Win by Name, Win by Nature

The AFL Grand Final has been run and won for another year, with the Melbourne Demons ending a 57-year premiership drought with a 74-point win over the Western Bulldogs. The win continues the recent trend in teams with the lower jumper number total winning on the last Saturday in September.

Their coach, Simon Goodwin, became the latest recipient of the Jock McHale Medal. The Jock McHale Medal was first awarded in 2001, but the AFL has retrospectively awarded the medal to each premiership coach since 1950. Prior to 1950, the award was known as the Premiership coach’s medal.

Goodwin becomes the 33rd recipient of the Jock McHale Medal. Eighteen coaches have won multiple Jock McHale Medals, with the great Norm Smith (6) having won the most.

Goodwin also won two flags as a player for Adelaide in 1997 and 1998, becoming the 28th person to win a Grand Final as both a player and a coach. An additional 22 individuals have won at least one AFL premiership as Captain-Coach, the last being Alex Jesaulenko in 1979.

But how many other good wins does Simon Goodwin have?

Let’s take a look at how players with “win” in their name have performed on the football field.

Most Wins by an AFL Player with “Win” in their name

Name Games Wins Win % Biggest Winning Margin
Simon Goodwin 275 155 56.36 138
Nicky Winmar 251 120 47.81 131
Ollie Wines 182 108 59.34 115
Warwick Irwin 229 96 41.92 190
Chad Wingard 194 95 48.97 115
Winston Abraham 110 68 61.82 104
Jason Winderlich 129 53 41.09 99
Ron McEwin 77 53 68.83 105
Bill Windley 129 53 41.09 70
Vince Irwin 78 49 62.82 82

The table above lists the top 10 “win”-containing players, ranked by their total number of wins during their playing career.

We can see that Simon Goodwin has the most wins to date. However, Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard have the best chance of taking this record, needing another 48 and 61 wins respectively. At the time of writing Wines has just turned 27 while Wingard is 28. It will be interesting to see if either player can win enough games during the remainder of their career to knock Goodwin off the top of the table.

Goodwin’s Crows biggest win was 138 points, which is the second highest winning margin for a player on the list. Warwick Irwin had 36 disposals and kicked 5 goals in Round 17 of 1979, when Fitzroy beat Melbourne by 190 points.

But raw wins aren’t the whole story—we can also look at win percentage. Although Goodwin has the most wins, his win percentage of 56.36% puts him seventh when you consider players who have played at over 50 games. Of the “win”-containing players who racked up more than 50 games, Ron McEwin won just under 69% of games he played for Essendon between 1948 and 1952.

I chose the 50 game cut-off to prevent players who only played in a very small number of successful games influencing the rankings too much. For those who are interested, here’s some of players that really changed the win percentage rankings:

A complete list of “win”-containing players, sorted by win percentage, is available here.

With respect to coaches with “win” in their name, the list is much shorter. In fact, it’s a very exclusive club with only two members.

The first is obviously Simon Goodwin, who has 62 wins from his 112 games in charge of Essendon and Melbourne (win percentage: 55.36%). Goodwin coached Essendon in the final game of the 2013 season after James Hird was suspended as a result of the Essendon supplements saga.

The other is Mick Erwin, the man who replaced Tom Hafey as the Collingwood coach after Hafey was sacked in 1982. With Erwin at the helm, Collingwood managed to win just three of 12 games.

Here’s Goodwin’s final record as a player and coach (after the 2021 Grand Final):

Career Games Wins Win %
Player 275 155 56.36
Coach 112 62 55.36
Total 387 217 56.07

From a win/loss perspective, Goodwin’s record as a coach is almost consistent with when he was a player.

Melbourne fans will be hoping for a period of ongoing success to keep pushing Goodwin’s coaching win percentage up, and that he becomes the 19th member of the multiple Jock McHale Medal winners club.

As always, apologies to anyone who has already presented these stats.