Essendon coaching great Kevin Sheedy says the Bombers have “as good a chance as anybody” of lifting the AFL premiership ahead of their elimination final with Sydney.
Sheedy, who took the club to four flags over his Robert Menzies-esque reign at Essendon, says five decades of experience in the sport has him uniquely poised to judge.
He compared the class of 2017 to his “Baby Bombers” that came from the clouds to lift the 1993 premiership.
“I can tell you what happens in this game, only having been in it 50 years,” he said on Friday.
“We rolled into ’93 and no one thought we could win the premiership at the start of the year, at the middle of the year, at the end of the year.
“We lost our first final by a kick and from then on we went on. We grow. Young people grow in finals.
“That’s the exciting part for the Bomber fans out there and the players themselves.”
Sheedy said last year’s triumph by Western Bulldogs — from the same ladder position as Essendon finished in — provided the template.
“Did you think Hawthorn wouldn’t have won it last year? Well they didn’t,” he said.
“Did you think the Bulldogs? No. But they did.
“This is what the finals does present — a whole new ball park.
“Our speed and our ball winning ability is still there.
“The team itself has played very well against the best sides in the AFL and that’s one of its stronger points.
“When they’re up, the boys are confident. They’ve got good experienced leaders. In our middle core there’s young players coming through.
“That happened in ’93.”
Essendon face an arduous path to a premiership, beginning with an away trip to red-hot Sydney on Saturday week.
The Swans have won 14 of their past 16 games — the tightest of which was their one-point triumph over the Bombers in round 14.
The winner will play off against the qualifying final loser of Geelong v Richmond — where where Sheedy won three premierships as a player.
In fact, Sheedy has three clubs — adding in Greater Western Sydney where he was foundation coach — in the finals mix.
“I don’t think I can lose it. I think one of them are going to get it. I hope it’s the Bombers,” he said.
“Adelaide are in the box seat.
“The Giants have been up there, not playing great all year … the Tigers have shown an amazing amount of spirit.
“Whoever beats Adelaide is going to win it.”