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Kevin Sheedy waving the scarf

There are many adjectives one could use to describe Kevin Sheedy - pioneer, ambassador, quirky, madcap, innovator, eccentric, master coach, a legend in his own time. Now the latter is official as Sheedy, already in the Hall of Fame, was elevated to Legend Status. He becomes the 28th Legend.

The 2018 AFL Hall of Fame ceremonies were held on the Tuesday evening after Round 10. Along with Sheedy's elevation, six players were inducted - Terry Wallace, David Neitz, Wayne Johnston, Matthew Scarlett, Mel Whinnen (WA) and Bernie Naylor (WA).

Ironically, Sheedy was rejected by Essendon (the club he supported growing up) as a player and joined Richmond, coached by another legendary figure in Tommy Hafey. Hafey once labeled Sheedy as "a back pocket plumber" , but Sheedy was a tough defender and Hafey played a big part in his career, "Tom taught me how to have an attitude. That's the best skill he gave me," Sheedy said and described Hafey as a great coach.

He said he got more satisfaction as a coach, quipping, "Playing, I knew what I was doing. Coaching, I had no idea what I was doing." He was a visionary, bringing the idea of Anzac Day to the AFL and making it happen. He was also a great champion of indigenous players. At the time he got Essendon to bring Michael Long from the Tiwi Islands to the club, there were less than 30 indigenous players on club lists. Since then, there have been over 300.

Regarding his tenure at Essendon, he quipped, "Only two people in the world did 27 years: Nelson Mandela and myself."

251 games for Richmond, 1967-79, kicking 91 goals
Eight games for Victoria, kicking one goal
Richmond premierships 1969, 1973-74
Richmond Best and Fairest 1976
Richmond Captain 1978
Richmond Team of the Century, Back Pocket
Essendon coach 1981-2007, 635 games
GWS Giants coach 2012-13, 44 games
Victoria coach 1985-86, four games
All Australian Coach 1984, 1985, 1993, 2000
Australian International Rules coach 2005-06, four games
Essendon premierships /Jock McHale Medalist 1984-85, 1993, 2000
Essendon preseason premierships 1981, 1984, 1990, 1993-94, 2000
Essendon Team of the Century, Coach
Australian Football Hall of Fame Inductee – 2008
AFL Life Member

Six players were also inducted into the Hall of Fame in Tuesday night's gala ceremony at Crown Palladium: outstanding Geelong defender Matthew Scarlett, Carlton great Wayne Johnston, Hawthorn and Footscray star Terry Wallace, Melbourne key forward David Neitz and iconic West Australians Mel Whinnen and Bernie Naylor.

Now an assistant coach with the Cats, the club he and his father played for, Scarlett became one of the best fullbacks in the game. So much so, former Essendon forward Matthew Lloyd joked that he had sleepless nights when he knew he was going up against Scarlett. Instead of just negating his opponent, he would often rack up possessions himself to help launch Cat attacks from defense. His influence was such that often opposition coaches would assign a player to him in an effort to quell his influence on the game. As a kid, one of Scarlett's heroes was Essendon and Port champion Gavin Wanganeen who was a noted rebounding defender. Scarlett based his game on that of his hero. 

Perhaps his most famous moment is that toe poke in the dying minutes of the 2009 Grand Final, when the Cats edged out St Kilda in a thriller, "I'm still not sure why I did it. The ball was sitting up. I could've just grabbed it and handballed it off. Luckily enough, it went to a great player (Gary Ablett)," Scarlett said.

His will to beat his direct opponent made him one of the toughest defenders to ever play on. "I was a little bit competitive at times. I loved playing on all the great forwards," Scarlett said. And he constantly pushed himself to improve and he believes that trait was a main reason for his consistency. Reluctant to talk about himself, he paid tribute to to family, teammates and coaches for the player he became, "It's more a reflection of the people I've had around me than anything I've done. Footy is hard on your family, and my wife (Milla) and (four) children have been amazing. And I've been blessed to play for a great club with great leaders, great coaches and great teammates who made my job very easy at times. And I was lucky to play in such a wonderful backline. It was a great brotherhood - a team within a team. We were best mates off the field and it transferred on to the field. We'd do anything for each other."

