181. Chris Fagan

AFL 2001 Media - Melbourne Team Portraits

LEGEND – Overall Contribution Inductee

Hobart/Sandy Bay/Devonport/North Hobart/Tassie
Mariners/Melbourne/Hawthorn/Brisbane Lions, Player/
Coach/Administrator, 1978-2023

95 games for Hobart, 1978-82
96 games for Sandy Bay, 1983-87
38 games for Devonport, 1988-89
17 games for North Hobart, 1990
Hobart TFL premiership, 1980
Devonport TFL Statewide League premiership, 1988
Hobart Best and Fairest, 1981
Sandy Bay Best and Fairest, 1985
Sandy Bay Leading Goalkicker 1983 (51), 1984 (34), 1985 (50)
9 representative games for Tasmania, 1981-86
Tasmanian Teal Cup (U17s) representative, 1978

North Hobart assistant coach, 1991-92 (Premierships 1991, 1992)
Sandy Bay senior coach, 1993-94 (39 Games: 18 Wins, 21 Losses)
Tassie Mariners coach (Tasmania U18s),
1995-97 (57 Games: 23 Wins, 34 Losses)
Melbourne reserves coach, 1998-99
(44 Games: 30 Wins, 13 Losses, 1 Draw)
Melbourne assistant coach, 2000-04 (AFL Grand Final, 2000)
Brisbane Lions senior coach, 2017-2022
(136 Games: 73 Wins, 63 Losses)
Allan Jeans Award (AFLCA Senior Coach of the Year), 2019

Melbourne General Manager of Football Operations, 2005-07
Hawthorn Head of Coaching and Development, 2008-13
Hawthorn General Manager of Football Operations, 2013-16

Name almost any role within the sphere of football, and Chris Fagan has most likely mastered it. From the infamous ‘Gravel’ to the hallowed turf of the MCG and beyond, Fagan has carved out a career both on and off the field that very few can match for longevity or sustained excellence.

Born in 1961, Chris Fagan spent the early part of his life in Queenstown on Tasmania’s west coast, where his father Austin was a noted player and coach with the Smelters, Lyell and Gormanston Football Clubs. After playing with Lyell-Gormanston himself as a junior, young Chris’ first taste of senior football came with TFL side Hobart in 1978, the same season in which he represented Tasmania at the U17 Teal Cup in Adelaide. One of his state’s best players at the carnival, Fagan was invited to trial with VFL club Essendon, however the Bombers opted not to retain him and he returned to Tasmania.

Fast, elusive and possessing both a sharp football brain and keen eye for goal, Fagan quickly developed into one of the premier rover/forwards in the TFL, and by the age of 20 his football resume boasted a premiership medallion in 1980, a senior Best & Fairest award and his first of many state representative honours. In 1983 Fagan moved to Sandy Bay, a move which coincided with arguably his finest years as a player, winning a second senior Best & Fairest, three consecutive goal-kicking awards and the ABC Radio TFL Player of the Year in

When his teaching career saw him transferred north to Sheffield in 1988, Fagan continued his playing career with Devonport, a move which resulted in his second premiership medallion in the spiteful 1988 Grand Final win over
Glenorchy. Fagan returned to Hobart for one final season of TFL football with North Hobart in 1990, retiring aged only 29 with more than 250 senior games to his credit.

Upon retirement, Fagan turned his attention to coaching, initially remaining at North Hobart as an assistant under Mark Yeates as the club claimed backto- back premierships in 1991-92. This success saw Fagan land his first senior opportunity with former club Sandy Bay in 1993, the highlight of his two-year stint being a minor premiership in 1994. Already renowned as a coach with a knack for talent development, Fagan was subsequently appointed as the inaugural coach of the Tassie Mariners U18 side in 1995, his three outstanding seasons in the role producing two TAC Cup finals appearances, the state’s maiden ‘B Division’ U18 National title and no less than 18 AFL draftees, including four future Hall of Fame inductees.

During the 1997 season, Fagan circulated his resume around every AFL club in the hopes of gaining an opportunity within the system, a move which paid off when he landed the role of Melbourne reserves coach under Neale Daniher. Over the following two seasons Fagan continued to hone his developmental skills on the national stage, guiding his side to consecutive finals campaigns and boasting a winning percentage of 68%.

Following the demise of the Reserves competition at the end of 1999, Fagan remained at Melbourne as an assistant coach until the end of 2004, at which time he was presented with the opportunity to delve into football administration courtesy of newly-appointed Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson. Clarkson and Fagan had become good friends while at Melbourne in the late-90s, and now Clarkson head-hunted him to become his General Manager of Football Operations. Initially Fagan declined, reluctant to desert Daniher who had given him his break into AFL football, and in fact he even took on the corresponding role with the Demons in 2005. However, Daniher’s sacking by Melbourne in mid-2007 broke that link, and in 2008 Fagan joined Clarkson at Hawthorn, albeit in a slightly different role as Director of Coaching.

In this capacity Fagan was responsible for the appointment and development of numerous assistant coaches, three of whom – Luke Beveridge, Damien Hardwick and Adam Simpson – went on to become AFL premiership coaches. After temporarily serving as Hawthorn’s GM of Football in mid-2013, Fagan was appointed permanently at season’s end, finally landing the role for which Clarkson had originally sounded him out eight years earlier.

Now established as one of the most universally respected football minds in the game, Fagan went on to oversee the Hawks’ premiership hat trick of 2013-15. Despite this success, Fagan still harboured a desire to coach at senior level himself, and in late-2016 his ambition was realised when he was appointed senior coach of the Brisbane Lions. Now able to fully utilise his talents as a mentor and strategist, Fagan’s tutelage saw the Lions’ young list make enormous developmental strides after a decade in the doldrums.

Fagan’s brilliant work culminated in Brisbane’s stunning 2019 season in which they finished second after the H&A season to qualify for their first finals appearance since 2009, ultimately bowing out after a close Semi Final loss to eventual Grand Finalists GWS. Fagan’s efforts were duly recognised at season’s end, when he became the first Tasmanian bestowed with the Allan Jeans Award by his peers as Senior Coach of the Year. He subsequently led the Lions to Top 4 finishes in the following three seasons, however they were unable to progress further than a Preliminary Final on any occasion, including suffering a heartbreaking one point
home Semi Final loss to the Western Bulldogs in 2021.

Chris Fagan’s contribution to football in Tasmania and interstate has been immense, and the fact that after more than four decades in the business his ideas and methods are as fresh and relevant as ever is extraordinarily impressive. A truly worthy elevation to the status of Tasmanian football Legend, his greatest achievements may still be yet to come – an exciting possibility.