By his own admission, "Delicate" Des Dickson was a good footballer without being great.
The Golden Square ruckman was good enough to make Hawthorn's VFL list in 1962 and with the help of coach John Kennedy, Dickson played 73 more VFL games than he thought he would.
"I wasn't the best player in the world, but John and I understood each other well,'' Dickson recalled from his Bendigo home this week.
"He liked you to work hard and he got me fit. When I went to Melbourne I had doubts I could play the game.
"At Golden Square I weighed about 17 stone and, then when I got to Hawthorn, John ripped four stone off me and all of a sudden I realised that I maybe could play the game because I was fitter."
Kennedy passed away this week at the age of 91 after one of the most decorated careers in VFL/AFL history, including three premierships with Hawthorn.
Kennedy cared and he got the best out of his players, including Dickson, who quickly learned what it was like to be one of "Kennedy's Commandos".
"John was such a determined bugger,'' Dickson said.
"One day he said to me "I'll be on your doorstep at 6am in the morning". I thought there'd be no way he'd be there at 6am.
"I lived in Blackburn and he lived out the other side somewhere, but sure enough at 6am the next morning there was a tap at my window and there's John ready to go for a run."
Dickson said the AFL Hall of Fame legend inspired the Hawks to great heights.
"Not many coaches can get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up,'' Dickson said.
"He'd make us want to run through the door for him.
"John and I had an understanding and he'd ask me to do this, this and this.
"I kept getting a game because I did what I was told."
Kennedy's booming voice still echoes in Dickson's ears today.
"You always knew where the coaches box was at Glenferrie Oval,'' Dickson said.
"If you got hurt you'd hear "GET UP" echo right across the ground. John instilled into all of us that if you got hurt you never let it show.
"That was the beginning of the great era that Hawthorn had because we just didn't take any backward steps.
"He used to say that any hit you copped above the chin doesn't hurt anyway."
Read more: Catch up on all the latest footy news
Dickson's only regret in his time under Kennedy was missing the 1963 grand final against Geelong.
A game the Cats won by 49 points after surging clear in the final quarter.
"I got reported in the last home and away game and missed the whole finals series,'' he said.
"I was suspended for four weeks... I should have played in that 1963 grand final. I'd love to have played in that game.
"I had a bit of a reputation, but that was the only time I was suspended in my career.
"I got reported a few times, but I was only suspended once."
Dickson and Kennedy's paths crossed at the end of Dickson's career at Hawthorn.
After five years with the Hawks, Dickson was appointed coach of Stawell for the 1967 season, replacing Kennedy.
"When John went to Stawell to coach he wanted to get the country boys fit because they didn't train hard enough,'' Dickson said.
"The story goes that he carried one of the players on his back around the Stawell oval and still beat the rest of them even though he had an extra man on his back.
"He was a tenacious fellow."
That tenacity and discipline was the hallmark of Kennedy-coached teams.
Dickson said Kennedy's teachings made him a better footballer and person.
"John was an influence on what I did and I liked the guy,'' Dickson said.
"He was a great orator. 'Don't take any steps back, always go forward and always be aggressive' he'd say.
"It worked for us."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.