Assistant CoachAt Carlton : 1981
Playing Career : Essendon 1957-67 (194 games, 303 goals)
Height : 173 cm ( 5 ft. 8 in.)
Weight : 68 kg (10 stone, 9 lbs.)
DOB : January 29, 1937
Johnny Birt was a widely-experienced former Essendon champion who spent one season at Princes Park as an assistant to David Parkin during the Premiership year of 1981. It was “Parko’s” first year as senior coach of the Blues, and Birt’s counsel was more than handy as the Blues triumphed in a tough finals campaign and won their 13th flag.
Originally from Ballarat, Birt was a classy rover who started his VFL career with Essendon and went on to play 193 games, including the Bombers’ Grand Final victories in 1962 and 1965. He was the Bombers' leading goal-kicker in 1958, and Best and Fairest in 1961, 1965 and 1967. After winning the third of those honours, Birt accepted the position of captain-coach with West Torrens in the SANFL. The next three seasons were mediocre ones for the Eagles, although John continued to show his class by winning successive Best and Fairests in 1968-69, and becoming an automatic selection for South Australia in interstate games.
At the conclusion of the 1970 season, Birt retired from the field and headed back to Essendon as senior coach. However, the Bombers won only four games in 1971, and the following year John was replaced by Des Tuddenham. Footscray then picked him up as their assistant coach from 1972 to 1976. Over the next few years, Birt concentrated on his career as a teacher at Essendon Grammar School and Pulteney Grammar School, while keeping his hand in as a skills coach at Hawthorn. Then in 1981, Carlton decided that his experience was needed, and lured him to Princes Park. He gave valuable support to Parkin, but other clubs were aware of his ability, and before year’s end he was on the move again to join Collingwood.
Birt went on to spend more than a decade with the Magpies in a variety of responsible positions including Football Manager, Marketing Manager and Membership Manager. In 1994 he was appointed CEO of the struggling Fitzroy Lions and oversaw their merger with Brisbane, before returning to Victoria Park in 1997 and serving the ‘pies for a further three years.