Leigh Matthews

Infobox afl player NEW
playername = Leigh Matthews
fullname = Leigh Raymond Matthews
image capt = Statue of Leigh Matthews outside the MCG

birthdate = Birth date and age|1952|3|1|df=y
birthplace = Frankston, Victoria
originalteam = Chelsea Football Club
heightweight = 178cm / 86kg
position = Forward (retired)
dead = alive
deathdate =
deathplace =
years = 1969-1985
clubs = AFL Haw
games(goals) = 332 (915)
coach = coach
coachyears = 1986-1995
coachclubs = AFL Col
coachgames(wins) = 224 (125)
223 (136)
nationalyears = 1991-2007
nationalteams =
nationalgames(goals) = 0 (0)
statsend = Round 8, 2008
careerhighlights =

*Australian Football Hall of Fame: Legend (1996, inaugural), Player of the Century
*AFL Team of the Century: Forward Pocket
*VFLPA MVP Award: 1982
**Award renamed in Matthews' honour: 2002
*VFL Leading Goalkicker: 1975
*All-Australian Team: 1972
*Premierships (8)
**as player: Hawthorn 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983
**as captain: Hawthorn 1983
**as coach: Collingwood 1990; Brisbane Lions 2001-03
*Victorian Captain: 1980
*Victorian Representative: 14 occasions
*Hawthorn Team of the Century: Rover
*Hawthorn Best and Fairest (8): 1971-72, 1974, 1976-78, 1980, 1982
*Hawthorn Captain: 1981-1985
*Hawthorn Leading Goalkicker (6): 1973, 1975, 1981-84

Leigh Raymond "Lethal Leigh" Matthews AM (born 1 March 1952) is a former player and coach of Australian rules football. He played for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League (now Australian Football League) from 1969 to 1985, coached Collingwood from 1986-1995, and coached the Brisbane Lions from 1999 to 2008. As a player he was voted the "Best player of the 20th century", and is one of the most successful AFL coaches of all time. [ [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/25/1064083127334.html?from=storyrhs Real Footy: 'Lethal' on verge of code's elite level] ] . In 2008, Matthews was named as the second greatest Australian Football's greatest ever player, behind Wayne Carey, as part of a list of the top 50 players of all time, published in the book 'The Australian Game of Football', which was released by the AFL to celebrate 150 years of Australian Football. [cite web|url=http://www.afl.com.au/tabid/208/Default.aspx?newsid=55909|title=Mike Sheahan's top 50 players]

Playing career

Early career

Matthews played his junior football at the Chelsea Football Club, and joined Hawthorn at the age of sixteen, having already played senior suburban football. Part of a footballing family, Matthews' brother Kelvin had played 155 games at Hawthorn and Geelong Matthews made his senior debut for the Hawks in 1969, winning the club's Best First Year Player award, despite playing only five senior games in the season. By 1970, Matthews had earned a regular place in the team as a rover rotating forward.


In 1971, Matthews established himself as one of the league's elite players, earning his first of fourteen Victorian guernseys, his first of eight Hawthorn Best and Fairest awards, and his first of four playing premiership medallions, at an age of only nineteen. Throughout the remainder of the 1970s, Matthews won five more Best and Fairests (1972, 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1978), and two more premiership medallions (1976, 1978). Matthews prowess as a goalkicker grew through the 1970s. Matthews topped the Hawthorn goalkickers' table twice (1973, 1975) in the 1970s, and was the league's leading goalkicker in 1975, scoring 68 goals; while this was an unusually low tally, it was a rare result for a non-full forward to lead the competition. In 1977, he scored 91 goals, which was the record for goals kicked by a non-full forward (broken in 1990 by Peter Daicos from Collingwood, where Matthews was then coaching).


In 1980, Matthews was selected as the captain of the Victorian State of Origin team for the only time in his career, and he won his seventh club Best and Fairest. In 1981, he became the captain of Hawthorn, a position he held until his retirement in 1985.

Matthews was the club leading goalkicker four times in a row from 1981 until 1984. He won the Best and Fairest for the eighth time in 1982, the same year winning the VFL Players' Association's inaugural Most Valuable Player award. In 1983, Matthews would win his fourth premiership medallion, his last as a player.

