Hird's pre-match address not enough - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hird's pre-match address not enough

By Sam Lienert 26/04/2008 10:56:09 AM Comments (0)

Whatever James Hird's abilities are as a motivational speaker, they are clearly not as inspirational as what the former Essendon champion could do on an AFL playing field.

The three-time Anzac Day medallist addressed his old club pre-match on Friday, in what was the first staging of the annual clash against Collingwood since his retirement.

But Essendon ended up on the wrong end of the most lopsided result in the history of Anzac Day matches between the two clubs, which stretches back to 1995.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that the 73-point thrashing occurred on Hird's first season out of the game, as Bombers coach Matthew Knights said the areas in which Essendon were deficient Friday were the same aspects of the game Hird had exemplified as a player.

Knights said Hird had tried to impress those areas on the playing group in his pre-match address.

"He spoke about some of the themes he used to get himself up for Anzac Day," Knights said.

"A little bit about the build-up and not to get wound up too early, to time your run and a few themes about keeping your eye on the ball and staying low, just what typified (him) and what he hung his hat on as a player.

"He played with courage both in the air and on the ground and the way he ran and we certainly got outpointed in those areas today."

Hird had done more than any other player to make the occasion his own, averaging 24 disposals and two goals in 10 Anzac Day matches, including best-afield honours in 2000, 2003 and 2004.

But, rather than sit in the stands and watch the new breed of Bombers today, after attempting to rev the players up, he spent the rest of the day with his family.

"It was his daughter's birthday and he actually came and spoke and then went back for her birthday, he's normally playing on Anzac Day so he wanted to spend the day with his daughter," Knights said.

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