Geelong/North Hobart, Half Back, 1960-75
> 118 games, six goals, Geelong, 1960-66
> 102 games, North Hobart, 1967-71 and 1974-75
> Geelong premiership, 1963
> Represented Victoria, 1965
> Coached North Hobart, 1967-71, 1974-75 and 1981
> North Hobart premierships, 1967, 1969 and 1974
> Lefroy Medal, 1968 (Tasmania’s best player)
> Represented Tasmania six times between 1967 and 1970
> Captained Tasmania 1968-70, including 1969 National Carnival and 1970 victory over West Australia
> Coached Tasmania 1970 (West Australia) and 1971 (South Australia)
> Coached Geelong, 1986-88 for 66 games and 28 wins (43%)
> Named captain of North Hobart’s Team of the Century, 2000
> Inducted into the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame, 2005
> Life member, Geelong and North Hobart Football Clubs
John Devine was born and bred in Colac in the western district of Victoria and made his senior debut for Geelong in the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1960.
A ferociously tough defender with a loping running style, John Devine was highly regarded for his loyalty to Geelong both on and off the field, and as a player was feared for his uncompromising approach to the game and his opponents.
Devine was a member of Geelong’s premiership team in 1963 and was named amongst the best for the Cats in their victory over Hawthorn. He played during a particularly successful era for Geelong, with the Cats contesting the finals series from 1962 to 1966. Recognised as a ‘big game’ player, Devine was named amongst the Cats best in six of the nine finals they contested during his time with Geelong.
In 1967, while serving a six-week suspension from the VFL 1966 season, the 26-year-old Devine moved to Tasmania to coach North Hobart over the boundary fence until his suspension was complete. Devine went on that year to lead his very young team—who were last place in the1966 season—to a Tasmanian Football League (TFL) premiership. He was best on ground in the 1967 Tasmanian state premiership final, kicking five goals as a forward. The game is part of Australian rules folklore due to the dramatic scene created by supporters of opposing team Wynyard, who tore down the goal posts before North Hobart’s Dick Collins could take his close-range kick from a mark just before the siren.
Devine captain-coached two more TFL premierships in 1969 and 1974, and also took out the Tasmanian state premiership in 1969, following wins over NWFU premiers Latrobe (led and coached by Darrel Baldock) and NTFA premiers Launceston (coached by Bob Withers). The state premiership final against Launceston at York Park saw Devine’s North Hobart win by a record 20 goals.
Devine’s move to Tasmania in 1967 gave local football followers a chance to see the former Geelong hard man play many memorable games that season and in years to come. Two of these games, the 1967 state grand final and the 1970 Tasmanian representative game, have been formally recognised by the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.
Memorable games involving North Hobart, Tasmania and John Devine at his playing best include:
1967: North Hobart TFL premiership over Glenorchy from fourth position (first TFL club to do so).
1967: famous state grand final against Wynyard that concluded as a ‘no match’ due to the goal post incident.
1968: North Hobart were favourites who lost to a Trevor Leo-led New Norfolk who won their first senior TFL flag.
1969: North Hobart premiership over Clarence and state premiership win against Launceston by a record margin.
1970: Devine captain-coach of Tasmania in a famous victory against West Australia.
John Devine returned to Geelong in an official capacity in 1986 when he became Geelong’s coach after the sacking of Tom Hafey. When Geelong finished tenth at the end of the 1988 season Devine was not retained as coach. However, during his tenure, Devine recruited many players including future Geelong ‘Team of the Century’ ruck-rover Garry Hocking, future captain Mark Bairstow, Billy Brownless, Bruce Lindner, Barry Stoneham and David Cameron. Each of these individuals would play a role in the team reaching the VFL grand final in 1989 under Malcolm Blight.
After his playing and coaching days ended John Devine became a successful businessman and politician in Tasmania and was recognised by North Hobart Football Club and Tasmanian Football for his contribution to the game.