Top 5 AFL coaches with the most games coached ft. Alan Jeans

2017 AFL Finals Launch
Mick Malthouse at the 2017 AFL Finals Launch

AFL coaches play a pivotal role in the league. Contributing to the overall performance of some impeccable teams, there have been a number of legendary coaches.

Below, we highlight the top five AFL coaches with the most games under their belts, celebrating their devoted careers and significant contributions to the game at large.


Top 5 AFL coaches with the most games coached

5. Tom Hafey (522 Games Coached)

Tom Hafey Portrait Session
Tom Hafey Portrait Session

Tom Hafey began his AFL playing career with the Richmond Tigers in 1953 where he spent three years, winning the 1952 season’s Best and Fairest award.

In 1966, he kickstarted his coaching career which would culminate in his becoming a successful AFL coach with one of the longest tenures. He coached the Tigers through four VFL premierships and saw Collingwood, Geelong, and Sydney to 138, 66, and 70 games respectively.

Hafey was named coach of Richmond's Team of the Century in 1998 and won the "Coaching Legend Award of the AFL Coaches’ Association in 2011. At the end of his career, he had coached 522 games.


4. Alan Jeans (575 Games Coached)

St Kilda Training Session
St Kilda Training Session

Alan Jeans began his career as an AFL coach with St Kilda in 1961, after a distinguished four-year playing career with the same from 1955 to 1959.

As coach, Jeans led St Kilda to their first and only VFL before quitting the team in 1976 due to burn-out.

He resumed coaching in 1981 at Hawthorn, where he led the Hawks to three premierships in 1983, 1986, and 1989. He had a brief 22-game stint as Richmond's coach in 1992.

Over his career, he coached a total of 575 games. Jeans was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.


3. Kevin Sheedy (678 Games Coached)

AFL Rd 12 - Melbourne v Brisbane
AFL Rd 12 - Melbourne v Brisbane

Kevin Sheedy began his AFL playing career at Richmond in 1967, where he played 251 games and won three premierships.

Embarking on his next career journey as an AFL coach, he became one of the most iconic figures in the league's history. From 1981 to 2007, Sheedy coached Essendon in 634 games, including four premierships (1984, 1985, 1993, and 2000).

He would become the first coach of the GWS Giants, steering them through their early seasons. On September 1, 2013, Sheedy coached his 678th and final VFL/AFL game in Round 23 of the season.


2. Jock McHale (714 Games Coached)

NAB Cup Quarter Final 2 - Collingwood v Sydney
NAB Cup Quarter Final 2 - Collingwood v Sydney

As the AFL coach with the second-highest number of games coached (for Collingwood alone), Jock McHale’s entire career extended from 1903 to 1949.

McHale began coaching in 1912, serving as a captain-coach, before becoming a full-time coach in 1918.

McHale's legacy includes coaching the Magpies through eight VFL premierships, including a record four consecutive titles from 1927 to 1930. In his 38 years as AFL coach, he oversaw 714 games. In honor of his contribution to the league, the annual AFL premiership coach award was named after him.


1. Mick Malthouse (718 Games Coached)

2017 AFL Finals Launch
2017 AFL Finals Launch

After his playing career which began in St. Kilda in 1972 and ended at Richmond in 1983, Malthouse began his career as an AFL coach with Footscray almost immediately in 1984.

In his first coaching stint, he laid out his fundamental coaching philosophy, reiterating that his plans were fully team-oriented, with an emphasis on team rather than individual performances.

His dedication to his professionalism in the role was impressive. He left the club in 1989 after 135 games due to some financial struggles that they encountered.

Malthouse went on to become head coach of the West Coast Eagles at the end of the 1989 season. He led the Eagles in 243 games and their first two AFL premierships in 1992 and 1994, and retired from the club after a decade in 1999.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire recruited Malthouse as a replacement for former coach Tony Shaw in 2000. Malthouse stayed with the Magpies until 2011, coaching the club through 286 games, including the finals in eight seasons and grand final appearances in 2002, 2003, 2010, 2011, and their 15th VFL/AFL premiership in 2010.

Malthouse became the senior coach of the Carlton Blues on September 11, 2012, where he would serve for the next three seasons, and in 2015, break the long-standing record for the most VFL/AFL senior games coached. He ended his career with 718 games coached over 31 seasons.

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