Essendon and Collingwood coaching legends Kevin Sheedy and Mick Malthouse have selected their best ANZAC Day sides from both the Bombers and the Magpies.
Ahead of the 25th ANZAC Day clash between both sides, both of the premiership coaches were tasked with the decision of choosing their best 22 for each club, directly based on their influence and impact in ANZAC Day matches.
Both Sheedy and Malthouse had massive involvements in the blockbuster match-ups, with the former Richmond teammates coaching in 13 and 12 of the clashes respectively.
Sheedy was one of the chief architects in the birth of the ANZAC Day match, which commenced in 1995. What started as an idea has evolved into one of the most significant days in the Australian sporting landscape.
Malthouse reiterated this view, and described where the day and match sit in terms of importance.
“To me, ANZAC Day is the most important day of the year (in terms of Australia’s heritage). In a footy sense, it is only marginally behind a preliminary final, which I actually put in front of a Grand Final in terms of having the pure football barrackers there,” the former Collingwood coach told the Herald Sun.
Looking back on the 24 previous Anzac Day matches, Sheedy and Malthouse were able to create their teams, composed of the best players to have the honour of playing on the cherished day.
“This would be a great game between very good sides,” Malthouse said.
Sheedy’s Best Team:
Backs: Gary O’Donnell, Dustin Fletcher, Cale Hooker
Half Backs: Dyson Heppell, Sean Wellman, Nathan Lovett-Murray
Centre: David Zaharakis, Joe Misiti, Andrew Lovett
Half Forwards: Mark Mercuri, Scott Lucas, James Hird
Forwards: Jason Johnson, Matthew Lloyd, Black Caracella
Rucks: Paddy Ryder, Jobe Watson, Sean Denham
Interchange: Joe Daniher, Paul Barnard, Brent Stanton, Mark Mcveigh
Emergencies: Mark Johnson, Adam McPhee, Che Cockatoo-Collins
Sheedy’s team includes a flurry of club greats, ANZAC medalists and current players, all of whom have been able to make profound impacts in the red and black on April 25.
James Hird was perhaps the most notable ANZAC Day competitor of all, with three ANZAC Day medals signifying the presence he had in the matches.
“He lived in a house almost across the road from the Australian War Memorial (in Canberra).”
“Kick to kick for him would have been in the shadows of that magnificent building. He was an absolute star,” Sheedy said.
Also featuring was Essendon captain Dyson Heppell.
“He’s been a good captain. He is still finding his right position because the group is still forming as a team, but he’s played extremely well on ANZAC Day.”
Meanwhile, Malthouse’s team isn’t deprived of an array of Magpie stars either.
Malthouse’s Best Team:
Backs: Chris Tarrant, Simon Prestigiacomo, Ben Johnson,
Half Backs: Heath Shaw, James Clement, Scott Burns
Centre: Steele Sidebottom, Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury
Half Forwards: Alan Didak, Anthony Rocca, Adam Treloar
Forwards: Paul Williams, Saverio Rocca, Leon Davis
Rucks: Darren Jolly, Nathan Buckley, Paul Licuria
Interchange: Shane O’Bree, Mark McGough, Travis Cloke, Damian Monkhorst
Emergencies: Tarkyn Lockyer, Dale Thomas, Gavin Brown
The 2010 premiership coach’s side includes a list of black and white champions, including Anthony Rocca, Dane Swan and Nathan Buckley.
“Brilliant. He had outstanding kicking power, was a ball accumulator and was very tough,” Malthouse said about Buckley.
“Took a lot of tags and never complained about them. Got on with the job.”
Malthouse also reserved high praise for former Pies forward Rocca, who played in 10 ANZAC Day matches.
“The heart and soul of any Collingwood side I have coached. Not only a magnificent person, but the most highly-regarded player in our football club.”
With the hypothetical match-up appearing extremely mouth-watering, Thursday’s clash between both current sides looms just as enticing.