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Hird faces land of the Giants

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Former Essendon greats James Hird and Kevin Sheedy will square off in Canberra next March when the Bombers take on the Giants at Manuka Oval.

Former Essendon greats James Hird and Kevin Sheedy will square off in Canberra next March when the Bombers take on the Giants at Manuka Oval. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

He's Canberra sporting royalty, but Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy has warned James Hird he'll be entering Giants country when they play Essendon in a NAB Cup fixture at Manuka Oval next year.

In another coup for the city's centenary celebrations, Hird's Bombers will take on the Giants at Canberra in the pre-season competition on Friday, March 8.

In a mouth-watering marketing opportunity, former Essendon skipper Hird will match wits in the coach's box against the man he won two premierships under at Windy Hill.

It will be the first AFL game to be played under the new Manuka Oval lights, with the Giants also set to play a twilight fixture there against St Kilda in round three.

Sheedy selected Hird with pick 79 in the 1990 draft, and the 1996 Brownlow medallist went on to become one of Essendon's greatest players.

Hird began his career with Ainslie and was recently inducted into the ACT Sports Hall of Fame, but Sheedy joked there was a new sheriff in Canberra.

''Canberra is now a Giants town, it's not James Hird's town. I'll tell him that,'' he said yesterday.

It was a statement made in jest, but it shows Sheedy is serious about proving the Giants intend to treat their relationship with Canberra with respect.

The Giants this year began a $26 million deal with the ACT government to play three premiership games and a NAB Cup fixture at Manuka Oval for 10 years.

Essendon is a welcome drawcard. Greater Western Sydney played fellow strugglers the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and Gold Coast in Canberra this year.

Those clubs filled the three spots on the ladder above the last-placed Giants, and Sheedy agreed luring bigger clubs such as Essendon and St Kilda was a crucial next step.

''We're really going to be pushing hard to make sure Canberra gets quality games to reward the people there that have loved AFL over the years, that have probably felt they've been left out a touch,'' he said.

''That's an area we're working on to make sure the people that support the game see there's a genuine, honest effort to make sure AFL in Canberra is well planned and well thought out.

''Both those teams [Essendon and St Kilda] both just missed the finals this year, and it's a step in the right direction by the club to pursue those teams.''

Sheedy hinted the Giants may investigate the potential of playing juggernaut Collingwood in a NAB Cup game next year.

''We've just got to keep pursuing clubs that haven't been to Canberra for a while,'' he said.

''We're trying to negotiate with some big clubs to bring them [here]. It's great to see the Bombers up here with Hirdy, and maybe it will be Collingwood next year.

''Hirdy played in a premiership at a very young age [with Ainslie] before he came down to play with the Bombers.

''I don't know if he's been back a lot since, so it'll be great for him to thank Canberra for the start they gave him in footy.''

2 comments

  • I believe that when Collingwood played at Manuka a few years back (either against the Swans or North Melbourne) Eddie Maguire was a little disapointed at the cpacity of the 'boutique' ground and upset local fans when he said you'd never see Collingwood here again. Suited me me just fine at the time!

    Commenter
    Logician
    Date and time
    October 25, 2012, 1:27PM
    • "probably think they have been left out a bit', this is a huge understatement Kevin.

      It would seem we will continue to be expediently appeased despite the rhetoric expressed here as soon as our centenary celebrations are dne and dusted.

      The AFL's plans for growth are clearly to gift NZ's capital city wellington marquee fixtures that quite frankly we in Canberra continue to fight for having just celebrated 100 years of devotion formally to our indigenous code.

      This is a premature assault by the AFL, to go head to head with competition sporting brands in the Trans Tasman tv commercial cold war.

      That NZ is not only an international market of ignorant contempt but also lacks any merit based criteria to be considered which ever way you pitch it, seems irrelevant today as sport is only a commodity.

      Tassie, the NT and the Nations Capital to name a few, are to be again leap frogged next expansion, by a non footy demographic which the recent GWS and GC insults pale by comparison.

      As an old St Kilda man, i will not be attending any AFL fixtures again in my life time while I remain steadfastly devoted to the code at the grass roots.

      Commenter
      Gob
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      October 25, 2012, 4:48PM
      Comments are now closed
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