It was not always the case, as Lloyd kicked six and five goals respectively on Scarlett in the first two games the pair were opposed to each other. it showed just how much work he needed to do to get better. Lloyd said Scarlett, at first, was "...skinny as a toothpick ..." and Lloyd never thought Scarlett would be a champion. Soon, however, Lloyd saw a marked change in Scarlett and realized he could be a real player.

Geelong 1998-2012 
Games 284 
Goals 17 
Honors:Best and fairest 2003; All-Australian 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011; premiership team 2007, 2009, 2011; Victorian representative (1 game, 0 goals); International Rules representative (3 games, 0 goals); AFL life member

Physical presence, courage and exceptional leadership made Neitz a greatly admired player at Melbourne. He began his career as an athletic defender. As he filled out and got bigger, he would often switch between defense and forward before finally shifting to the forward line. He played with a brutal physicality, once hitting Hawk Luke McCabe so hard - in a legitimate bump - that McCabe suffered a broken collarbone. At Tuesday's function, Neitz said that physicality was already part of his game even as a 15-year old playing in the Under-19 competition, saying a bump he laid on the opposition captain saw the latter stretchered off the ground. Of that physical presence, he said, "It's all about playing the ball and what you needed to do. It is a brutal game, a body-contact sport and as a big player you needed to have a presence on the field and I didn't shy away from that ... ".

Neitz is philosophical about not winning a flag with the Demons. Beating Carlton in front of 75,000 fans in the 2000 preliminary final was one of the great thrills of his career. Of the 2000 Grand Final, he said: "It was the best day and the worst day all wrapped up in one. "I guess in the Neale Daniher (coaching) era, we had an element of success by playing a lot of finals. We were really well led by Neale at a time the club had a large turnover of presidents and chief executives, but we were able to keep the footy department pretty stable thanks to Neale and (assistant coach) Chris Fagan." He also said that the induction was the proudest individual honor he has received. 

Melbourne 1993-2008 
Games 306 (club record)
Goals 631 (club record)
Player honors Best and fairest 2002; Coleman Medal 2002 only one at Melbourne); leading goalkicker 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006; All-Australian 1995, 2002; Victorian representative (2 games, 0 goals); International Rules representative (3 games, 0 goals); captain 2000-08; AFL life member 

His nickname was the Dominator, but the moniker did not come from his on-field exploits, but rather from one rather boisterous night out with teammates. However, that didn't mean he didn't dominate on the field. He gained a reputation as one of the game's all time great finals players. The bigger the game, the bigger he was. He loved the big crowds and September. He could play forward and in the midfield and was instrumental in a dominant era for the Carlton Blues. He is the only player of that era to be a part of the 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1987 premiership sides.

Johnston's refusal to fail helped him perform when it counted, "There were things I would do that people couldn’t stop me from doing, and good luck trying ... I was well coached, I had good coaches, I trusted the game plan, I trusted my players, and then also I had non-negotiables ... ", he said. When the Blues needed an inspirational act, Johnston would comply with a brilliant tackle or smother, or bursting clear from a stoppage and kicking a long goal, sometimes from outside the 50 meter arc (55 yards). There was very little he could not do. He was ahead of his time with his defensive pressure on opposition defenders.

However, that was not always the case. He was rejected by Carlton in 1978 and returned to his local VFA club Prahran and starred in that year's premiership under the coach Mick Erwin. Erwin was instrumental in helping Johnston improve his fitness and make changes to the way he played the game. At the end of the year, Melbourne was interested, but he was zoned to Carlton and a move to the Demons would require a clearance from the Blues. Captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko declared that no player would receive a clearance until he could see them in action. In several practice games, Johnston was opposed to Jezza, but still kicked a swag of goals and the rest is history. He debuted against Essendon and kicked two goals in two minutes against fellow debutant Neale Daniher (later coach of Melbourne).

1982 and 1987 are perfect illustrations of the influence Johnston exerted in big games. He was suspended for striking the 1982 qualifying final but he returned for the next two finals and the Grand Final against Richmond. He set the tone in a frenetic opening, kicking the first goal and setting up the next two. The Blues won by that margin of 18 points. Johnston also subdued star Tigers midfielder Geoff Raines and was considered unlucky not to win the Norm Smith Medal.

