friends,