Somewhere along their storied AFL careers, Kevin Sheedy thinks he and Mick Malthouse switched personas.
Sheedy has poked some friendly fun at his old Richmond teammate, as well as lavishing praise on Malthouse ahead of Friday night’s record achievement.
Malthouse will coach his 715th game when he guides Carlton against Collingwood, breaking the record held by Magpies legend Jock McHale.
After playing together at Richmond, Malthouse and Sheedy were long-time coaching rivals.
In some respects, they are two sides of the same coin.
The obvious difference is Sheedy’s public image as a lovable eccentric, compared to snarly, grumpy Mick.
But there are probably more similarities – ruthless, ultra-competitive coaching geniuses who are revered in the game.
They have also been remarkable survivors in a profession renowned for a lack of job security.
“I enjoy him looking grumpy, I must admit, because it makes me look happy sometimes,” Sheedy told AAP with a glint in his eye.
“When we were both at Richmond, he was the happiest guy you ever met.
“He was the guy mucking around all the time, him and Jimmy Jess, and I was probably the ultra-serious, grumpy person that Mick is now.
“We’ve somehow changed roles a little … I don’t know how it’s happened.”
Sheedy, a four-time premiership coach at Essendon, is third on the list behind Malthouse and McHale with 679 games.
He said Essendon probably snuck a flag in 1993 between Malthouse guiding West Coast to their first premierships in `92 and `94.
“They were always a challenge for us,” Sheedy said.
“It was always super-competitive between Mick and I.”
He particularly respects Malthouse for his resilience and wonders whether that was forged at Footscray, now the Western Bulldogs.
It was Malthouse’s first senior coaching job, from 1984-89, and he achieved plenty at a club with an under-achieving culture and minimal resources.
“That would have tested him and made him a really tough coach,” Sheedy said.
“That probably made him the resilient coach he is today.”
Sheedy also notes that Malthouse came agonisingly close to joining him as a four-time premiership coach, when Collingwood narrowly lost the 2002 grand final to Brisbane.
“It’s an absolutely fantastic effort,” Sheedy said of the record.
“Look, he’s resilient and the comment he makes I think is fair – his players always play pretty well for him.
“It’s a hard job, coaching.
“(So) to coach that long, to come out of the back blocks of Ballarat to do what he’s been able to achieve, it’s sensational and particularly his two premierships at West Coast, flying out every second week.”