It was a similar story in 1987. Johnston alerted umpire Ian Robinson that Hawthorn had five players in the center square and won a free kick before the opening bounce. He kicked the first two goals and he and the Blues never looked back. 

Johnston, who had offers to go elsewhere including Collingwood, is proud to be a one-club player. Johnston, now 60, is pleases to be recognized, "This is the missing link and it means a lot to me and my family."

Carlton 1979-90 
Games 209 
Goals 283 
Honors: Best and fairest 1983, 1986 (equal); leading goalkicker 1980; premiership team 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987; All-Australian 1987; Victorian representative (5 games, 3 goals); International Rules representative (3 games, 0 goals); captain 1984-85; Carlton Team of the Century; Carlton Hall of Fame (Legend) 

Allan Melvyn 'Mel' Whinnen learned his ball skills from his father Allan Sr., who had played for West Perth's crosstown rival East Perth. When Mel joined West Perth, Dad changed his allegiance to follow his son. At 17, Whinnen progressed through the under-19s and the reserves to soon be in the senior side. While the senior team won the premiership that year, young Mel spent the game on the bench. He had plenty of chances over the next years and retired commentator Dennis Cometti - a teammate of Mel's - noted that Whinnen was named in the best three players for West Perth in 13 of the next 21 finals matches. He was nicknamed "Slippery" for evasive skills to avoid would-be tacklers. And he was also extremely fast. Whinnen, suggested in typically self-deprecating fashion: "Perhaps it was fear that helped me run quicker to get away from players who wanted to tackle me."

Of his career, he said, "I was a local West Perth boy, I loved the club and loved watching my heroes play - and then I got to play with them. How lucky was I? ... I just enjoyed my footy. I'd enjoyed it from a very young age and I was lucky with injuries too." He credits much of his success to the heavy work of Farmer and, in particular, fellow ruck great Bill Dempsey, "Bill and I were like brothers - we knew one another like the backs of our hands," Whinnen said. Whinnen attributed his longevity to training hard and good fortune in avoiding injuries, although he was once sidelined after getting a finger caught in a lawnmower. Getting to training was never an issue, either, given Whinnen worked nearby with the WA water authority.

Whinnen's advice to to those hoping for a long career, "I don't know whether there's any secrets. I guess I did enjoy training. I tried to train to the best of my ability. Tried to do those things that the coaches would try to get us to do, particularly during the 'Polly' Farmer era (as coach). He trained us very hard and very long."

Whinnen is a very modest man, one of the game's great gentlemen, who played with unswerving fairness. When he learned of he was to be inducted, felt he was not worthy of the honor, "I'm surprised I was even considered," Whinnen, 75, told the AFL Record. "It's very special, and it's beaut for my family and my club."

Whinnen is a very modest man, one of the game's great gentlemen, who played with unswerving fairness. When he learned of he was to be inducted, felt he was not worthy of the honor, "I'm surprised I was even considered," Whinnen, 75, told the AFL Record. "It's very special, and it's beaut for my family and my club."

Retired commentator Dennis Cometti, who was Whinnen's teammate in 1967-68. compensates for Whinnen's modesty, "Mel has probably been the best player at one of the two most famous clubs in Western Australia. Mel was a wonderful player who had this "Ablettesque" quality where he'd be running full pelt with the ball and stop suddenly and go the other way, and it would throw everyone out. I've only seen three or four players do that," Cometti said.

In the mid-60's, several Victorian clubs were interested in Whinnen with North Melbourne offering a lucrative deal. He never considered leaving WA as he was not fond of the cooler climate. Nor was he fond of the mud at the MCG during several state games against Victoria, "I was pretty happy with life in Perth. Family, work and footy all fit together well," he said.

West Perth 1960-77 
Games 371 (a league record)
Goals 72 
Honors: 2nd Sandover Medal* 1964, 1971; best and fairest 1962, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 a league record); premiership team 1960, 1969, 1971, 1975; Simpson Medal** 1975; West Australian representative (14 games, 1 goal); captain 1977; West Australian Football Hall of Fame, MBE for services to football (1976)

*WA Brownlow equivalent
**WA Norm Smith Medal equivalent

Modern day fans know Wallace as the former coach of the Western Bulldogs and Richmond, but he was also a star midfielder for Hawthorn. Hawthorn got him from the VFA at a bargain-basement price - "a set of steak knives" in a deal for Hawk Gerry McCarthy. He had been zoned to Fitzroy, but they were not interested. His nickname "Plough" came from teammate Russell Greene during a particularly muddy training session. Wallace kept burrowing into the mud to get the ball and Greene shouted, "Look at him. He's a plough."

