AT A GLANCE
Name: James McKenzie
Wife: Flavia. Children: Caitlin, Elspeth, Kates, Francesca and Alex.
Parents: Bill and Elinor. Sibling: Kevin.
Education: St John's Primary School, Mitcham, before going to Whitefriars College, Donvale, then Hamilton's Monivae College.
Sporting highlight: Being in the crowd when Hawthorn won 12 of its last 13 premierships. The one I missed was in 1961.
James, that's an incredible achievement to have been at the MCG when your side, Hawthorn, won 12 premierships. I take it they would be all special but is there one that sticks in your mind?
It's true they are all special.
It's difficult to individualise one of the wins.
I can remember different parts of them all.
The one thing I can say is I've got vivid memories of the 1989 grand final when Hawthorn defeated Geelong.
It was the year that Geelong's Mark Yeates took out Hawthorn's Dermott Brereton in the opening minutes.
I was in my seat in the stand and who happened to be sitting in front of me was the former great Geelong footballer Michael Turner.
The funny thing about that is Michael and I sat together for school at Hamilton's Monivae College in 1969.
Let's talk about your time as a student at Monivae College. I note you spent your early schooling in Mitcham and Donvale before going to Monivae in 1969. What was the reason for the shift from the city to the country for those three years of your education?
I had been involved in a very bad car accident at Forest Hill in 1967.
I was riding my bike and was knocked off it by a motorist who had been out at an all-night party.
I was just 13 years old and was told that I may never walk again as a result of the injuries I received to my right leg.
It was smashed to pieces.
I think I had six operations on my leg, which is pretty shattering for any 13-year-old.
I missed two years of schooling before I went to boarding school at Monivae.
We had a family friend who had a child who went to Monivae so I just thought I would go there for forms four, five and six.
It was a wonderful school to me and I found the community of Hamilton great.
There was just such an amazing cross-section of students from all walks of life who had different backgrounds.
I really loved my three years at Monivae.
How many students went to Monivae in the years you attended the school?
It was in the vicinity of 380 students and of that number I would say roughly there were about 300 boarders.
The school offered wonderful opportunities for students whether that was for studying various subjects or playing sport.
Monivae has produced lots of talented sportsmen over the years, with a lot shining on the footy field.
Blokes like Hugh Delahunty, Barry Grinter, Peter Patterson, Brian McKenzie, Michael Turner, Paul Crange, Mick Delahunty and of course Bill Picken were all educated at Monivae and they all went on to play footy at the elite level in the VFL-AFL.
Did you play much sport at Monivae?
No. The reason being because of the injuries I suffered to my right leg in the accident.
I used to be the goal umpire for games of footy.
We had three teams playing in the local Hamilton and District under 18 footy competition.
Monivae would play sides like St Mary's, St Andrew's and Coleraine in that competition.
I would have to say the majority of students were keener to play footy than cricket in my time at Monivae.
What did you want to be when you were studying at Monivae?
I was interested in medicine.
I had read a lot during the two years that I was not at school.
I ended up being a chartered accountant and spent 10 years (1984-94) working in Hong Kong.
I came back to Australia in 1994.
Have you had much do to with Monivae College since you left the school at the end of 1971?
I had nothing to do with the school for years.
I got a phone call from Alan Myers in 1998, a former student of the school and he asked if I was interested in going on the foundation for the school to help raise funds for a science facility.
I jumped on board and helped out.
I still help out whenever the school needs some assistance.
There were a group of former students who organised a marquee for the Dunkeld Cup in 1998 and that tradition still continues today.
It was back then that I really came across Port Fairy.
I had been there a few times over the years and loved it but last year my wife Flavia and I visited the town and purchased a property.
We're really loving living in Port Fairy.
There's a wonderful community feeling in the town.
Let's go back to your involvement with footy and your love for Hawthorn. Where did that start from?
My dad Bill was a great mate with the late Hawthorn coach John Kennedy.
I had been in the car accident in 1967 and dad spoke to John Kennedy telling him I was in the Box Hill Hospital.
John organised the great Peter Hudson to come and see me in hospital.
It's something I'll never forget and to this day I'm great friends with Peter.
He was a champion player for Hawthorn.
He changed the history of the club with his deeds on and off the footy field.
I was asked by Melbourne and Hawthorn and the AFL's chairman of the day Ross Oakley in 1996 to chair meetings relating to both clubs merging.
We had secret meetings for a year about the possible merger.
There were lots of items on the table including finances for the clubs and membership numbers.
Both clubs had numerous issues and history now shows the merger never went through.
I also worked in an honorary role with Hawthorn in the early 1980s on players' contracts.