Peter Knights

  • CHS 1971
  • Played in CHS Football and Cricket teams
  • Playing for Hawthorn Football Club 1969-1985
  • Coach of Brisbane Bears (Lions) 1987-89
  • Coach of Hawthorn Football Club 1994-1995
  • Inducted into AFL Hall of Fame 1996
  • Named a Hawthorn Club Legend 2017

Peter Knights was raised on a farm at Longwarry in Gippsland and received most of his secondary education at Drouin High School. He was recruited to Hawthorn in 1969 and soon showed his exemplary skills. Not only was he a prodigious kick but he was a magnificent high-flying mark. He made his debut in the same year and played five games, but the following season he established himself as a permanent member of the team. Peter attended Camberwell High School in 1971 while playing for Hawthorn and played in the Firsts. The team enjoyed success for the whole season, got into the Eastern Division Grand Final but were beaten by South Blackburn.

In 1971, Peter’s form earned him a place in the Victorian team. Although Hawthorn won the Grand Final in that year, Peter missed because of a knee damaged in the Preliminary Final. It was not until 1975 that he again received an opportunity to play in a Grand Final, although this was a disappointing loss. This was soon corrected the following year when Hawthorn defeated North Melbourne in the Grand Final. Peter was also a member of the Hawthorn teams which won Premierships in 1978 and 1983. In one famous game at Essendon, Peter and Essendon’s Paul Van Der Haar put on a marvellous exhibition of high-marking skills that is fondly remembered by football fans. Peter was twice runner-up in the Brownlow Medal count. He was also twice the recipient of the Simpson Medal for best player in Victoria versus Western Australian interstate matches.

Peter’s football career came to an end in 1985 after he had played 264 games and kicked 201 goals. This opened the door to a coaching career, taking that role with the Brisbane Bears (later Lions) in their inaugural season and for the period 1987-1989. As one of Hawthorn’s favourite sons, Peter returned as coach in 1994 and 1995. Since then he has taken a role as a club ambassador, and was honoured to be a bearer of the Premiership Cup on Grand Final Day in 2015.

Peter Knights has been honoured with being named on the half-back flank in Hawthorn’s Team of the Century. He was twice winner of the Peter Crimmins Medal for Hawthorn’s Best & Fairest and won Mark of the Year three times. In 1996 Peter was inducted into the Australian Football League Hall of Fame and in 2017 he was named as a Hawthorn Club Legend.

Peter recalls his CHS school days:
1970 saw me doing my Year 12 at Drouin High (I was actually School Captain). Although I became a regular senior player with the Hawks as well as a Year 12 student, it was a challenging year and academically I didn’t get the grades I was after. In 1971 my senior Coach at the Hawks John Kennedy (who was quite high up in the Victorian education department at the time) advised my parents that I should consider repeating Year 12.

 However, he strongly recommended I do this in Melbourne; this would both help my schooling and my football. So the move to both Canterbury and CHS followed, and as much as I was pretty ‘unwilling’ about moving to Melbourne, it turned out for the best. I moved to Melbourne at the beginning of 1971 to do my year 12 at Camberwell High School and as our family had relatives living in Canterbury I was able to board with them. CHS was both close to their home and fairly close to the Hawthorn Football Club (Glenferrie Oval) so pretty convenient all round.

1971 was a great year for me, acclimatising to city life. Initially I found it really hard but slowly I became more and more comfortable with my new surrounds. Early school life was a little strange as I was in a position where all the students knew me (as I had already had two years playing VFL footy with the Hawks) but other than Doug Evans, I knew nobody else! City kids knew so much more about life than did this naive country boy. However, friendships quickly developed especially after taking an active involvement in the extra- curricular activities like cricket, athletics and of course football. We especially had successful years in both cricket and footy and I was an active and regular team member at both practice sessions and CHS matches which were played against other Schools during the week.

Yes, I had a really enjoyable time at CHS and on looking back it was certainly an exciting and memorable year. No doubt it assisted me with my maturity, confidence and generally ”opening up my eyes” when it came to getting out of my comfort zone.

Perhaps we should not be surprised to learn that in 1971, with Peter Knights in the school team, Camberwell High School had its most successful football season.

CHS Football Team 1971

CHS Football and Cricket reports featuring Peter Knights can be seen here:
Updated 2020

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