Kevin Sheedy

From Academic Kids

Kevin Sheedy is the current coach of AFL club Essendon, and a former player for Richmond.

Sheedy, labelled the "back-pocket plumber" by his then coach Tom Hafey, was a tough, no nonsense player, who played 251 games for Richmond between 1967 and 1979. Sheedy won the Richmond best and fairest award in 1976, was captain of the side in 1978, and played in three premierships (1969, 1973 and 1974). He represented Victoria eight times in state of origin football.

However, Sheedy's greatest impact on the game has been during his time as coach of the Essendon side. Sheedy has held down the role continuously since 1981, during which time some other sides have had over a dozen different coaches. The Essendon side has won four premierships during Sheedy's time as coach (1984, 1985, 1993 and 2000), as well as finishing runner up three more times (1983, 1990 and 2001).

As of the end of the 2003 season, Sheedy had coached the club in 545 games, a record for Essendon, and the third most by any coach in the history of the game.

He has never been a passive coach, and is well known for trying what commentators have often described as bizarre tactics. Sheedy has always believed in trying his players in as many different positions as possible, and also in giving discarded players from other clubs a second chance. These moves haven't always paid off, but sometimes they have been crucial. Sheedy made several moves in the last quarter of the 1984 grand final, when Essendon looked out of the game, and the side scored a come from behind victory. On the recruiting front, prior to the 2000 season, Sheedy lured ruckman John Barnes back to Essendon (a side that had traded him many years earlier) after he was let go by Geelong. Barnes proved to be a valuable player in the premiership side that year.

Sheedy is also noted for his quirky antics, outspoken nature and wry sense of humour. For example, before a game against West Coast at Essendon's former home ground, Windy Hill, he tied the windsocks on the grandstands down so the opposition would not know which way the wind was blowing. He is also fond of talking about how Martians cost his side the game in post-match press conferences, an oblique reference to the umpires, as AFL rules forbid coaches from criticising umpiring decisions.

His most memorable stunt came in 1993. In his excitment at winning a close match (with ruckman and forward Paul Salmon kicking a goal from the centre circle with a torpedo punt after the final siren) against the West Coast Eagles, he waved his jacket in the air as he came rushing from the coaches box. To this day, the supporters of the winning club wave their jackets in the air after the game when the two teams play. When Sheedy passed out from heat stroke on a Western Australian beach in early 2004, West Coast supporters at the hospital waved their jackets at him all day while he recovered.

Sheedy has long been an ambassador for the game throughout Australia, taking it upon himself to promote both the game in general and the Essendon club in particular. He has also done a great deal of work with Aboriginal communities in the northern parts of Australia, encouraging young aboriginals to take up the game, and being a vocal supporter of anti-racial vilification laws in the game.

In 1969, Sheedy was drafted into the Australian Army and served for two years in a construction squadron. He was, however, not assigned to travel to Vietnam to fight in the Vietnam War.

Sheedy is married to Geraldine and has (?) adult children.

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