CHAMPION EFFORT: Gary Ablett of the Gold Coast Suns takes a mark yesterday during the victory over the Greater Western Sydney Giants, coached by Kevin Sheedy (inset).
CHAMPION EFFORT: Gary Ablett of the Gold Coast Suns takes a mark yesterday during the victory over the Greater Western Sydney Giants, coached by Kevin Sheedy (inset). Chris Hyde

Sheedy leaves GWS happy

KEVIN Sheedy has been a giant of Australian rules football.

In his 52 seasons as a player and coach, he won seven premierships - three as a player with Richmond and four as a coach with Essendon.

He may have signed off as coach of the Giants with an 83-point loss to the Suns at the Gold Coast yesterday, but he will be remembered for a lot more than that.

Sheedy's out-of-the box thinking was a driving force behind the hugely-successful Anzac Day games between Essendon and Collingwood, of the present day interchange system and of the annual International Rules series against Ireland.

He was also one of the first AFL coaches to recognise and embrace the magic that indigenous players could bring to the game.

Despite yesterday's loss, which consigned the Giants to their second consecutive wooden spoon, the 65-year-old said he had loved his time in Sydney, describing having the chance to start a club from scratch in rugby league heartland as "one of the best things I've ever done".

Fittingly he was given a guard of honour at the end of the game by players from both teams, shaking hands with just one, Suns captain Gary Ablett, on his way through.

It may have been a congratulatory handshake in anticipation of a second Brownlow Medal after the champion on-baller almost certainly pocketed another three votes with a brilliant 33 possession, four-goal effort.



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