Peter Knights

Peter Knights

Peter Knights (born 30 March 1952) is a former Australian rules footballer and coach.

VFL career

He played 264 senior games with Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League (VFL) from 1969 to 1985, and was most well-known for his blond hair, pretty boy looks and his spectacular high marking. He kicked a seemingly modest total of 202 goals, but actually kicked seven or more in a match three times.

After a slow start, he established himself as a top centre half back in 1970. The following year he did so well in that position that he was chosen for Victoria, but missed the Grand Final due to the first of a large number of injuries.

The following year, Knights was moved to full forward after a serious knee injury to Peter Hudson. He had enough successes to head Hawthorn's goalkicking for that year with 46 goals, but was moved back to defence before the year was over. After injury problems restricted his 1973 season, for the next three years Knights was by far the best centre half back in the game. But for a broken collarbone, he would undoubtedly have won the 1976 Brownlow Medal, and he was widely regarded as best on ground in both the 1975 and 1976 Grand Finals. He was a member of Hawthorn's premiership sides in 1976, 1978 and 1983 and won the club championship in 1975.

From 1977 onwards Knights was frequently rested up forward to reduce the risk of injuries, but still did enough great work at centre half back to be second in the 1978 Brownlow. However, injuries restricted him to 26 games out of 66 between 1979 and 1981, but - now playing permanently up forward - Knights rebounded to play impressive football in 1983. After a major knee injury restricted himself to four game in 1984, his last season showed traces of brilliant form - notably his nine goals against Carlton in Round 10 - but form lapses led to him being relegated to the Reserves for the Grand Final.

Contests between Knights and rival team Essendon's Paul Van Der Haar became legendary.

Coaching career

Knights is as much remembered for his failure as a coach as his spectacular success on the field.

In 1986, the VFL expanded to include a team from each of Western Australia and Queensland. The Brisbane Bears, based on the Gold Coast in South East Queensland, recruited Knights as their inaugural coach, despite his lack of coaching experience. Expectations of the new side were low but it was considered a significant achievement that the team was able to avoid finishing last in their first season, 1987.

Despite this, the Bears' results in 1988 and 1989 failed to improve, with the club suffering regular thrashings. Knights was dismissed as coach with seven games remaining in the 1989 season and replaced with team psychologist, Paul Feltham. Knights was considered to have been unlucky, as ineffective club management and poor relationships amongst his underperforming players seen as major contributing factors in the club's performance.

His former club, Hawthorn, appointed him senior coach for the 1994 season, finishing sixth of fifteen clubs—but was knocked out by North Melbourne in the first final. The following year the team finished second last, however, and Knights was again sacked.

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