He was ahead of his time with his professionalism in an era when players had full-time jobs outside of football, At the induction ceremony, he said, "I actually dedicated myself, for about a five-year period, to just playing ... The early part of the week was 100 per cent about recovery, getting yourself right, deep water running and doing all those sort of things. Later in the week, working on extra running sessions, extra weights sessions to be able to get myself up ... "I was fitter and stronger than most of the blokes I was playing on."

He debuted in 1978 and played every game that season, but suffered a series of knee injuries in 1980. His career was on the line. Enter Allan Jeans as coach, "When 'Yab' arrived, I was at my absolute most fervent and he was looking for a ruthless edge with the players he wanted in the side. He saw me working my backside off. He gave me an opportunity and I blossomed under that."

Wallace left the Hawks after their 1986 premiership, having had a falling out with Jeans. He He spent an injury-riddled season with Richmond, which he calls "an unmitigated disaster" before finishing his career with four excellent seasons at Footscray (now Western Bulldogs). After his coaching stints, Wallace entered the media and is now a respected analyst with SEN. He is as obsessive about football as ever, "I still have every footy card I ever owned, and I still watch nine games of footy every weekend. "I have always been absolutely fanatical about the game, so to be given an honor like this is just unbelievable."

Clubs: Hawthorn, Richmond, Western Bulldogs 
Playing career 1978-91 
Games 254 
Goals 123 
Playing Honors: Hawthorn best and fairest 1981, 1983; Western Bulldogs best and fairest 1988, 1989; All-Australian 1982, 1983, 1988; Hawthorn premiership team 1978, 1983, 1986; Victorian representative (7 games, 5 goals); AFL life member 
Coaching record: Western Bulldogs 1996-2002 (148 games, 79 wins, 67 losses, 2 draws); Richmond 2005-09 (99 games, 37 wins, 60l

He was one of those glamor forwards and a a prodigious goalkicker, He kicked 6.5 on debut in 1941 and 60 for the season. He once kicked 23 goals in a single match in 1953, 12 of those came in a single quarter.; He also holds the record of most goals in a single season with 167. He was sometimes referred to as the John Coleman of West Australia. He was quick, had sure hands, read the play well and could take a strong mark (catch of the ball). One reason he was so deadly accurate in front of goals was that he practiced religiously from 40-45 yards out focusing on his "rhythm and timing". When World War II interrupted his career, he served as a signal man in Darwin and New Guinea. That did not stop him from practicing. He practiced kicking through a pair of palm trees. After the war, he quickly made up for lost time, leading the league for goals with 131 in 1946.He would top the "ton" four more times over his career. 

Naylor did not like the spotlight and preferred to let his playing do the talking. When pressed to reveal the secret to his success, he always gave credit to his teammates.

Naylor passed away in 1993 at the age of 70, but his widow Pat and daughter were in attendance to accept the honor, "It's absolutely wonderful. The whole family is over the moon," Naylor's widow Pat told the AFL Record. According to Pat, he was also an amateur meteorologist, On Friday nights and Saturday mornings he'd check the sky and the weather, because he wasn't a wet-weather player."

Daughter Anne Lemmone said, "We've been waiting for this for a long time and it's just a privilege and an honor ... He was just a sportsperson that didn't speak a lot about his accomplishments. Bernie never played football for any rewards - he just played for the love of the game. He was so modest that whenever he went to a football function he'd say, 'I just want to take a back seat so that no one would even know I was there. He probably wouldn't show it, but if he was still here he'd be thrilled to bits."

The Bernie Naylor Medal is awarded to the WAFL's leading goalkicker.

Club: South Fremantle, 1941, 1946-54 
Games 194 
Goals 1034 
Honors: Best and fairest 1953; leading goalkicker 1941, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954; WAFL leading goalkicker 1946, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1953, 1954; premiership team 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954; West Australian representative (16 games, 44 goals); West Australian Football Hall of Fame 


Article last changed on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 - 2:01 PM EDT

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