2007: Sheedy reinvents the real Bombers

Sheedy reinvents the real Bombers

Source: Foxsports

By Patrick Smith from Theaustralian

KEVIN Sheedy is doing it again. Reinventing the Bombers.

His club sits in second place on the ladder with two victories that have excited not just Essendon fans but football supporters in general. Sheedy is in his 27th year as coach. He may not have done the job any better than he is doing it right now.

The way Essendon is playing this season bears no resemblance to what the club did last year. After two rounds Essendon is undefeated and in second place. Last year it won just three matches and drew another with the village idiot, Carlton.

The strengths of Essendon in 2007 have generally been identified. The team is quicker with the speed of new players Alwyn Davey and Leroy Jetta, the tackling has improved, and Mal Michael is helping at the back. It is how all these elements are being put together that is the key to the Essendon revolution.

The tackling improvement has hardly come by chance. If Essendon runs three training sessions a week, a segment of two of them would be devoted to a tackling drill devised by assistant coach Dean Wallis.

The players do the routine in groups of six and in a confined space. A player with the ball must try to beat a teammate standing five metres in front of him. If the player with the ball looks as though he might break the tackle, a third Essendon player will come in and a gang tackle is completed. Each player does it four times and then the group of six rotated.

What is extraordinary about this drill is the heavy repetition and absence of tackling bags. No player wears protective equipment. It is body on body.

Michael’s recruitment has allowed Sheedy to free up Dustin Fletcher, and the Bombers have tried to settle their back six of Mark Johnson, Michael, Patrick Ryder, Adam McPhee, Fletcher and Mark McVeigh.

Henry Slattery is on standby to relieve the workload. As well, the two wingmen push back to make an eight-man defence. The midfield mix of David Hille, Jason Laycock, Damien Peverill, James Hird, Jobe Watson and Jason Winderlich does not often push deep into attack. Winderlich provides the speed, Peverill the tag. With four midfield players and eight defenders, Essendon has a rolling 12-man defence that controls the back half.

Sheedy has dramatically changed the way the club will move the ball from defence. Unlike the modern trend of running the ball out in waves of handballs, Essendon is instructed to spread the ball with 20- to 30-metre kicks. That Sheedy has turned this part of Essendon’s game plan on its head is apparent in the statistics. This year the Bombers are first in kicks and marks and last in handballs. Last year it was 10th in both kicks and marks but sixth in handballs.

Essendon has had 469 kicks this year and just 203 handballs. In winning the grand final last year the Eagles ran up 198 kicks and 175 handballs. As I said, it is a revolution at Windy Hill.

It is from the centre onwards that Sheedy has dramatically changed the forward set-up. Essendon does not play with a traditional centre half-forward. Sheedy has established Jetta, Davey and Andy Lovett across half-forward. The injured Courtney Dempsey, small and quick, is being groomed to help out as well. It is a very quick and unpredictable collection of players that fully tests opposition resources.

Essendon uses these fast players as targets about 60-to-70m out from goal. In the jargon of football they are hit-up men. Once they get the ball their job is to find Matthew Lloyd or Scott Lucas.

Lloyd will start in the goalsquare and Lucas close by. The two key forwards will move up the ground and the hitup men look to find them in the space created at the back.

Andrew Welsh has been turned from a defender into a forward. He has a specific task and that is to make life easier for Lloyd and Lucas. A replacement will have to be found for Welsh because he has a strained hamstring, but the role will not change.

The two best opposition defenders will take on Lloyd and Lucas, and Welsh’s job was to draw the third defender - make him accountable and not allow him to assist his teammates on Lucas and Lloyd. Against Adelaide in round one, Welsh drew Nathan Bassett away from Lucas and the forward kicked seven goals. Welsh even kicked one himself.

There are variations on all of this, of course. Essendon likes to release Lovett to a stoppage in the back half and get the ball to him. With his speed he can break through the centre of the ground, as he did three times against Fremantle.

The Bombers will play tempo football and Lloyd and Lucas will push out of the 50m arc to help use the ball when they do. And Hille or Laycock can push forward into attack and not back to fill the hole in defence.

And then there is John Barnes. Essendon uses him as its on-field coach and there is a theory he calls the plays at stoppages. He will often start on the wing and move into the opposition forward line. He can be as effective as a 19th man.

Sheedy has been coach of the international team. Observers say he spent his time talking to players and picking their brains. There are certainly elements of the Gaelic game that are evident in Essendon’s modus operandi . Small and quick players, movement more by foot than hand.

I said before the season that Sheedy was one to watch this year. He is a master coach in the last year of his contract

We lost to Carlton that round by 3 points




And when he wasn’t given a new one smith and the other morons said he was ‘sacked’.

Davey to CHF was a Sheedy move!


Technically it was a contract not renewed. In the real world he was sacked.

That article was right. We played well for the first part of 2007. The team really looked good. It all went pear-shaped when all the crap started about will he or won’t he be sacked. In fact half the board had decided to sack him before the season started. Idiots.


Did he see out his contract? Yes.

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Should’ve been gone well before then imo.


That Dean Wallis sounds like a switched on operator. Looking forward to him getting more senior roles with more responsibility and taking us places in the future.


You lost me at by Patrick Smith


After being 38 points up!


Captain of spreadsheets

The first half of 2007 was really weird. We beat all of the previous year’s top 4, yet we choked to FC, got smashed by North and Hawthorn, and came very close to giving Richmond their first win of the year.

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Yeah. I really hope we don’t spend money on useless stuff like Microsoft Excel training (as has been rumoured by the L&D pencil pushers). Wallis doesn’t need ■■■■ like that. Let’s scrimp and save up for something really radical, like a supplements program. That would definitely help.

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I agree that there were times when it would have been right not to renew his contract. He was coach for far too long. His contract should not have been renewed in 2004 or 2005 or whenever it was, and it wouldn’t have been wrong to let him go in the mid-90s. .

But Sheedy had a talent for building a team that could win a premiership. After the débacle of the 1990 grand final he threw out most of the remains of the 1984-85 teams and built a new one that won the flag in 1993. Then he built the 2000 team, but let it fall apart in the following years. In 2007 he was on the way to another flag – if not that year, then the one after. What really ■■■■■■ me off was that the Board decided to sack him before the season even started, and then when word got out the season fell apart.

Sheedy was in charge for far too long, but 2007 was not the right time to sack him.

The beginning of the ‘season derailing loss to Fark Carlton in Round 3’ era


I would argue the wheels really fell off when we looked likely to inflict Geelong’s first loss in forever but lost a whole bunch of players to injury including Hird and Davey.

Couldn’t recover our momentum from then on and Sheedy’s fate was sealed.


Yeah I also hope we demand all applicants be in a position to bring their own laptop to a job interview and not accept them just putting their presentation on a usb stick. It is 2007 after all and a prospective head coach couldn’t fit an entire powerpoint on a 256mb drive.

Man that was a real bit of nostalgia. Went to that Round 3 Carlton game expecting big things. Horrible day.

It was a fun enough year at the footy 2007, but Sheedy had checked out years ago. I re-watched our epic win over WC from that season in Lockdown 1. One my all time favourite games I’ve seen live. It was still as exciting as hell, but it was just so plain to see that we were playing a tragically outdated game style.

You take out the Hird heroics and Scotty Lucas being in career best form and we’d have been bottom 4 in 2007.

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In 2007 he was on the way to another flag – if not that year, then the one after. What really ■■■■■■ me off was that the Board decided to sack him before the season even started, and then when word got out the season fell apart.

Disagree on that.

Is it your view that Clarkson has also been ‘sacked’?

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