Sheedy’s AFL demand resonates with Giants

Minutes before the Giants played their first game for premiership points, coach Kevin Sheedy told the AFL minnows how to grow a backbone.

The moment was caught on camera and is clearly the mantra that has propelled them to their first finals series, just five seasons later.

“Don’t ever let any club or player dominate you at a ball, at a stoppage, in the air or on the ground,” Sheedy says in the team meeting.

“That is the essence of simple, bloody basic football.

“Now let’s get it going.”

The word “dominate” is yelled.

It was March 24, 2012 and cross-town rivals Sydney won that match at ANZ Stadium by 63 points.

Earlier this month, at the same venue and against the same opposition, the Giants won their first final.

It was a particularly-brutal clash that demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that no-one kicks the Giants around any more.

On Saturday, they will host the Western Bulldogs in a preliminary final.

“They’ve listened to it, haven’t they?,” Sheedy said with pride earlier this week.

“They haven’t been smashed a lot.

“I’m talking to a bunch of young players at a very different period of their life than now and they did not need to be stood over while they’re getting smashed.”

Sheedy, the legendary four-time Essendon premiership coach, was in charge at the Giants for two seasons before handing over to Leon Cameron.

It was a seamless succession, with the Giants improving each season before this year’s leap into the top four.

The way Sheedy handled the first season was classic psychology – rather than 22 games, the Giants were encouraged to break it down to 88 quarters.

“So we had 88 half-hour matches,” he said.

“That was the best way to train and get these boys never to lose their self-esteem and confidence (given) they were only one year out of Year 12.”

However bad the losses – and there were some big ones – the Giants were never squashed.

“It’s the best 40 losses I’ve ever had,” said Sheedy, who has since returned to Essendon in an executive role.

“Get them over and done with, keep playing the kids, refresh them, put them out and rest them and all of a sudden they’re a game off a grand final.”

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