Dual premiership coach Denis Pagan never thought John Longmire, the player, fit the coaching “mould”.
“He was quietly spoken,” Pagan said. “He was an intelligent footballer, very determined and always put the team first.
“But did I ever think he’d become a senior coach? Probably not.”
Longmire spent six seasons of his 11-year playing career under Pagan, enough time for the Kangaroos’ Team of the Century coach to peel back the layers on the man known as “Horse”.
Pagan might not have seen it at the time but Longmire, who formed a formidable forward partnership with Wayne Carey during the 90’s, unearthed traits which many of today’s coaches possess.
Quietly spoken, maybe, but when Longmire did speak everyone was all ears such was the man’s influence.
His thunderous voice is unmistakable and hard to ignore standing on the sidelines during the Swans’ training at Lakeside Oval.
Just imagine its influence within a half-time huddle during a close game at the SCG, or back in the day when the 511-goal forward was leading out from the square during the height of North Melbourne’s powers.
“He was a great mentor,” Pagan added. “I don’t know what approach he has taken in his coaching…but everyone admired him.”
As results have proven, Longmire’s approach has worked a treat with the 99-game coach guiding the club to the 2012 premiership.
Along with another grand final appearance he has also won the AFLPA Alan Jeans Senior Coach of the Year Award twice (2012 and 2014).
His achievements haven’t come without serious hard work and strength of character likely forged, as Pagan suggested, during his injury-wrecked end to his playing days.
Longmire missed the Roos’ 1996 flag after suffering a knee injury which required a full reconstruction and more than 12 months on the sidelines. He would eventually return and limp through three seasons as a defender, retiring immediately after the 1999 premiership.
“He showed so much guts and determination when his body was giving up on him,” Pagan said.
“He probably thought he’d never get the chance to play in a premiership. I was so happy for him.
“Everything he has achieved at the Swans is a feather in his cap…he’s done a wonderful job.”
Pagan believes earning the respect of the playing group is one of the most important qualities a senior AFL coach can have and Longmire demands just that.
Not only after everything Longmire has endured and achieved, but by the way he has continued and ultimately championed the Swans’ renowned “Bloods culture” set down by his predecessor Paul Roos.
“John earns the respect of everyone he comes in contact with,” Pagan added.
Longmire will line up for game 100 as senior coach against the Bombers, a feat which will elevate him to 34th spot on the all-time list of games coached.
He will share the mantle with former Fremantle head Mark Harvey who, funnily enough, will sit in the neighbouring box at ANZ Stadium this afternoon.
For his entire career Longmire has put the team first which was on display when he turned the mid-week attention on his troops and a strong round one performance
"It's not about the coach," he said.
It has been a fair journey for Longmire, the player and now established coach. One moulded around respect, determination and speaking louder with actions rather than words.