When you are an Aussie and your surname is Paterson, it’s almost inevitable that you will cop the nickname ”Banjo” after the famous Australian poet.

Jack “Banjo” Paterson was a St Kilda man through and through, and as head trainer for the Saints was a popular figure at the club. But he would never have imagined that for one day in 1938 he would coach the team due to a bizarre set of circumstances.  

St Kilda’s captain-coach Ansell Clarke fell ill on the morning of the game at Junction Oval against Melbourne and was rushed to St Vincent’s hospital for surgery to have his appendix removed. In those days, the reserves team played on the opposite ground to the seniors.

With the reserves coach Dan Minogue coaching the seconds team at another ground, officials hurriedly decided to have “Banjo” Paterson address the senior team before they ran out against Melbourne.

Reading newspaper reports, it seems that Banjo relished the chance to deliver a few home truths according to The Age.

He made a particularly vigorous speech, impressing on the players the need for more determination and courageousness in their play.

- The Age

Banjo’s fiery words were not enough to get the Saints over the line and they went down by 16 points.

At half-time Saints officials decided they would need to appoint an interim coach for the next few weeks while Clarke recovered. Minogue, who had been senior coach from 1935 to 1937 took on the role for the next five weeks until Clarke’s return.

So “Banjo” Paterson went into the record books as a one-game coach. He had started as a trainer with the Saints in 1918 and was head trainer from 1931 to 1941. His name is listed in some records as William Patterson, but was definitely Jack Paterson. 

Two other men with far greater footy credentials than Banjo had brief stints in the senior coaching chair.

Eric Guy at the helm.

In 1974, renowned hard man Eric Guy became senior coach for four games after Allan Jeans had gone down with hepatitis. Coach of the reserves, Guy had previous brief experience in the main job when Jeans was interstate coaching Victoria. Guy’s overall record in five games was three wins and two losses.

Premiership player Allan Davis stepped up in late 1987 when coach Darrel Baldock suffered a stroke two days before the game. Davis notched two wins and had two losses.

There is never a good time to have the coach unable to be at a game, but the most famous instance was at Collingwood when the legendary Jock McHale was hit by a bout of influenza and was confined to bed on the day of the 1930 Grand Final.