Sheedy tells Hird: let's have some fun
GWS coach Kevin Sheedy with Essendon coach James Hird at Circular Quay. Sheedy has written an open letter to Hird ahead of their NAB Cup match on Friday night at Manuka Oval. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Kevin Sheedy has urged former prodigy James Hird to put the drug scandal engulfing Essendon to one side and enjoy his Canberra homecoming on Friday night.
In an open letter to Hird posted on Greater Western Sydney’s website on Monday, Giants coach Sheedy advised his Bombers counterpart to forget the club’s dramas when the two sides meet at Manuka Oval.
The NAB Cup clash is the first AFL match to be played under lights at the ground, and Hird’s first Canberra appearance in a footballing capacity since he was drafted by Essendon when at Ainslie in 1990.
The AFL and Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s investigation into the club’s alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs last year is ongoing.
Essendon’s fitness boss Dean Robinson has been stood down.
Sheedy coached Essendon for 27years, winning four flags with Hird featuring in two.
‘‘Most of all we want to become a club that is respected, on and off the field. A club that not only values success but has strong values and good people,’’ Sheedy wrote.
‘‘That’s what hurts me when I see what’s happening at Essendon. What happens to good people like [club doctor] Bruce Reid who I have known for more than 30years. A man widely respected and of integrity, like yourself. For now let’s play some footy, let’s have a contest and a bit of fun, too.’’
The AFL’s third-longest serving coach wrote he hopes Hird doesn’t fall victim to the drugs probe, and will forge a long coaching career.
‘‘In tough times it’s always nice to go home. And I reckon this match in Canberra comes at a good time for you,’’ he wrote.
‘‘The nation’s capital, where you grew up and took your first steps on the football field (I promise I won’t mention the ballet lessons).
‘‘At the end of 2007 it came to an end [at Essendon] for both of us. You in my old job, and me in a new job.
This is my last year as a senior coach, I just hope it isn’t yours.’’
Sheedy will also attend the ACT Brumbies-NSW Waratahs clash at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, where he will watch former Giant Israel Folau play for the visitors.
‘‘It’s a special weekend for Canberra as it celebrates its centenary with its first AFL match under lights, the Brumbies versus Waratahs [featuring ex-Giant Izzy Folau] and the Black Opal [race day on Sunday]. I reckon
Canberra will be pleased to see you.
‘‘You can come full circle, back to where you started.’’