The Woosha way - just grin and win
John Worsfold. Pic: AFL Media

The greatest tribute West Coast can give record-breaking coach John Worsfold on Sunday is to totally ignore his achievement.

Discussing it during the week is taboo. Bringing it up as a motivational tool is a sin. And it would be a huge risk for the cheer squad to address it on the banner as the players may run through it backwards or blindfolded.

Breaking Mick Malthouse's 243-game coaching record is a huge moment in West Coast's history. But captain Darren Glass says the only way the players can honour Worsfold is by respecting his coaching mantra.

"Woosha would hate it if we were to play extra hard in that particular game," Glass said.

"Woosh would be devastated that we didn't do it the week before or that we're not going to do it the week after. We will only go out and give it our best because that's what Woosh asks us to do every week.

"We don't want to specifically get up for one particular game. That's the way he coaches and that's the mentality he instils in his group."

Worsfold's football philosophy has barely changed since arriving as coach in late 2001. The game is played on green grass with four posts at either end. Players should do their best whether it's a NAB Cup match or a grand final.

Grand final day provides people with a stage to write themselves into history and some of the game's most memorable coaching moments have happened on the last Saturday in September.

John Kennedy yelling "don't think, DO!" and Allan Jeans imploring Hawthorn to "pay the price" are part of football folklore.

Alastair Clarkson comparing Geelong to a shark was a highlight in 2008. Famous stories for the biggest stage.

Worsfold was captain under Malthouse, whose inspirational pre-game speech to the Collingwood players was recorded last year. He also worked as an assistant under one of the game's great orators, David Parkin.

But the fire and brimstone which made him famous as a player have been replaced by a calm and methodical coach.

"We're not an inspirational rah-rah sort of team. I can't remember one pre-game speech from him," Glass said.

"When we first get to the ground we have a meeting an hour before the game. He'll run over the last instructions then.

"Nothing fresh comes to the players at that stage unless it's to do with the weather or a late change from the opposition, or a late change by us.

"It's just going over what we've prepared during the week. He's pretty relaxed and lets the players go about their things.

"He understands that some players like to be intense and some like to relax. He's pretty relaxed."

Worsfold started his coaching career under Parkin. The four- times premiership coach had just led the Blues to the 1999 grand final and both Worsfold and Ross Lyon joined his team in 2000.

The pair have remained close and Parkin said Worsfold's leadership and people skills made him the perfect man to coach a football club.

"As a father, as a husband and as a coach, he has a set of principles and values which are exhibited in his behaviours and they are second to none," Parkin said.

"If you're going to build a football club, you do it around quality people. He's one of the better individuals I've had the pleasure to meet and know."

Worsfold has enjoyed enormous success at West Coast, but also battled significant challenges which tested his managerial skills.

He coached former teammates and had to manage their retirements. He led the club through a series of off-field controversies that culminated with Ben Cousins being sacked, then watched the team crash to the 2010 wooden spoon, which put his job on the line.

But he quickly rebuilt the squad and the Eagles are now on top of the ladder. Shannon Hurn said Worsfold stuck by his beliefs when everyone doubted him.

"Woosh had very good values about how he wanted the game to be played and implemented," Hurn said. "But also, his dealings with people around the club, the media and the community are outstanding.

"That's something I've taken away from Woosha - his belief and his work ethic at the club.

"He never gets flustered, he knows what he wants and that's what he keeps believing in. That's the strongest trait for Woosha."

There is a clear aura that surrounds a premiership captain and coach. Only seven men have ever achieved the feat and only three - Parkin at Hawthorn, Geelong's Reg Hickey and Worsfold - have done so at the same club.

Midfielder Matt Rosa joined the Eagles from Victoria with little knowledge about his coach's playing career, having been just 12 when Worsfold retired. But after being handed the famous number 24, former players impressed upon him the significance of the jumper.

Ruckman Nic Naitanui said Worsfold had the unique ability to captivate and inspire people, which left the players hanging off every word.

And midfielder Daniel Kerr said upsetting the coach rarely resulted in a tirade, but that only added to his mystique.

"Because of his presence, he doesn't need to unleash sprays," Kerr said. "His calm voice is almost more intimidating than his loud voice. He gives you that crazy smile and you know you've got to do what he says."

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West