Long says Bombers have recovered soul - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Long says Bombers have recovered soul

Sam Lienert 20/05/2011 03:40:16 PM Comments (0)

Essendon great Michael Long says the AFL club has rediscovered its soul with favourite son James Hird as coach.

Long, who played alongside Hird in two Bombers premierships and won the 1993 Norm Smith Medal, said Essendon had not realised what they were losing when they sacked Kevin Sheedy in 2007, which coincided with Hird's retirement.

He said it was only now, with Hird's return, and that of other Bombers premiership players Mark Thompson, Sean Wellman and Dean Wallis as assistants, that Essendon had recaptured its spirit.

"You see where the club has come from the last six months and it takes obviously a person like Hirdy to do what he's done in the last six months and bring the calibre of people," Long told reporters on Friday.

"He's brought the soul of Essendon back to Essendon.

"That's something I attribute to James and obviously bringing the good people and our supporters back to the club."

While Long did not refer to Matthew Knights, the Bombers coach of the past three seasons, he said something went missing when Sheedy left.

"You never lose your soul, but obviously the gap (after) Kevin Sheedy, the era, I suppose over time he's no doubt given something to the club and being around for so long, it does leave a huge gap," he said.

"Your supporters partly go with that and I think we lost a bit of that.

"I didn't think we realised how much Kevin was part of the foundation of this club.

"Having a lot of the past players come back here, to me it really reflected the passion - that they wanted to come back and really lift this club to a level it should be at."

Hird, sitting alongside Long at a press conference to promote Saturday night's Dreamtime at the G clash with Richmond, was visibly touched by the indigenous star's comments.

"We've spent some special times together, there's a lot of respect both ways and it is great to hear that," Hird said.

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