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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Australian Football Hall of Fame: Kevin Sheedy a legend, WA stars Mel Whinnen and Bernie Naylor inducted

Coaching giant Kevin Sheedy has been declared a Legend of the AFL in recognition of his half a century of service to Australian football.
Sheedy was named the AFL's 28th official Legend at the annual Hall of Fame function in Melbourne on Tuesday night.
The honouring of Sheedy with the AFL's highest status capped off a night in which six former greats of the game, including Geelong premiership hero Matthew Scarlett, were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Former Western Bulldogs coach and Hawthorn premiership player Terry Wallace, ex-Melbourne power forward David Neitz, former Carlton skipper Wayne Johnston and West Australian greats Bernie Naylor and Mel Whinnen were the other inductees.
Sheedy excelled as player with Richmond but made his biggest impact on the game as a four-time premiership coach during an astonishing 27-year reign at Essendon.
"Only two people in the world did 27 years: Nelson Mandela and myself," a deadpan Sheedy said in his acceptance speech.
The self-described "back-pocket plumber" played 251 games for the Tigers between 1967-79, winning three premierships, and was named in the club's team of the century.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008, Sheedy's coaching success, left-field ideas and quirky personality have made him one of the game's most influential figures.
"Kevin was never conventional," fellow AFL legend Kevin Bartlett said.
"He was innovative, he was a risk-taker and he moved players about like chess pieces."
The timing of Sheedy's elevation, just days before the annual Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round gets underway, is fitting given his strong promotion of Aboriginal players.
Sheedy championed the establishment of the annual Dreamtime at the 'G clash between Essendon and Richmond, as well as the Bombers' Anzac Day match against Collingwood.
More than 85,000 fans are expected to flock to the MCG on Saturday night for this year's Dreamtime match, which includes celebrations of indigenous culture and The Long Walk for reconciliation led by Bombers great Michael Long.
Sheedy identified the success of the two feature matches, as well as the burgeoning Country Game against Geelong in support of Australia's farmers, as one of his proudest accomplishments.
The other was the AFL Sportsready traineeship program which has helped find jobs for thousands of young Australians.
Sheedy was given the nod for legend status ahead of past superstars Wayne Carey, Gary Ablett and Jason Dunstall, who between them booted more than 3000 career goals.
Six-time All-Australian fullback Scarlett, who played his 284th and final AFL game for Geelong in 2012, was the most recent retiree among the six Hall of Fame inductees.
Neitz kicked 631 goals for Melbourne over 306 games between 1993 and 2008.
Wallace won premierships with Hawthorn in 1978, 1983 and 1986 before going on to coach the Western Bulldogs and Richmond, while Johnston captained Carlton from 1984-85 and won flags with the Blues in 1979, 1981-82 and 1987.
South Fremantle great Naylor was previously inducted into the West Australian Football Hall of Fame for his heroics in the 1940s-50s, as was 1960s-70s West Perth stalwart Whinnen.