Almanac Footy History: The Trobers (of 1976) take a long hard look at themselves

It’s mid-season 1976 and young coach (senior by La Trobe Uni FC standards) Tony Sheehan writes to his charges, setting them a challenge.

[Champion rover Gary Forbes kept this letter and had it on his wall for years.]


La Trobe Blacks 1976

It is a good time for this club to have a look at itself in the light of past performance and what it expects to achieve in the remaining part of the season.

There are approximately 25 players available whom I consider are up to the standard required to see that we finish on top of the ladder. To date, I have seen nothing from other teams to suggest that we are unable to take off the flag.

For my part I intend to be doubly hard from here on in – players will be pushed to the limit of training sessions and it is hoped will approach games confident in their ability to outlast individual opponents and teams.

Specifically this will require full attendance at training three nights a week for the next three weeks. Certainly this will be difficult and require some sacrifices to be made. It is however University vacation so there should be no conflict of time and players must realize that anything less than complete dedication will result in a lost opportunity to win our first amateur premiership.

Provided that it is carried out with the co-operation and enthusiasm of all concerned, circle work is the best and most demanding activity for acquiring fitness for football. Properly carried out this type if training is as tough as actual match play. It requires intensity of purpose, the handling of the ball at top speed, running, sprinting and thinking quickly.

Training should be intense and desperate, and being so, mistakes will be made, so all players on the track must be alert to assist each other – back one another up. Always. Not nearly enough attention is paid to recovery and backing-up in training or in matches.

Along with fitness and right approach to a game must go confidence. Confidence is your own/team’s fitness, confidence in your own/team’s right approach, confidence in the fact that you will never give up the struggle, even when everything is going against you, confidence that if you keep doing the right things the tide will eventually turn your way.

I say we are good enough to win a premiership. We have talent and team balance required – but it takes more than that. It takes a lot of self confidence, dedication, desire and not forgetting hell of a lot of the old fashioned G & D.

If I asked you on Grand Final night if it was all worth it. I know what your answer would be. Think about it! Will you play your part?


Tony Sheehan


Join Tony Sheehan and all the other Trobers at the Aug 4 lunch at the North Fitzroy Arms to launch and celebrate No Ordinary Football Club. This will be a cracker. DETAILS HERE.

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