LEGEND – Coach Inductee
Sandy Bay/Essendon/Clarence/Fitzroy/Adelaide/Tasmania/Tassie Mariners/Fremantle, 1972-2008
> 51 games, 8 goals, Essendon, 1974-81
> Essendon Escort Cup (night) premiership, 1981
> Coached Clarence for 45 games, 1984-85
> Clarence premiership, 1984
> Assistant coach, Essendon, 200 games, 1986-88 and 1999-2004
> Essendon premiership, 2000
> Assistant coach, Fitzroy, 44 games, 1989-90
> Coached Fitzroy, 86 games for 28 wins, 1991-94
> Coached Adelaide, 44 games for 17 wins, 1995-96
> Coached Tasmanian state teams (6 games), including 1990 State of Origin victory over Victoria
> Coached Tassie Mariners, 20 games, 1998
> Manager Football Operations, Fremantle, 2006-08
> Named as assistant coach in Tasmania’s ‘Team of the Century’
Robert Shaw boasts an imposing record as a coach, having begun his playing career with Sandy Bay in the 1970s. He has been on Essendon’s coaching panel since 1999, in charge of the defenders, and has spent over 20 years coaching at the top level.
Robert Shaw came to Essendon’s U19s from Sandy Bay in Tasmania in 1973. He was a long left-foot kick with pace enough to keep up with the fastest forwards. He was also a fierce competitor with a tough, rugged style. Unfortunately his career was hampered by injuries, the worst being serious knee injuries in both 1974 and 1977. Despite these setbacks, Shaw won Essendon’s best clubman award in 1978 and was full back in their 1981 night premiership team. He also represented Tasmania in State of Origin games in 1979 and 1980.
Shaw became a career coach after chronic injuries forced his retirement. He began as skills coach at Essendon in 1983, then became captain-coach of Clarence in Tasmania in 1984 and 1985. He coached the Tasmanian state side in 1988 at the last Australian National Carnival and also led a famous State of Origin victory over Victoria at North Hobart Oval in 1990.
Shaw returned to Essendon to become assistant coach and coach of the Reserves in 1986. He later moved on to coach Fitzroy from 1991 to 1994, and then Adelaide from 1995 to 1996. After another stint at Essendon as assistant coach to Kevin Sheedy between 1999 and 2005, he served as Fremantle’s General Manager of Football Operations for three years between 2006 and 2008.
Shaw was appointed as the senior coach of Fitzroy in 1991 and, despite the adverse financial situation at Fitzroy, was considered to have been successful in making the Lions competitive. With limited resources he was able to develop many young players into high quality AFL footballers. Tactically astute, he never had the depth of playing talent to win many games, but was able to draw out the best from his playing group to be highly competitive.
Shaw was subsequently recruited to Adelaide as head coach for the 1995 and 1996 seasons. While his win-loss record improved to 38% he was unable to lead the Crows into the finals. However, his work helped lay the foundations that led to the Crows winning two memorable premierships in the following years.
As the coach of Tasmania, Robert Shaw had the opportunity to lead his home state in the last period of State of Origin football. Shaw was full of passion for the task and was also ruthlessly honest in appraising the capacity of players to represent Tasmania. He may have loved some of the talented rogues, but was known for being hard but fair with all players under his charge.
Robert Shaw will be remembered for his achievement in leading Tasmania to victory over Victoria in State of Origin football, and for his premiership success in Tasmania and Victoria. He was selected in the Tasmanian Team of the Century in 2004 as an assistant coach to none other than Roy Cazaly, and was an inaugural inductee in the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.