Career: Circa 1955
Senior Premiership: 1955
Former Tasmanian John Coughlan made his appearance as a 20-year-old centre-half-forward with special abilities in Chelsea’s much lauded ‘55 Premiership team.
Destined for greater things, he was soon at VFA club Oakleigh and was appointed captain at the age of 22. It was an inspired move by the Club’s hierarchy.
Playing a pivotal role in attack, ‘Coggo’ had an equally talented and flamboyant vice-captain, Milne McCook, positioned at centre-half-back. The two were interchangeable and seemed to have such presence that the games revolved around them. They were both outstanding players with the ability to change the style of games to suit their team. If a fast flowing, skilful game suited they would comply; if rough stuff was more effective they would approach it with relish. The success of the team was paramount and any tactics were legitimate.
But, as good as he was on the ground, Coughlan handled his off-field duties with even greater flair, causing him to become a wonderful favourite with the media and a personality that was much loved by the public, who suddenly became very aware of VFA football.
The introduction of direct telecasts of Sunday football gave the producers the opportunity to promote the game through the bubbling personality of this player, who would bare his soul on the screen, making passionate and sometimes outrageous comments about the football that had and would be played. Life was a game for ‘Coggo’ and he played it hard but joyfully.
Having made an enormous impact on mainland Victorian football, he returned to the Apple Isle in 1962 and took up the role of Captain/Coach of Wynyard for seven years. But controversy remained close, as a nail biting Grand Final saw Wynyard supporters remove a point post from the ground just as an opposition player was about to take a premiership-deciding kick post-siren. The game remained undecided and the flag was never presented. Coggo’s side didn’t win that flag but they didn’t lose it either! Whether he played any role in the incident remains unknown.
Sadly, this wonderful character passed away suddenly from a blood clot on the lungs in 1991.