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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

BRIAN PEAKE
East Fremantle, 1972-81 and 1985-90, 304 games, 293 goals
Geelong, 1981-84 66 games, 49 goals
Perth, 1990, 10 games, six goals
22 games for Western Australia, 16 goals
East Fremantle Premiership 1974, 1979, 1985
East Fremantle Best and Fairest 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987
Sandover Medal 1977
East Fremantle captain 1979-81 and 1986-87
Geelong captain 1982
WA captain 1979, 1980, 1986, 1987
All Australian 1979 (captain), 1980, 1986 (captain)
Tassie Medal 1979
WA Football Hall of Fame inductee (2004)

Growing up in Perth, Brian Peake's hero was a pro surfer named Ian Cairns. He spent much of his time hitching rides to the beaches and the waves. He credits his surfing days for the body strength needed for AFL football. That strength also saw him avoid hamstring and groin injuries. “I believe that's where it set me up with the strength and for recovery. I never had a hamstring, didn't even know what they were. Knees, groins, it never happened. So the saltwater must do something for you.'' Two weeks after a failed tryout with Perth in an intra-club game, Peake was recruited to East Fremantle. As his career took off, he had to fend off offers from VFL (now AFL) teams. In 1981, at the age of 27, he finally decided to give the VFL a try to test himself and believes he would have regretted it if he had not. He chose Geelong thinking the lifestyle there would be the closest to that of Perth. Officials met him at the airport with a helicopter to fly him to his first training session. After just 13 games with the Cats, he was appointed captain.

Peake would have liked to have been selected for West Coast's inaugural team but takes missing out in stride, saying, “It would have been nice, but hey it's one hell of a journey for a kid that got told he was no good.". He described his induction into the Hall of Fame as the icing on the cake with a cherry.

Best player seen: "Leigh Matthews. Just his ability to get the ball given the size of the guy. I thought if he can make it, well I'm capable of that."

Best player played with: "Gary Ablett Sr. What he did on the football field was just unbelievable. I don't think anyone could stop him on his day, he was just too strong."

Best player played against: Leigh Matthews

MATTHEW LLOYD
Essendon, 270 games 1995-2009, 926 goals
Three games for Victoria, kicking eight goals
Four matches for Australia
Essendon Premiership 2000
Essendon preseason Premiership 2000
Essendon leading goal kicker 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009
Essendon captain 2006-2009
Jim Stynes Medal 2001
John Coleman Medal 2000, 2001, 2003
All Australian 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003

Lloyd was the quintessential forward - strong, quick and physical. That wasn't always the case. Lloyd remembers a game early in his career against the Western Bulldogs when defender Steve Kretiuk "terrorized" him. It was so bad, his coach Kevin Sheedy moved Bomber defender Dean Wallis to the forward line to look after Lloyd who had just two kicks for the game and was in tears coming off the ground. According to Lloyd, players were rarely tested so brutally at junior level. At the time, Lloyd says Sheedy took him aside and told him he wouldn't last one year if he didn't learn how to handle such treatment. Lloyd followed Sheedy's advice and toughened up. He learned to throw his weight around and earned the nickname the Velvet Sledgehammer.

Lloyd admits to not getting enjoy the fruits of his and Essendon's success very often, simply because he was too driven to get better. Early on, Lloyd admits he was largely motivated by his goal tally. That changed in 1999, when Essendon grew into a powerhouse. Lloyd was still kicking goals, but was enjoying the wins more. On the flip side, the losses were hurting more, perhaps the worst being the 1999 Preliminary Final when the Bombers were defeated by a solitary point by Carlton. It is the loss that still haunts Lloyd to this day. Lloyd was a central figure in the 2000 Grand Final when he kicked four goals to help steer the all-conquering Bombers to a ten goal victory over Melbourne. Of that day he says, "There was a time in the fourth quarter ... I turned to James Hird and we just looked at each other and laughed with excitement. It was like 'How exciting is this? We've just won a premiership!' That moment I'll never forget."

He literally kicked off his reign as captain in style in 2006l, booting eight goals against Sydney. Two weeks later, he suffered a severe injury, tearing his hamstring from the bone and his season was over. He returned in 2007 and kicked 62 goals, and again in 2008. But the Bombers were on a slide. External doubts were surrounding the club, Lloyd had doubts of his own and admits it was a challenging time for himself and the team. His career ended somewhat ingloriously in the final round of 2009. A heavy bump on Hawk Brad Sewell saw him cop a four week suspension which would have been served at the beginning of 2010 had he not announced his retirement. The Bombers made the Finals but were without Lloyd who had the support of people he respected, "James Hird and Dermott Brereton left messages on my phone after the game, viewing it as an act of leadership which changed the course of the game. It's something I'm not embarrassed about, because I did something for my team when it needed to be done."

