Aspley premiership coach and AFL Queensland Hall of Famer John Blair has been appointed coach of the 2015 NEAFL representative team.
Blair, 59, is an icon of Queensland football, having played or coached in 14 Grand Finals since moving to Brisbane in 1981.
Originally from Victoria, he played 33 VFL games across South Melbourne, Fitzroy and St Kilda from 1975-80 before moving north to captain-coach QAFL club Morningside.
A fiercely competitive and creative half-back, Blair was one of the competition’s best players, winning the 1982 Grogan Medal and representing Queensland 19 times through the golden era of the 1980s that laid the foundations for the birth of the Brisbane Bears, of which he was later an assistant coach under Robert Walls.
He also won the Ray Hughson Trophy as the competition’s leading goalkicker twice, with Morningside in 1985 and Zillmere in 1988.
Blair returned to coach Morningside in 2002 where the Panthers reached the Preliminary Final or higher in a staggering nine consecutive years, including seven grand finals for four premierships, and overall coached the Panthers on a league record 328 occasions.
He left Morningside at the end of 2011 and joined Aspley in 2013, taking the Hornets to a NEAFL Grand Final berth in his first season before tasting premiership success against the Sydney Swans last year.
It will be the first time Blair has coached a senior representative side after being an assistant coach for the Queensland Under-18s from 1996-2001, and leading the Queensland Under-21s from 2007-2010 and the NEAFL Northern Conference Under-21s in 2012.
Blair said the challenge of earning respect for the league attracted him to the representative role.
“Last year I don’t think the NEAFL competition showed where we are at throughout Australian football,” he said.
“I just feel we need to get on the right foot and get everyone supporting it and show the rest of Australia it is a pretty good competition.”
The NEAFL played two representative matches last year and lost them both, against the WAFL in Sydney (85 points) and Tasmania in Hobart (41 points).
The NEAFL will take on Tasmania in its only representative match of the year in Brisbane on June 7.
Blair said his representative coaching opportunity had come “earlier than expected” but is looking forward to reversing last year’s disappointing results.
“My allegiance has always been to my club side. But at the same time, if we want credibility for our competition and for the younger kids coming through, then we have to make sure we support it and make it viable for years to come,” he said.
“Our competition embraces two states and two territories and the challenge is getting the players to understand who they represent.
“Our first priority is to get the right result for the competition in this representative match.”
JOHN BLAIR FACT FILE
Date of Birth: March 15, 1955 (age 59)
33 VFL Games (South Melbourne, Fitzroy, St Kilda) 1975-80.
Grogan Medal (QAFL) winner 1982
Ray Hughson Trophy (QAFL) winner 1985, 1988
Windsor-Zillmere (QAFL) premiership captain-coach 1988
Queensland representative on 19 occasions.
Morningside (QAFL) premiership coach 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010
Aspley (NEAFL) premiership coach 2014
Queensland Under-18s assistant coach 1996-2001
Queensland Under-21s coach 2007- 2010.
NEAFL Northern Conference Under-21s coach 2012
Member of the AFLQ Hall of Fame
For more information please contact Jess Webster on 0432 333 705.