John Ledwidge: a playing and coaching BFNL great

John Ledwidge has been acknowledged as one of the all-time BFNL playing and coaching greats.

He played for both Golden Square and Eaglehawk in premiership seasons and had served as captain-coach at both clubs by his mid-30s.

In a career which spanned 28 seasons John racked up an astonishing 455 games as a player, playing coach  and coach: 185 as a player and 270 as a coach.

During those 28 seasons he captained the side he was playing with nine times.

Along the way he garnered four BFL premierships, the 1962 Victorian country championship for Bendigo and served as Carlton’s area liaison officer from 1980 to 1986.

John had arrived in Bendigo with experience at the top level under his belt. He’d played 40 games (11 goals) for South Melbourne in the old VFL between 1954 and 1958 before taking on the task as Golden Square playing coach in 1959.

In his first BFL years at the Square from 1959-65, he coached for five years stepping down as playing coach at the end of 1963 and captaining the Wade Street Dogs in 1964 and 1965: premiership years.

John then moved out to Canterbury Park and played in, and coached, Eaglehawk’s 1968 premiership team.

After a stint working in the North Central league area John returned to coach Eaglehawk in 1970-71 and led the Hawks to the 1971 flag.

He was senior mentor at Canterbury Park again in 1978-79 and took the Hawks to preliminary finals in both seasons.

Another term was spent as Eaglehawk coach in 1990-91 and again the Two Blues made the preliminary finals in each year.

When Kennington was struggling to find a senior coach in 1993 John stepped into the breech in a voluntary capacity and took charge of the Saints for three months over that summer training period.

He’d received Eaglehawk and BFL life membership in 1979 and was inducted into the BFL Hall of Fame in October 2014.

John had been named Eaglehawk Team of the Century coach in 2005 during the Hawks 125th anniversay season.

He was 84 when he passed on November 24th.

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