Adam Simpson will forever hold a special place in West Coast Eagles history.

The last three years have been tough on Simpson, the playing group and the club more broadly but he is one of only three men to lead the Eagles to premiership glory.

Of course, Mick Malthouse cracked the seal to win premierships in 1992 and 1994 to prove the flag could be won from Perth. Then his premiership captain John Worsfold mirrored the effort, winning an epic Grand Final against Sydney in 2006.

Simpson had the unenviable task of following Worsfold into the coaching realm in 2014 after one of the Eagles’ iconic figures had led the club through 12 seasons and 281 matches.

The Eagles were a breath away from finals in Simpson’s first year, missing the top eight cut by one game and finishing ninth on the ladder. A year later, against all predictions, he propelled his team into the Grand Final.

Ultimately the young Eagles were not equipped to handle a mature and vastly experienced Hawthorn outfit, going down by 46 points.

That result aside, it was in the 2015 that Simpson gave an insight into his strategic guile, devising what became known as the “Eagles web.”

Born out of necessity after losing two key defenders before half-time in the opening round, Simpson pivoted his game plan and implemented a brilliant, mobile defensive structure to cover the lack of tall defensive options.

His team lost Eric Mackenzie, a man of all-Australian calibre despite never getting that recognition, in a practice game against Carlton at Rushton Park. Then, in the first term of the season opener against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, Mitch Brown also went down with a season-ending knee injury.

With pliable defenders Shannon Hurn and Brad Sheppard central players in the web because of their innate ability to read the game and adaptability in playing against opponents of varying sizes and skill sets, the defensive structure was the corner stone of the Eagles ascent.         

Simpson, a 306-game champion of North Melbourne, held intimate intel on the Hawks game style after cutting his coaching teeth at Waverley under Alastair Clarkson, but it meant little in the cauldron of the biggest game on the biggest stage.

Hawthorn proved to be the Eagles masters and won by 46 points.

Three years later and Simpson again piloted the Eagles into the Grand Final, this time masterminding a thrilling five-point victory over Collingwood.

This triumph was again built around his tactical intellect, constructing a come-from-behind victory with a team that was without three of its stars. Talisman ruckman Nic Naitanui suffered a season-ending knee injury in a round 17 defeat of the Pies at the MCG, indefatigable wingman Andrew Gaff was suspended and Sheppard suffered a major hamstring injury in the qualifying final against Collingwood at Optus Stadium – the first final ever staged at Optus Stadium.

Again Simpson demonstrated creativity from the box. Without Naitanui, who so often gave the Eagles first use of the ball from stoppages, the Eagles maestro deployed Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy as tagging ruckmen.

It proved a masterstroke, both in a dominant preliminary final dismantling of Melbourne and Max Gawn and again when they matched up with Brodie Grundy in the Grand Final.

At that stage Simpson’s winning percentage was a remarkable 64 percent, but no one could foresee the future. And the numbers have taken a hit, but he is still batting at better than .50.

In 2019 the Eagles paid a heavy price for late season defeats at the hands of Richmond and Hawthorn to slip out of the top four and were ultimately defeated by Geelong in a semi-final at the MCG.

In 2020 the campaign was derailed by COVID and two long stints on the Gold Coast in a hub. The next three seasons were decimated like never before by an injury pandemic.

Clearly this has not ended the way anyone would have liked but Simpson will forever be a West Coast Eagles premiership coach.

There are only two others – Mick Malthouse and John Worsfold. He sits alongside Eagles royalty.