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The Age

Lloyd tips a new era for Bombers

Author: LEN JOHNSON
Date: 28/09/2005
Words: 573
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 5
MATTHEW Lloyd was yesterday officially confirmed as captain of Essendon for 2006, succeeding James Hird to become the 10th skipper in Kevin Sheedy's 26 years as coach.

With various models of captaincy circulating in AFL football, Essendon sticks resolutely to the traditional, sole-occupancy form. "We've had terrific leaders," Sheedy said of his time at Windy Hill.

Lloyd himself believes that at 27, with 209 games experience, he is ready for the captaincy now in ways that he was not 12 months ago, when he was first widely mooted as Hird's successor. He said he no longer found the idea of leading the Dons daunting.

"I feel the time is perfect," Lloyd said. "I wasn't ready 12 months ago when (the prospect) probably overawed me."

Lloyd represents a return to tradition in other ways, "a local kid from Avondale Heights", as Sheedy put it. Although Hird, a third-generation Essendon player, could hardly be more steeped in club history, Lloyd is the first "local" captain since Mark Thompson.

In the past 12 months, Lloyd has had a chance to develop his own ideas on leadership, partly through observation and partly through growing more comfortable with the notion of leadership. Asked how he saw the role, he replied: "A lot of people see it as the two hours on the weekend but I see it as more than that, throughout the week."

Sydney's ability to tap into factors off the field as well as on it was reflected in its premiership win, according to Lloyd. Essendon could learn from the Swans' "camaraderie, their work ethic, how much they want to make space for each other and work for each other".

"We've got the talent there," Lloyd said. "It's the other side of things, making sure guys are more focused more of the time, getting more guys thinking the way James Hird does or Gary O'Donnell does or Sheeds. We've got a great future if our heads are in the right spot."

Lloyd praised Hird for standing aside from the captaincy for 2006, which he has said will be his last season as a player. He said Hird easily could have remained captain, as he was still at or near the top of the club's playing ranks.

Playing more than 200 games in 11 years, Lloyd said, had allowed him to deal with the highs and lows of football.

"There comes a time in your career when you need other challenges," he said. "This will be a great challenge to bringing out the best in my football as well."

"Gidday Matty, Gilly here just sending you a message to wish you all the best in your leadership role with the Bombers.

"I know you will be up for it just like you were when we played that cricket match last year and you took the arsiest catch I have ever seen.

"Come to think of it your reverse swing bowling might have come in handy in England.

"You have big shoes to fill. All the best and we will catch up soon." -- mobile phone text message to Matthew Lloyd from Adam Gilchrist.

CAPTAIN'S LOG

Kevin Sheedy's 10 captains at Essendon: 1981-2006

1981 Simon Madden

1982 Neale Daniher* Ron Andrews

1983-88 Terry Daniher

1989-91 Tim Watson

1992-95 Mark Thompson

1996-97 Gary O'Donnell

1998 James Hird

1999 James Hird** Michael Long

2000-2004 James Hird

2006- Matthew Lloyd

* Neale Daniher appointed captain but missed all of the season with a knee injury. Ron Andrews captained the side through 1982. ** James Hird suffered a season-ending foot injury in round two. Michael Long appointed replacement.

 
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