Luke Beveridge had an unconventional start on his journey to be an AFL coach, but he’s served an apprenticeship under the best in the game.
Mick Malthouse and Alastair Clarkson are the only coaches still active to have masterminded three premierships – and Beveridge has worked for both.
Prior to his role as player development manager under Malthouse at Collingwood, Beveridge took St Bede’s/Mentone to three successive premierships in the Victorian Amateur Football Association, from C- all the way through to A-Grade.
That feat was unprecedented in Victorian amateur footy.
With the knock on his Bulldogs predecessor Brendan McCartney being his difficulties communicating with his players, the Dogs’ board will be relieved to hear testimonials like the one from St Bede’s skipper Luke Wintle.
Wintle told The Herald Sun that Beveridge had been instrumental in turning the club’s fortunes around after they were relegated to C division in 2005.
“He started with a re-brand and trademarks and basically got everyone paddling the same way,” he said.
“He built such good relationships with everyone.”
Beveridge believes his approach enables people to realise their potential.
“My natural empathy towards people has paved the way for strong workplace relationships and flow-on productivity gains,” he wrote on his LinkedIn profile.
As a player Beveridge was an undersized rover/forward (just 173cm tall), beloved by his teammates for throwing himself into contests.
The grandson of former Collingwood premiership player Jack Beveridge, he played 118 games, booting 107 goals for Melbourne, Footscray (now the Western Bulldogs) and St Kilda.
After his stint with St Bede’s he was appointed coach of TAC Cup side Sandringham Dragons, but never made it there after Collingwood came knocking and he was made their development manager.
His Bulldogs job echoes that appointment: he had accepted a role with St Kilda to be their director of coaching, but his trip to Seaford has now taken a detour past the Whitten Oval.
According to Beveridge, his job at Collingwood was to build “capability into the playing list and other responsibilities relating to developing the club’s pathway talent”.
Certainly, success has a habit of following Beveridge around – after his VAFA flags, he saw a premiership at Collingwood in his final year there and then back-to-back triumphs with the Hawks under Clarkson.
His resume suggests he is made of the right stuff, but the Dogs job is surely one of the toughest in footy.
Since Rodney Eade took them into three successive preliminary finals, the Dogs have been in free fall – finishing 10th, 15th, 15th and 14th.
As long as I am senior coach, I won’t talk about prospects.
At the press conference to announce his appointment on Friday, Beveridge said he would not try to predict an improvement in those fortunes.
“As long as I am senior coach, I won’t talk about prospects,” he said.
“We’ll be trying to explore how far we can go and doing everything we can to get to where we’d like to go.”
It’s been 60 years since Charlie Sutton took the cup out west, and many good men have been undone by the task of trying to emulate him (Whitten, Hart, Malthouse, Wallace and Eade to name but a few).
We wish him well.