Bombers given a worrying future glimpse - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers given a worrying future glimpse

By Roger Vaughan 27/08/2007 05:39:39 AM Comments (0)

Essendon packed out the MCG to pay rich tribute to Kevin Sheedy and James Hird, two towering figures in the AFL club's history.

They came away smarting from a grim reminder that the future looks, at best, concerning.

Bottom side Richmond crashed the Bombers' party for Sheedy and Hird with a convincing 27-point win, 17.17 (119) to 13.14 (92).

The result also put Essendon out of their tenuous finals contention, with the Subiaco match against West Coast next Saturday now meaningful only for the Eagles as they try to secure second spot.

Sheedy and Hird walked laps of honour in opposite directions after the match, the last time Sheedy will coach the Bombers in Melbourne and also the last home game for Hird.

They finally met in a forward pocket and embraced warmly.

Essendon controversially decided not to extend Sheedy's contract beyond his legendary 27-year tenure and Hird will retire next Saturday, closing his brilliant playing career on 253 games.

A pro-Bombers crowd of 88,468 gave them thunderous applause before and after the match.

But all the plaudits for the match itself belonged to the Tigers, who closed out a hard-working performance with seven goals to four in the final term.

When asked for his reaction, Sheedy's immediate thought was that he was "disappointed."

"Obviously the crowd was fantastic and exciting for both of us, but we don't deserved to be in the eight, it's as simple as that," he said.

"The only good thing about tonight is the Bombers get an earlier draft pick - we didn't intend that."

Adding to Essendon's woes, veteran Scott Camporeale suffered a knee injury in the second term that could end his career if it means a reconstruction.

Even more concerning was a ghastly incident seconds before three-quarter time, when Jay Schulz landed on young Bomber Jay Nash after a marking contest.

Schulz smashed into the top of his back as the Essendon player lay on the ground and Nash was taken to hospital, complaining of some tingling in his arms.

While Essendon farewelled their playing legend in Hird, Richmond legend Matthew Richardson was best afield with a commanding performance at centre half-forward.

Hird was grateful for the occasion, but like Sheedy hated the result.

"The result matters massively - the bit about Sheeds and I for that lap of honour and the occasion, that's great and it makes you feel nice inside," Hird said.

"But we play and Sheeds coached to win four points.

"It really matters and it hurts ... never ever, can I go into a game thinking I can still win a premiership.

"That's the saddest part about tonight."

Sheedy agreed that whoever takes over from as Bombers coach faces a big job.

"I was left with some very good players, but I had to go and get 10 or 11 myself," he said.

"No matter what, the new coach is going to have to get another half a team, I'd say."

Sheedy also confirmed that Camporeale and Nash had suffered serious injuries.

"He (Nash) is not really right just yet, he's got some tingling in his hands, he needs to be looked after," he said.

"We may have lost Camporeale, never to play again."

Camporeale turned 32 earlier this month and was already coming out of contract at the end of this season.

There was speculation about whether he would continue and a reconstruction would put him out of action for up to 12 months, making a comeback unlikely.

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