Of his induction he said, "I'm humbled ... because I never thought I was anything big or thought I was worthy of any accolades. It caps off my career. " He said the induction would be one of the highlights of his life. He was effusive in the many thanks to his wife and children for their support over the years and repeatedly praised Kevin Sheedy for helping him realized his full potential. Lloyd is now a respected member of the media.

BRYAN SHEEHAN
363 games umpired 1986-2003
37 finals including six Grand Finals 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997
Five State of Origin matches
Two International Rules Series

Sheehan would have loved to have had a playing career of his own, but as a haemophiliac, he was unable to play contact sport. It didn't stop him as a boy, often hiding football boots in his bag and trying play a a few games. He finally realized to continue would be risking his health. He did the next best thing, starting his umpiring career in the Dandenong and District Football League. He eventually graduated to the VFL cadets and umpired his first VFL game in 1986. His philosophy was that umpires should be seen, not heard. He believed in adding to the game not detracting from it.

Sheehan, an AFL Life Member, still recalls his first Grand Final in 1988 when fellow umpire Peter Cameron grabbed him, spun him around 360 degrees and told him to take it all in. "This is what it is all about," he told Sheehan. It was the following Grand Final Sheehan remembers best. Of the brutal 1989 encounter, Sheehan said it really was a game of attrition, "Peter (Carey) had bounced the ball and it went down to Ablett who kicked a goal. I turned around and Dermott was on the ground. I thought 'Oh, my God. I was expecting all of the players to come in (to retaliate).Then I realized that no one had actually seen it. Sheehan reported Robert DiPierdomenico for striking Garry Hocking in the game ... From an umpiring perspective, it was just trying to control the game by paying free kicks ... it was a warm day and close towards the end, we were just trying to maintain concentration. There were only two of us in charge".

As memorable as the game was, Sheehan said it was also the most taxing of his career with Sheehan just sitting in the rooms for close to an hour afterward, too exhausted to move. The fundamentals he followed in that game also were the same for most of his career. He explained, "The secret was to pay the blatant and obvious stuff, have a good feel for the game, and knowing when to intervene and when not to."

He was also the emergency umpire in the 1990 Grand Final (between Essendon and Collingwood), but was called upon to run onto the ground to try and break up the infamous quarter time melee. He said he was carrying some dressing gowns out for the break when he saw the brawl erupt, “They were punching the cr*p out of each other. I just dumped everything ... and ran over to make a couple of reports.''

Sheehan saw plenty of changes during his whistle-blowing days. When he began, it was the VFL with just 12 teams, 11 in Melbourne, and the Geelong Cats. He debuted in a St Kilda game, in the mud at the Saints' homeground, Moorabbin. He finished under the Etihad roof. Only two grounds had large video screens, now they are everywhere and allow for more scrutiny than ever before. Sheehan was on the sub-committee which put forth the recommendation that a third field umpire be introduced. That recommendation was implemented in 1994. Sheehan believes the third umpire helped prolong his own career.

Sheehan believes he had a good relationship with the players and understood the pressures they faced on the ground. He also has the respect of the players and coaches. This is evident by this story he related. it was the evening of the 1996 Preliminary Final in which Tony Lockett kicked a point after the siren to defeat Essendon. Sheehan, who was near Lockett when he kicked the point, and the other umpires ran into Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy and then Bomber captain Gary O'Donnell near their hotel after the game. Sheedy and O'Donnell invited the umpires back to their hotel for a drink, "To have the losing coach and the losing captain do that meant a lot to us.''

Sheehan, now a full-time umpire assistant coach with the AFL, rates Gary Ablett Sr as the best player he has seen and Brett Allen and Brett Rosebury among the best umpires. He is also encouraging of anyone with disabilities such as his to take up umpiring if they cannot play. He said it is a great journey. Of his induction he said he never felt worthy of the Hall of Fame and was happy with his life membership, but is thrilled with the honor. He also said it is a wonderful game and was thankful for the opportunities it provided him.

Source: afl.com.au, heraldsun.com.au, adelaidenow.com.au, sen.com.au

Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 4:20 PM EDT


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