AFL: Swans final a reward for coach who works 24/7

John Longmire was this week named coach of the year by the AFL Coaches Association. Photo / Getty
John Longmire was this week named coach of the year by the AFL Coaches Association. Photo / Getty

Meticulous, diligent and analytical are adjectives commonly associated with accountants, but the same three traits helped lift Sydney to the AFL grand final.

"I know what does work and that's working hard for four quarters," Swans coach John Longmire said before his side's preliminary final win against Collingwood.

It's been an effective mantra for Longmire, who this week was named coach of the year by the AFL Coaches Association.

Of all the men to mentor the Swans since South Melbourne relocated to Sydney in 1982, only Tom Hafey has a better win-loss record.

His charges, written off by most as a team capable of making up the numbers in September and little more, find themselves one win away from the highest of highs.

Much has been made of his game plan - a more free-wheeling and expansive approach compared with Paul Roos' Swans - but the countless hours of homework have also played a major part in the Swans' push for a premiership.

"He's almost always first in the office and last to leave," said Swans assistant coach John Blakey, a former teammate of Longmire's at North Melbourne. "That's the type of bloke that he is. You get late-night emails and things like that.

"When things pop up in his mind, he likes to know he's got it covered, and gets on to it straight away."

Things regularly pop into Longmire's mind. He speaks of sleepless nights in January and it's not hard to believe him.

The 41-year-old has high standards and puts the same amount of effort into every task, be it preparing for Greater Western Sydney's unknown aces in round one or working out how to shut down Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin this weekend.

"He's 24/7 ... he's always thinking about what he can do for the group or the club," said Stuart Dew, another of Longmire's assistants at the Swans.

But don't confuse Longmire's detailed approach with that of a micromanager. In the spirit of Roos he's happy to entrust the likes of Blakey and Dew with key jobs.

"Roosy empowered his assistants, and John has gone along those lines, having trust and faith in his assistants," Blakey said. "But they have a different idea of how they want football played ... different game plans."

For Longmire, the hard work started many moons ago, long before he was confirmed as Roos' successor after the 2010 season. It even predates his joining the Swans as an assistant coach to Rodney Eade.

He was the ultimate professional at the Kangaroos in an era when players could play up and get away with it.

"The way he went about preparing himself to play and get his body right after suffering a couple of knee recos was outstanding," Blakey said.

"The meticulous work ethic he showed as a player is the same one he brings as a senior coach.

"He leaves nothing to chance, everything is explored. It's that sort of preparation leading into every game that makes him a great coach."

Longmire fought back from the heartbreak of missing the 1996 grand final through injury to win a premiership in his 1999 swansong.

If success doesn't come today, and the path to the next premiership proves just as treacherous, don't expect him to give up easily.

AFL grand final
Hawthorn v Sydney Swans
MCG, 3.30pm today, live SS2

- AAP

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