Retired Australian Rules Football Player
Known by the name Woosha, John Worsfold was one of the finest players to have ever played for West Coast Football Club.
Born on September 25, 1968, John Richard Worsfold was an Australian Rules player. Despite his great performances as a player, he earned his fame as a coach of exceptional calibre. Worsfold started his playing career with Fremantle Football Club and played in West Australian Football League just for one season from 1986 to 1987. In 1986 when West Coast football club was formed, Worsfold was on the inaugural list. He started playing for West Coast in 1987 and retired in 1998. After retirement, he picked up the position of Assistant Coach for Carlton football team and served for 1 year from 2000 to 2001. West Coast appointed Worsfold as senior coach by the end of 2001 seasons and that is when he earned his fame as one of the greatest coaches West Coast ever had.
John Worsfold started his playing career with South Fremantle football club because he was within the recruitment zone of the club. During his initial days, he was a member of the underage teams. He was a part of the under-18 teams of the club that won the Teal Cup in 1985. His senior debut for the team came in 1986 when he played for Fremantle in West Australian Football League. In his debut season, Worsfold played a total of 19 games. The Daily News awarded him with the Rookie of the Year award. In 1985, he won ‘Player of the Future’ award and in the following year, he won the ‘Best First Year Player’ award.
The 32-man inaugural squad of West Coast Eagles included Worsfold’s name in October 1986. In 1987 season, Worsfold made his senior debut for West Coast in round 4 and played against Carlton. That season he played both for West Coast and for South Fremantle. He played a total of 11 games for West Coast and 5 for South Fremantle.
In 1988, John Worsfold played all but two games for West Coast. He missed two games because of suspensions in rounds 9 and 10. However, he went on to win Club Champion Award and also won the Best and Fairest award of West Coast by beating Guy McKenna with a margin of 10 votes. He also won 5 votes for Brownlow Medal but did not really win the Medal. In 1988, he actually played the finals match but despite his leading performance for West Coast, the team eventually lost to Melbourne by two points.
The following two seasons were pretty similar for John Worsfold except that in 1989 he was appointed the vice-captain of the team before the season started. When the club lost to Collingwood in qualifying final, the then captain Steve Malaxos was dropped and Worsfold replaced him for preliminary finals. Prior to being appointed as captain, Worsfold played as a midfielder but after he was appointed captain, he moved to halfback flank in 1991. In 1991, West Coast lost the Grand Final against Hawthorn under Worsfold’s captaincy but in 1992 and 1994 seasons, West Coast went on to win the Grand Finals under Worsfold’s leadership. At the end of 1998 season, Worsfold declared his retirement. He held his captaincy role until his retirement and played a total of 209 matches for the club, kicking a total of 38 goals.
By the end of 1999 season, John Worsfold declared that he was willing to become a coach. Fremantle and West Coast both offered him full-time assistant coaching position. A situation came up where it was though the he may end up coaching Geelong. He was interviewed for Hawthorn’s coaching position but was eventually not selected. Finally, he became an assistant coach of Carlton on a 3-year contract. In an interesting turn of events, Worsfold was asked to coach Carlton for defence and was also asked to devise the kick-in strategy for the team. He fulfilled his three-year contract with Carlton but he was, in the meantime, approached by different clubs for senior coaching positions that included Fremantle and West Coast. He eventually picked up the coaching role with West Coast. In three consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2004, the club was kicked out the competition from early finals but in 2005, Worsfold took the team to the Grand Final where West Coast eventually lost to Sydney Swans by 4 points. The following season, he led the team to a premiership victory. He continued to coach the team until 2013. He coached West Coast for 281 games with 149 wins, 130 losses and 2 draws.
Awards And Achievements
John Worsfold was both a skilled player and a skilled coach. Throughout his playing and coaching careers, he earned several awards and achievements, which are briefly mentioned below:
- 1986: Best First Year Player of South Fremantle and Rookie of the Year in WAFL.
- 1988: Best and Fairest of West Coast.
- 1991-1998: Captain of West Coast.
- 1992 and 1993: Western Australia Captain.
- 1992 and 1994: Member of premiership teams of West Coast.
- 1993 and 1998: Best Clubman of West Coast.
- 2004: Inducted into West Australian Football Hall of Fame.
- 2006: Premiership coach for West Coast.
- 2006: All-Australian coach.
- 2006 and 2011: Winner of AFLCA Coach of the Year Award.
Worsfold is one of the finest players and coaches of AFL and his contributions to the game both as a player and as a coach will always be remembered.