Almanac Footy History: The Trobers cop both barrels (another call for commitment from Tony Sheehan)


With the La Trobe University Football Club fiftieth anniversary celebrations coming up on Aug 4 and Aug 11 we delve into their archives to find another 1976 letter from coach Tony Sheehan.



Dear Teammate,


For some time I have been critical of the mental approach of many players towards both training and playing football.


This criticism is based upon what I regard as a fundamental immaturity in many people and is made manifest in such habits as: late (or non) arrival at training; unenthusiastic response to instructions; late arrival at games; failure to contact either myself or selector if one cannot make training.


More disturbing however is the way in which players assess their own and their friends’ performances on the field. Too often the criteria applied is whether one kicked a number of goals or took a couple of good marks: pervasive is the attitude that “playing alright is good enough”.


How many players in this team genuinely assess their performance in terms of did I fully exploit my own ability and the opportunities available to me? Did I contribute to a teammate’s game by shepherding, handballing or by encouraging talk? Did I attempt to implement the coach’s instructions by running the ball or tackle an opponent? Am I in fact a good footballer, or do I just think I am?


Until all of these questions can be answered with an emphatic ‘yes’ then this side in immature and a premiership an unlikely dream.


  1. Time of arrival – do you get there as early as possible or as late as you can? How hard do you try to get to training on time? Do you make any sacrifices to get to training on time?
  2. Desire to improve your present standard. Have you ever listed your weaknesses – ever asked anyone how to improve on them? Have you the ability to be self-critical; if so, how have you set your standards – do you know how high they should be?
  3. Willingness to learn – how open-minded are you? How much do you think there is to learn in football?
  4. Endeavour – are you willing to push yourself when tired?
  5. Intelligence – do you try to set little plays? Do you attempt to read the training pattern?
  6. Talking (a) instruction – do you tell your teammate where he is, where you are, what is the best for him to do? (b) barracking – urging him on, congratulating, paying out etc?
  7. Self-discipline – do you try to cheat on training instructions when the coach is not looking?
  8. Acceptance of discipline – how to do react to criticism?; does it make you go better or do you sulk?; do you think you are in the right every time (or never)?
  9. Initiative (a) in end to end exercises do you have to be told to even up the ends’ (b) when we are starting circle work do you go to the outer side or stay where you are and let someone else do that? (c) do you sense training has gone flat and endeavour by yourself to ginger it up?


These are only a few of the questions that you should be asking yourself in an attempt to honestly assess your contribution to a premiership effort. Unfortunately, few emerge from this sort of examination very well. If this side is to be a real premiership threat improvement in attitude must begin now. It must begin with you.


Tony Sheehan


Join in the celebrations at the launch of No Ordinary Football Club on Aug 4 and then at the anniversary dinner on Aug 11. More details HERE.


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