Luke Beveridge's rise to AFL master coach

Success has followed Luke Beveridge as a football coach.
Success has followed Luke Beveridge as a football coach.

Luke Beveridge never forgets where he came from. Nor should he when you consider his rapid ascension to become one of the AFL's greatest coaches.

As a nuggety rover-forward with Melbourne, Footscray and St Kilda, Beveridge failed to get past the second week of finals during a 118-game career that spanned 11 seasons.

But premierships have followed the 51-year-old everywhere he has gone as a coach.

Whether it be with St Bedes Mentone in the Victorian amateurs, to assistant roles at Collingwood and Hawthorn, or now in charge of the Western Bulldogs.

Beveridge has the Bulldogs one win away from securing a second premiership in five seasons, after the club previously went 90 years with just the solitary VFL/AFL flag - back in 1954.

If the Bulldogs are successful against Melbourne in the September 25 grand final, it will be Beveridge's eighth premiership in a coaching journey that began in suburban football back in 2006.

His appointment at the Whitten Oval in late-2014 was far from glitzy but - like Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn a decade earlier - it will go down as one of the more inspired coaching choices.

Beveridge was locked into moving from the Hawks to St Kilda as the Saints' director of coaching for the 2015 season, months before the Bulldogs' top job became vacant.

With the Bulldogs in turmoil following the departure of captain Ryan Griffen and the sacking of coach Brendan McCartney, Beveridge surged into contention.

Paul Roos, who famously coached the Sydney Swans to breaking their own 72-year flag drought in 2005, considers Beveridge's experience as crucial to his success.

"You looked at his pedigree, probably on the surface people said 'who's Luke Beveridge' and then when you looked through his resume, it's such a great footy resume," Roos told AAP.

"Not a high profile (coach) but a lot of IP and he'd done a lot of stuff in footy.

"I don't think it's surprising he's done what he's done and what he's created at the Dogs."

Even when speaking ahead of this year's decider, Beveridge has referenced his time as a humble local coach.

The week's break before a grand final is unique to the AFL, but not to him.

"The two weeks off, I've been here before actually with a couple of teams I've coached (at St Bedes Mentone)," Beveridge said.

"I think the thing is to get your work in and then really build it up in the second week."

It was at St Bedes Mentone where he first began spearheading teams to achieving incredible, unprecedented things.

Beveridge's Tigers created VAFA history, winning three premierships in as many years to secure promotion from C Section to A Section - something that had never been done before.

Tim Lamb, who was an assistant to Beveridge at St Bedes Mentone and is now Melbourne's list manager, knew early on the club was on the verge of something special.

All senior players were taken through an individual video review of their game each week, coming as a pleasant shock to the part-time footballers.

"It was common practice in the AFL, but unheard of at the time at C Grade amateur level," Lamb told AFL Media in 2014 after Beveridge's appointment at the Bulldogs.

"These were people with other things going on in their lives but he still built a club where he was able to get the best out of them as footballers."

It did not take long for the AFL to come calling, with Mick Malthouse adding Beveridge to his Collingwood staff ahead of the 2009 season.

Beveridge fitted in seamlessly as a development coach, with the Magpies breaking through to win the 2010 flag.

He was there for the first two of Hawthorn's premiership three-peat, coaching the Hawks' back-six as defenders Brian Lake and Josh Gibson played crucial roles in the success.

Beveridge has already led the Bulldogs to one of the VFL/AFL's greatest premierships but if he can do it again it would arguably make for the most unlikely duo of flags ever.

"I think we're proud of ourselves because we've won so many games interstate," he said.

"To have won games in most of the states has been brilliant - I love the aspect of our year."


St Bedes Mentone - 2006, 2007, 2008 (Victorian amateurs)

Collingwood (assistant) - 2010

Hawthorn (assistant) - 2013, 2014

Western Bulldogs - 2016

Australian Associated Press