Kevin Sheedy has always been the Great
Survivor. There have been times when he has lost his way and been carried by
the players, or been lined up for the sack by the Board but somehow survived.
But for the first time that this correspondent can remember, there are some truly
mystifying decisions emerging from Windy Hill.

Like the suggestion that Matthew Lloyd
might play this year. When the Bombers’ captain and champion full forward tore
his hammie off the bone early in the season, it was a massive blow for the
club, and it was universally accepted that he was almost certainly gone for the
whole year. But late last week, the story emerged that Lloyd was back in
training and possibly capable of playing.

Why? What would make Sheedy and his match
committee risk the long term future of an all-time club great, for the mediocre
return of a few fan-pleasing goals at the end of a dud season? All that’s left
for Essendon is to see if they finish last or second-last this year. If Lloyd
was to return prematurely and re-injure his hamstring, he could lose part or
all of 2007. When he does return, he needs to be rock solid, 100 per cent fit, not
performing as sideshow entertainment for disgruntled Bomber fans.

Today’s Agealso says that the Bombers have not given up on Dean Rioli playing two of the
last three games to achieve 100 games before he retires.

No ill will to Rioli, but the
self-indulgence in nursing him to life membership is very un-Bomber like. The
point may be to ensure any Rioli sons can become Bombers under the father-son
rule, but in the same week Dean Solomon was apparently dropped for a minor
discipline breach, why would Essendon so obviously make a soft selection? How
will fans react to that?

Sheedy was all over the Hun
today, warning that non-Victorian clubs threaten to rule the AFL forever. This was the Sheedy we know: cunningly diverting attention off his
under-performed team to the bigger picture. Only three weeks to go, Kev.

Peter Fray

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