Blues coaching great in Gippsland

Liam Durkin

“DON’T think, do!”

AFL legend David Parkin was in Moe recently, passing on the famous words of his Hawthorn coach, John Kennedy, although this time, not through a football lens.

Now an advocate for men’s health, in particular, Prostate Cancer, Parkin came to Moe Racing Club to share his story.

Parkin’s father and grandfather died from Prostate Cancer in their 60s. Because of this, he has got himself tested every year since the age of 40.

Now 80, Carlton’s last premiership coach is counting his lucky stars.

Speaking at an event organised by Moe Rotary, the four-time premiership coach and 1971 Hawthorn premiership captain heard from people with similar experiences dealing with Prostate Cancer.

Known for his animated addresses during his coaching days, Parkin spoke of men’s health with the same sort of passion and emotion.

Parkin said it was great to be able to travel to regional communities to get important conversations started.

“Rotary have this capacity to bring communities together, in fact tonight I couldn’t believe the variety of professions of people that turned up,” he said.

“Twelve/sixteen people started discussions from the audience … (that) never happens, particularly in rural Victoria.

“We’re hoping that men are now finally taking some responsibility for their health, not via their wives or females in their lives, but men are starting to understand they have a responsibility to themselves and their extended families by checking out the things we were talking about tonight.”

Parkin has been a spokesperson for men’s health for a number of years now.

Of course, if you are at an event with the Carlton Coach of the Century, you have to talk a bit of footy.

Parkin said he still watches the game, albeit from a distance.

“I love it, I must admit, I like it now because they’ve gone about saying ‘it doesn’t matter how much they score, we’ll score more’,” he said of the current game.

“A couple of years ago it was ‘it doesn’t matter how little we score as long as they score less’.

“We’ve gone the other way now, and the rule changes, I’ll give him his due, Hocking (Steve Hocking), did a terrific job (introducing six-six-six).

“I hate the idea of one player not being able to participate, but the ball is now going long forward, we’ve increased the percentage of high marks, something like 34 per cent, we’re scoring more heavily – that’s what the game should be about.”

Hearing Parkin talk football, it is amazing how even the best coaches speak about the game in such a simplistic way.

You swear some coaches these days want the scoreboard demolished and games decided by whichever team gets the most statistics.

On the current day Blues, Parkin, believed the team was on the right track.

He also said he was more than ready to pass on the baton as Carlton’s last premiership coach.

“I think they are two or three players still short, but they have almost all elements covered – back, middle, tall and small,” he said.

“Vossy (Carlton coach Michael Voss) was my son’s boss for the last eight years at Port Adelaide, that has been a lovely relationship, and he’s doing a terrific job, he’s a great leader and the club has come together under his leadership.”

While primarily associated with Brisbane, a little-known fact is Voss was actually born in Traralgon.

As a coach of more than 500 AFL games, Parkin rated Essendon great Kevin Sheedy as the toughest he coached against.

Recently, Parkin said he also reached out to former player Brett Ratten after he was sacked as St Kilda coach.

“Brett is struggling with what happened to him, to reappoint him and have the rug pulled out from under you is pretty ordinary,” Parkin said.

Ratten formed part of Carlton’s 1995 premiership coached by Parkin, and the famous Preliminary Final winning team of 1999.

The Blues, rank outsiders to defeat Essendon that day, prevailed by a point.

Despite losing the Grand Final to North Melbourne, Parkin said the 99’ team was just as tight as 95’.

You can’t help but think of some local Grand Final teams that share a similar bond: Wonthaggi 2014, Hill End 2019, or even Sale this year.

For more information on prostate health, visit, or phone 1800 220 099.


Gippsland Farmer

The Gippsland Farmer is a monthly agricultural newspaper reporting on rural news and distributed FREE and direct to an area covering from Cann River through to South Gippsland. For more than 40 years Gippsland Farmer has reported on a range of issues and industries including dairy, beef, vegetables, sheep, goats, poultry, organic farming, and viticulture.