The late John Todd will be remembered as many things – an AFL Hall of Famer, a Sandover medallist, and a WA Footballing Legend. To Andrew Pruyn, Todd will be remembered as the man who saved and uplifted Swan Districts. 

Yesterday, the Australian footballing community went into mourning as it was announced Todd had passed away at 86 years of age. 

Tributes poured in from all corners of Australia, with many clubs and leagues recognising his contributions as a coach and a player. 

Speaking on Sports Breakfast, Swan Districts coach Pryun reflected on his journey with Todd, which started back when he was 17 and fresh in the Swan Districts league side in the early 2000s. 

Todd coached Swan Districts on three occasions – 1977 to 1987, 1990 to 1994 and 2000 to 2002.

He said the passing was ‘touched with sadness’ but one which enticed many memories of his ‘Toddy-isms.’

“You look back on those three years that we had him in the early 2000s and just the impact that he was able to have on our entire group was just huge,” said Pryun.

“It’s sad to have lost a person like that. (He was) Such a good educator and connector with history and a big part of why we’re still here.” 

As a player, Todd was a wunderkind, bursting onto the WAFL scene at 16 for South Fremantle. At 17 years of age, he won the Sandover Medal beating Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer by four points.

However, an unfortunate, yet serious knee injury cut his career back to 132 games as a player. 

He had a long and illustrious coaching career – coaching 735 career games and becoming the first West Australian coach to reach 700 games, the fourth overall in Australia. 

Four of the six premierships he coached belonged to Swan Districts, but Todd had a profound impact on Swan Districts extending beyond premierships. 

“We started to reflect and get caught up in his great achievements and being associated with the highest of highs with our premierships, but back in 2000, he returned,” said Pruyn

“Essentially, we were broke and he returned to our club for nothing else other than to save our club. 

“We need to raise $330,000 and Toddy was the reason that we were able to raise that and keep the doors open. 

“I reflected and remember him cleaning the toilets at one stage of the footy club because he couldn’t afford to pay cleaners. So that’s just the type of person that he was.” 

To Pruyn, Todd was a man who embodied and carried the spirit of the Swans – the spirit that lingers within the walls of Bassendean Oval still to this day.

“Any legend of our footy club is linked to him in some way with a story. He made our club and he made many people,” said Pruyn.

“What he was able to do was develop the connection between his player group and the actual club. 

“These greats of our club, they’re still very much Swan Districts people and I’d argue that that has a lot to do with the way Toddy coached, the way he challenged people, the way he motivated them. 

“He forced you to be and gain an understanding that you were never bigger than the club and you owed the club a hell of a lot more than what it owed you.”

On Saturday, June 15th, Swan Districts and South Fremantle will play each other at Bassendean Oval for the John Todd Cup.

Andrew Pruyn urges everyone from both clubs to honour Todd and his ‘incredible’ contributions to WA Footy.

IMAGE: News Limited