In 1982, Leigh Matthews famously broke a behind post at Windy Hill. A piece of the post (measuring about one metre) broke off, hitting the boundary umpire, after Leigh ran into its base. It is believed that, to comply with a VFL directive, groundsmen at Windy Hill had glued an extension to the top of the post, which broke loose after Matthews collided with it.


The 1985 season was Matthews' last. During the season his forearm struck Geelong player Neville Bruns in an off-the-ball incident, breaking Bruns' jaw. No report was laid because video review facilities were then unavailable. However, after much public outcry, the VFL launched an investigation and subsequently deregistered Matthews for four weeks. He was also charged by the police and fined $1000 - this was a major factor in his retirement. Matthews 332nd and final game was the 1985 Grand Final loss to Essendon.

Upon retirement, Matthews had scored 915 goals, which remains the highest tally by a non-full forward. At the time of his retirement, it was the fourth-highest tally by any player; since surpassed three times, he is now seventh all-time. Matthews also accrued 202 Brownlow Medal votes in his career, the third-most of all-time, and most by a player who has not won the award.

Coaching career


Following his retirement, Matthews turned to coaching, immediately taking the head coaching job at the Collingwood Football Club. He coached 224 games in ten seasons with the Magpies. Under his guidance, Collingwood won one premiership, in 1990, Matthews' fifth premiership medallion, and for which he would later be retrospectively awarded one of his four Jock McHale Medals. In that Grand Final, Collingwood beat Essendon, ending the 32-year premiership drought generally referred to as "the Colliwobbles." Matthews was sacked as Collingwood coach after the 1995 season following an unsuccessful season finishing 10th .

Brisbane Lions

After three years, Matthews was coaxed out of retirement by the struggling Brisbane Lions, who had won the 1998 wooden spoon. Matthews impact at the Lions was immediate, lifting the team from sixteenth to fourth in 1999, and making the finals again in 2000.

In 2001, Matthews famously used the Predator quote "If it bleeds, we can kill it," to inspire his team for its Round 10 game against Essendon, who sat atop the ladder, was the defending premier, and had lost only two of its previous thirty-four games; Brisbane finished as 28 point victors. Throughout the remainder of the season, the Lions were undefeated, eventually meeting and once again defeating Essendon in the Grand Final for their sixteenth consecutive win. The winning streak would eventually end at twenty games when they were defeated by the West Coast Eagles in early 2003

Matthews guided the Lions to four consecutive Grand Finals, including triumphs over Collingwood in 2002 and 2003, and losing to Port Adelaide in 2004. These wins gave Matthews his total of eight premiership medallions. In 2007, he coached his 200th game with the club, making him the first person to play or coach 200 games with three different clubs.

Matthews' coaching style at the Lions was reportedly incredibly strict, although obviously successful. Despite his four premierships as a coach, Matthews never coached a team to the minor premiership.Matthews resigned from his position as Brisbane coach on September 1, 2008 stating that he "felt the time was right". [ [http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,24273690-23211,00.html Foxsports: Lethal leaves Lions] ] [ [http://afl.com.au/News/NEWSARTICLE/tabid/208/Default.aspx?newsId=66743 AFL.com: End of era at the Lions] ]

Post-Career Honours

Matthews was named "Player of the Century," inducted as an inaugural official Legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, the highest individual honour which can be bestowed upon a football personality. He was also named in both the AFL and Hawthorn Teams of the Century, in the forward pocket for the AFL and as rover for Hawthorn.

In 2002, the AFLPA MVP award, of which Matthews was the inaugural recipient, was renamed the Leigh Matthews Trophy.

Outside Football

Before coaching the Brisbane Lions, Leigh Matthews made several media appearances as guest commentator.His celebrity status in both Melbourne and Brisbane has seen him become the face of Devine Homes, a residential development company based in Brisbane with projects in Melbourne and AdelaideHe has now returned to do guest commentating. He Commentated the 2008 finals plus the 2008 grand final.


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