Luke Beveridge doesn’t remember many of his games well, but his debut sticks in his mind for two reasons.

“I couldn’t get near it. The ball whizzed around so quickly I thought it’s beyond me this level. At one stage the runner came out to me and patted me on the back for laying a shepherd so that’s how well I was going.”

The Western Bulldogs Premiership Coach made his VFL senior debut for Melbourne as an 18-year-old against Carlton on this day in 1989.
At the time, Beveridge didn’t receive a base salary and he recalled his delight in the rooms after the game when handed an envelope.

“$30 the win and $15 the loss at Under 19 level, it was $200 a win and $100 a loss at VFL level. At senior level it was $1,000 a win and nothing if you lost. Essentially, I was playing for nothing each week if we lost!”

Beveridge went on to play 12 games for Melbourne in his debut season and told the Breakfast Club he was emotionally drained by the end of it, with the Dees winning 10 games by 15 points or less.

Growing up in East Bentleigh, Trevor Barker was Beveridge’s childhood hero but he later switched allegiances and followed Collingwood as Peter Daicos became his second idol, the same club where his grandfather played in four premierships in the late 1920s.

In a demonstration of his love for history and family, Beveridge says “we all feel very proud of what he was able to achieve in that machine era.

“It was an amazing period of dominance. Those teams had to struggle through the depression.”

After leaving the Demons in 1992, Beveridge played for the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda, before moving to Frankston for 2 years in the then-VFA and then St Bedes in the VAFA.

“It was only I went down and helped St Bedes through a preseason that I thought the only way I can really help is to take the reins (as senior coach). It was purely form trial and error and implementing my ideas.”

Beveridge says to be a senior coach you have to be able to speak publicly and once he figured that he could “string a few words together” he was able to experiment with his philosophies about the game at amateur level. He famously took St Bedes to C, B and A Grade premierships in consecutive seasons, a remarkable feat in the VAFA.

“I still have an extreme passion for the game. I love helping people. I started to explore what the possibilities might be at the higher levels.”

Having been exposed to the storytelling of John Northey and Stan Alves as a player, Beveridge admits his own coaching has been influenced by such portrayals.

“The new generation love adventure and escapism. They like for you to take the pressure out of it a fraction and give them an angle that makes them feel differently about themselves and the team.”

“It’s my personality. I like a laugh. I like adventure and literature.”

They were different eras but balance remains an important part of the equation for an AFL player, according to Beveridge.
Could Luke Beveridge the coach have helped Luke Beveridge the player?

“I trained hard, I got a hell of a lot out of myself but I think if I played in the modern era, I would really benefit from the intimate coaching, the technical aspect that a midfield coach might give me around stoppage play and where to run on spread, and the turnover game, and where the twilight is in the game and how to manage your energy levels.”

You can listen to the interview here