Kevin Sheedy saved James Hird’s senior career before it began, urging Essendon to take a chance on the Canberra youngster against the counsel of others at the club.
Essendon’s long-time list and recruiting chief Adrian Dodoro has recounted a story from the early 1990s in which a young Hird, plucked from Ainslie at pick 79 in the 1990 draft, was almost cast aside amid doubts from some at the Bombers as to whether he would be able to make it.
But master coach Sheedy wasn’t going to let Hird slip through the cracks. According to Dodoro, Sheedy – at the time a dual premiership coach – reminded the other members of the Essendon brains trust that Hird’s grandfather Allan Hird snr had been a premiership player at the Dons before later becoming president of the club. The Allan T. Hird Stand at Windy Hill is named in his honour.
“We’re in a room, making the decision about the under-19 players going onto the senior list when I clearly remember a lot of people in the room thinking Hirdy wasn’t going to be good enough to be an AFL player,” Dodoro said in an interview played on the Working Through It podcast on Wednesday.