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Sheedy v Malthouse: a record-breaking rivalry

Michael Malthouse, coach of Carlton and Kevin Sheedy coach of the Giants chat before the start of play during the 2013 NAB Cup round 01 match between the Carlton Blues and the GWS Giants at Blacktown International Sportspark, Sydney. (Photo: Craig Golding/AFL Media)
The rivalry between Mick Malthouse and Kevin Sheedy as senior coaches has lasted almost three decades
THE CLASH between Carlton and Greater Western Sydney on Saturday mightn't qualify as a blockbuster but it will still be a momentous, history-making occasion.

Unforeseen events aside, it will mark the final duel between Kevin Sheedy and Mick Malthouse.

In the process, these coaching oracles will also break a longstanding record.

When the final siren sounds, Sheedy and Malthouse will have coached against each other more than any other duo in AFL/VFL history. (See tables below.)

They will pass the previous mark of 46, set by the pair's former coach at Richdmond, Tom Hafey, and Ron Barassi in 1985.

And they'll do it at a venue where they've never previously met. The sixth stage for Sheedy/Malthouse showdowns will be Etihad Stadium. It's a far cry from the mudheaps they negotiated at Windy Hill and Western (now Whitten) Oval back in the '80s when Sheedy's Bombers won games with scorelines like 3.10 (28) and 4.10 (34).

As much as the Carlton-GWS game is a contest between a finals hopeful and the winless bottom team, it's also a duel between the second (Malthouse) and third (Sheedy) most experienced coaches in league history, behind only Collingwood legend Jock McHale.

Sheedy isn't expected to win - or even come close - but he will still retain a healthy advantage over Malthouse in their head-to-head clashes. He leads 27-19.

Sheedy, who will hand over the Giants' job to assistant Leon Cameron at the end of the season, will also finish with an excellent record (33 wins, 23 losses and two draws) against his old enemy Carlton.

Adding to the rare nature of this round 10 match, it will be the first time in almost six years that Sheedy and Malthouse's sides have opposed each other. Their most recent clash – in round 16, 2007 – resulted in a 29-point win to Malthouse's Magpies over Sheedy's Bombers.

This inimitable pair share a fierce coaching rivalry that goes back 29 years (another record), encompassing six clubs and five venues.

Mick Malthouse and Kevin Sheedy converse before a NAB Cup game in 2013. Picture: AFL Media

Their links go back further than that, too.

They became teammates in 1976 when St Kilda traded Malthouse to Richmond mid-season, and played 44 games together, many of them in the Tigers' back six.

Both played roles in the Tigers' most recent premiership in 1980 –Sheedy was a skills coach at the club and Malthouse was the virtual playing coach of the backline.

As coaches, the two Tigers of old share many obvious differences, but also some amazing parallels. (See their career stats below.)

Both have achieved enormous success, but via contrasting styles.

The perception is that although both have been stern disciplinarians, Sheedy has been more instinctive, a gambler and a trendsetter, whereas the more structured Malthouse has laid down rigid, percentage-playing rules that have stood the test of time.

Their public personas are also at odds - Sheedy the extrovert, Malthouse a more guarded figure.

Sheedy has long been seen as a pioneer for Aboriginal talent, a shameless promoter of the national code, and a willing performer for the cameras.

Meanwhile, Malthouse has always appeared to have a more insular focus, that of developing an us-versus-them culture at his clubs. The Carlton coach, who Sheedy calls 'Grumpy', also gives the impression he'd prefer to do his job without its 'footy showbiz' element.

Sheedy has added his own touch of Hollywood to their clashes, the most famous being his triumphant jacket-waving gesture after his 'Baby Bombers' stole a two-point win at the MCG in 1993. He also tied down the windsock at Windy Hill before a 1991 game against the Eagles.

Between them, Sheedy and Malthouse have coached in 15 grand finals, but never against each other. The closest they came was in their 13th clash, the 1990 preliminary final, when Sheedy's Bombers belted Malthouse's Eagles by 63 points.

They have contested four finals – each of them between Essendon and West Coast from 1990-96 – with Sheedy victorious on each occasion, by an average of 48 points.

46 - Kevin Sheedy (27 wins) v Mick Malthouse (19 wins) – 1984-2013
46 - Tom Hafey (25) v Ron Barassi (20), 1 draw – 1966-85
43 - Jock McHale (21) v Frank 'Checker' Hughes (21), 1 draw – 1927-48
41 - Kevin Sheedy (26) v David Parkin (14), 1 draw – 1981-2000
39 - Jock McHale (21) v Dan Minogue (18) – 1920-42
36 - Leigh Matthews (20) v Mick Malthouse (15), 1 draw – 1986-2008
34 - Tom Hafey (19) v Allan Jeans (15) – 1966-87

Overall: Kevin Sheedy 27 wins, Mick Malthouse 19 wins.
Finals: Sheedy 4, Malthouse 0.
Longest winning streak: Sheedy 5 (1999-2001), Malthouse 4 (1991-93)
Average winning margin: Sheedy 30.1pts, Malthouse  27.7pts.
Biggest winning margin: Sheedy 77pts (Ess v WC, 1996 first semi-final, MCG), Malthouse 75pts (WC v Ess, rd 15, 1992, MCG)
Crowd aggregate: 2,157,757.
Average crowd: 46,908.
Venues: 5 – Windy Hill, Western (Whitten) Oval, Waverley, Subiaco (Patersons Stadium), MCG.
Their previous 17 clashes (from 1999-2007) were staged at the MCG. This will be their first at Etihad Stadium.


2 (Ess, GWS)
4 (Foots, WCE, Coll, Carl)
Completed seasons
Winning %
43 (23 wins, 20 losses)
50 (26 wins, 22 losses, two draws)
Grand Finals
7 (four wins, three losses)
8 (three wins, four losses, one draw)
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs