Kevin Sheedy - R.F.C. (251 Senior Games) - R.C.C. (5 Senior Games)
While working on the 2007-08 Richmond Cricket Club scrap book, a game that stirred my historical interest was a minor Twenty/20 fixture where we included the young Richmond Football Club star Brett Deledio.
Our records show that over their 100 year VFL/AFL history the Richmond Football Club and the Richmond Cricket Club have produced dozens of dual senior Footballers and Cricketers.
The Richmond Footballers to play cricket for us include men of great statue in the game. Coaches, Captains, Best Fairest winners, Leading Goal Kickers and many Victoria players have all played dual roles, but one sportsman stands out as a super star both on and off the football field, and he is the man in my story.
Kevin Sheedy's efforts to become a top class cricketer at Richmond were not helped by the fact that he was one of the best footballers playing in the V.F.L.during the 1970's, but the countless hours required for football curtailed his opportunities during the cricket season.
Sheedy was an extremely talented leg spin bowler, and it was in the 1976-77 season that he decided to try himself at Punt Road wearing the creams. He had just completed an excellent 1976 football season for the Tigers, playing all 22 games, gaining 18 votes in the Brownlow Medal and winning Richmond's Best & Fairest trophy.
After his R.C.C debut in the Fourth XI he proceeded through to the 2nds. via the 3rds. His 18 wickets at 19.11 in the seconds, made the selectors take notice.
The clubs 1st XI incumbent spin bowler in 1976-77 was the Victorian player Jim Higgs. Jim took 5 for 90 to lead the Richmond's attack that helped win Richmond's second District 1st XI premiership, and was spoken about as an Australian Test bowler. Jim's enforced absence from the Richmond team, would require a back up spinner, and it was thought Sheedy could be that man.
Kevin's early games of the 1977-78 season were in the second eleven and once again he performed with distinction, so it was no surprise to see him called up to the 1st XI to make his debut in round 4 when Higgs was away with the state side.
In that debut fixture against Prahran at Toorak Park, a ground where Kevin had represented the V.F.A. side Prahran many times, he bowled six overs and took the wickets of Victorian player Brad Green and the experienced Owen Mottau at a cost of 16 runs.
It was during the January of 1978 that things became both exciting but at the same time messy. Higgs was selected to tour the West Indies with the Australian team (Jim made his Test debut on that Caribbean trip). Sheedy was appointed captain of the Richmond Football Club senior team, but the powers at the football club were not happy, they considered he was spending to much time pursuing a cricketing dream, and history shows that football clubs rarely compromise.
In Richmond's outright win at Punt Road against Northcote, Sheedy had match figures of 5 for 24 and the club along with Sheedy were looking with great anticipation to the finals that were due to commence in two weeks time.
Kevin was amazed and very disappointed when the Richmond Football Club refused him permission to play in the District Cricket finals. It was felt that as Sheedy was the football club's new captain he was required to lead the team in the summer practice matches. His plea to play finals cricket was rejected.
Richmond won the semi-final and it is well documented that missing that grand final against Carlton was one of Kevin Sheedy's biggest regrets during his illustrious sporting endeavours. Richmond went into that game with an all pace attack and were defeated.
Sheedy had played his one and only season of first XI cricket. His contribution in Higgs' absence was 5 games for 13 wickets at 16.23, not bad for his first try at the top level.
I spoke with Kevin in the club museum several years ago where he told me he was proud to have worn the Richmond Cricket Club colours at senior level and we arranged for him to accept a photograph of the team of that period.
Kevin said "This photograph will show my kids that I did play cricket with Test stars Yallop and Higgs". I got the impression his children thought he was having a loan of them. Who knows what might have been?
By Ron Reiffel
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