Kevin John Sheedy
24 December 1947 (age 74)
Place of birth
Melbourne, VIC (3000)
Football coach and administrator
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 19y 126d
Last game: 31y 132d
Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 81 kg
State of origin
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
When the VFA broke its permit agreement with the VFL in 1965 it unwittingly created a double-edged sword which was to see it lose a large number of promising young players to its rival. One such was Kevin Sheedy, a 19-year-old centreman who had starred in Prahran's 1966 second division premiership win, and who crossed to Richmond without a clearance the following year. Never the most elegant or poised of footballers, his gutsy, hard-as-nails approach disguised a masterful football brain which would later be put to supreme use as coach of Essendon. As a player, it was evidenced in his uncanny ability to achieve the wood on ostensibly more talented opponents, often by the application of psychological methods which were not immediately susceptible to scrutiny.
Kevin Sheedy played 251 VFL games for Richmond between 1967 and 1979, kicking 91 goals; he won a best and fairest award in 1976, and was the Tigers' captain in 1978. A member of premiership teams in 1969, 1973 and 1974, Sheedy helped literally revolutionise the game by perfecting the use of back-spin with handball, effectively inventing the technique that all modern players use by default. It was obvious that he was a coach in the making, and in 1981 he took over from Barry Davis at the helm of the club he had supported as a boy, Essendon.
In just over a quarter of a century in charge of one of Australian football's bona fide power clubs Kevin Sheedy achieved everything the game has to offer, overseeing four premierships and being selected as All Australian or AFL All Australian coach on three occasions. In 2007, however, the powers that be at Essendon decided that it was time for a change, and at season's end Sheedy was replaced as coach by Matthew Knights.
Notwithstanding the somewhat disappointing climax to his career with the Bombers, Kevin Sheedy remains one of the the greatest and most influential figures both in the history of Essendon, and in the history of the game itself.
In 2012, at age 64, Sheedy entered a new phase, becoming the inaugural coach of the AFL's newest team, Greater Western Sydney. The club finished bottom of the ladder in his two years in charge but he undoubtedly laid down a solid foundation for his successor Leon Cameron to build upon.
Sheedy's achievements as player, coach and tireless promoter of the Australian football code received the ultimate acknowledgement in 2018 when he was elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Author - John Devaney, with updates by Andrew Gigacz