Leon Cameron will leave Hawthorn to join Greater Western Sydney. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
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There is now an exclamation point on the senior coaching career of Kevin Sheedy, and it will come in the final round next season, when he coaches his 678th, and last game ... but don't think 2013 is all about a farewell tour.
Greater Western Sydney confirmed yesterday Leon Cameron would be Sheedy’s assistant next season, then take over his job from 2014. The club hopes to retain Sheedy in some role, and the master mentor is keen to stay.
Just what that position is, will be decided in the future, but what is certain is that when the Giants play in round 23 in 2013 (barring a shock finals’ appearance), Sheedy’s coaching career, which began at Essendon in 1981, will be over.
It was thought it ended back at Subiaco Oval on September 1, 2007, at Essendon, before a call from the Giants and the AFL enticed Sheedy back into the game. That’s unlikely to happen again though.
‘‘There won’t be a farewell tour, I can assure you of that. I’m sick of all that stuff,’’ said Sheedy who earlier this year was involved in his 1000th VFL/AFL match as a player and coach.
‘‘I think that’s OK knowing I have this one year left. How long do you coach? This job was always about starting off and building the club, and we have still got a long way to go.
‘‘One more year we’ll get it right, and keep developing these young players, we’ll get a new voice in, a voice in that is straight out of a very, very successful club, and we’ll see what makes Hawthorn tick.
‘‘We have to make sure we keep advancing this club and when an opportunity comes up like Leon, it’s a situation where you grab those people.
‘‘The club came to me three or four weeks before the end of the season and said we’d like to sign you up and keep you for next year. I’m happy with that, I didn’t want to sign a long-term contract, because I thought it keeps the flexibility about the availability to get someone.
‘‘If I had signed for three years, you wouldn’t even get an opportunity to get someone like Leon. I thought that was the way to go. I’ll just do one year and that keeps everything on the table fair for everybody.’’
GWS chief executive David Matthews said he will sit down with Sheedy in the coming weeks and ask him what he wants to do. He says it is a blank sheet of paper because there are so many ways Sheedy can contribute to the club, and ‘‘I’d like him to stay actively involved in the football side of it, potentially as a director, or looking at a board role. I just think this is someone the Giants want to hang onto for a long time to come’’.
Sheedy said he is keen to stay in football, and continue to develop the game in Sydney and throughout New South Wales. He has done that already, but doing that job, as well as coaching the senior team, can be taxing, and ‘‘it’s not as if you are 40. I’m 65 at Christmas and I always wanted to make sure my health is more important than thinking about what your credibility in coaching is. To me it’s about making sure you enjoy the rest of your life.’’
Asked if he was proud of what he has helped build at GWS, he said: ‘‘Oh yeah. All the work that has been done and will continue to be done, what you will see in 10 years’ time, is that most people in the AFL , in the other states, will say, ‘this has been a damn good job’.’’
The Giants have a good catch in Cameron. The 40-year-old played 256 games for the Western Bulldogs and Tigers before being an assistant to Rodney Eade at the Bulldogs from 2004-10 then an assistant to Alastair Clarkson at Hawks for the last two seasons.
‘‘I am absolutely rapt to be here. What better way can you start out your coaching career,’’ Cameron said of spending a season with Sheedy.
‘‘I’m going to be living off every moment, every piece of advice he gives me in the next 12 months and beyond.’’
Cameron was asked if he expected the Giants to be finals candidates towards the end of his four-year contract. ‘‘That’s very, very hard to answer. We’re just worried about improvement year after year after year.’’
While the draw is yet to be announced, it’s expected the Giants will again host the Swans at ANZ Stadium in round one. While it won’t be a stand-alone game like 2012, it is expected to be a Saturday twilight fixture.