GUY McKENNA was recruited from the Claremont Football Club ( West Australian Football League ) in 1988 by the West Coast Eagles. He played 267 Games, kicking 28 Goals until his retirement as a player at the completion of the 2000 AFL Season. McKenna was the epitome of the modern Half Back Flanker , who transformed defence into attack with pinpoint disposals to team-mates upfield. He was a superbly balanced athlete who showed spontaneous anticipation to quell opposition forward thrusts, was unruffled by pressures throughout a game and was a very safe and sure contested mark. McKenna was highly durable and missed very few games during his career, due to injury.
Guy McKenna won many honours and awards in his playing career, including:- West Coast Eagles Rookie of the Year Award in 1988 ( also finished Runner-up in the Club Champion Award in the same year ), twice won the Eagles Club Champion Player Award in 1989 and 1999 ( also finished in the Top 3 on 5 other occasions ), won the Eagles Best Clubman Award in 1994, played in the 1992 and 1994 West Coast Eagles Premiership Teams ( also part of the 1991 losing Grand Final side ), was appointed Captain of the Eagles for the 1999 and 2000 Seasons, holds the honour of being the First Eagles Player to play 200 Games for the Club, made 24 Finals appearances for the Eagles, won selection in the 1989 VFL Team of the Year, was appointed Western Australia’s State of Origin Captain in 1996 and 1997, won selection in the All Australian Teams of 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1994, and was inducted to the Australian Football League Hall of Fame in 2009.
Following his retirement as a player, McKenna was enticed by the then Eagles Senior Coach, Michael Malthouse, to accept a role as an Assistant Coach at the Eagles for Seasons 2001 and 2002. He was then appointed Senior Coach at the Claremont Football Club ( West Australian Football League ) for the 2003 and 2004 Seasons. He took over this Club after they had been struggling for some time, and turned the Club’s fortunes around almost immediately. He guided the Club to the 2004 Grand Final, with considerable improvement in all aspects of their game, however Claremont were defeated on the day by a red hot Subiaco Football Club.
Then with 4 Seasons of Coaching experience under his belt, and with former Eagles Coach Michael Malthouse now seeking to add further expertise to his Collingwood Coaching Panel, McKenna accepted an Assistant Coaches role with the Magpies for the 2005 Season. He had a significant impact on Player Development through to the end of the 2008 Season. Flow-on benefits from his input were integral to the success of Collingwood’s 2010 Premiership winning Team.
During 2008, the Australian Football League ruled that a 17th Club ( from the Queensland Gold Coast ), was to enter the AFL Competition from the 2011 Season. This Plan included the need to build a talented playing list of youngsters, who were to play in the Under 18 Years Competition in the 2009 Season, then transfer to Senior Football Competition in the Victorian Football League for the 2010 Season, then complete effective assimilation to the Senior AFL Competition for the 2011 Season. The Gold Coast Suns Board selected Guy McKenna for this demanding Coaching Role from a high quality list of 4 candidates. After the Club’s 2 Development Seasons, the Suns Board had no hesitation in selecting McKenna as their inaugural Senior Coach for their launch into the 2011 AFL Season. McKenna had continued to impress Australian Football followers with his performances in completing the Club’s negotiation through the lower-tier Competitions in the 2009 and 2010 Seasons.
Guy McKenna has now completed a very challenging 2011 AFL Season in charge of the Gold Coast Suns unit, and has continued to respond in a professional and dignified manner. With 3 wins and 19 Losses, a number of close games and some comprehensive defeats, some AFL critics have questioned the Club’s overall performance. When you analyse the steady improvement shown by the majority of the young guns and the accumulating benefits of their exposure to Senior AFL Football, the Gold Coast Suns should be far more competitive in a greater number of games in the 2012 Season.
Guy McKenna, with his incredible Player Lieutenant, Gary Ablett, will demand and expect more , for longer periods of time in each Match, and at the required higher intensity levels, for all games in the upcoming 2012 AFL season. We can expect some surprising wins for the Gold Coast Suns, and trust they can arouse the supporter fraternity to fill all seats at the state of the art Metricon Stadium . Should a Premiership Victory prevail during his reign, we may see a re-naming of the facility to the Guy “Bluey” McKenna Stadium.
UPDATE– 1/10/2014- Guy McKenna has today been sacked as Senior Coach of the Gold Coast Suns.