In this six-part series, The Inner Sanctum in conjunction with the GIANTS, chat with the club’s inaugural players. The men share everything from their first experience at the GIANTS, all the way through to what they hope is in store for the club’s future.
Adam Kennedy reflected on the initial years at the GIANTS with a laugh as he reminisced on how simple things seemed to be for the 18-year-olds as they arrived at the club for the first time.
Kennedy was one of those younger players who didn’t know that the baseball diamond and portables weren’t exactly the AFL norm.
“We didn’t know it, but it was very unique, now looking back on it. I understand why a few of the older guys who had been at other clubs found it challenging because not only did they have all the 18-years-olds to guide, but the set-up we had [was not like what they were used to having],” Kennedy told The Inner Sanctum.
“The actual setup of the gym and the ground… we were making up a lot of things in terms of training to get through the pre-season.
“I just thought it was normal even the coaches and a lot of people high up said one day we would have our own rooms… but I knew nothing better. This was our set-up and I thought it was pretty good.
“Looking back now though and comparing the facilities we have now to then, you can tell how far we’ve come along.”
Most of Kennedy’s memories from back when he started with the GIANTS includes those who he was able to work with, inaugural GIANTS coach Kevin Sheedy and his Assistant Mark Williams.
Sheedy and Williams knew the challenges they were to face with a new side, Kennedy said, but commends both for their approach in setting up the club and the lessons they were able to gain from both.
“Our coaches guided us so well and wanted to get us to an elite standard as soon as we possibly could. It wasn’t the start that we had hoped for, it was slow, but we worked through that,” he said.
“Williams was a great teacher. He had a passion for teaching and guiding young footballers. ‘Sheeds’ is one of the more unique people I’ve ever met. He’s got an aura about him, comes in the room and he has the attention, you never knew which way he was going.”
Ask any of the GIANTS players who worked under Sheedy, and they would share to you some of the interesting techniques he would use to coach. It's these though that made it enjoyable to work under him, Kennedy said.
"The second time I met Sheeds, it was day one of training, he got me in the group and just made a complete joke out of me because of the area I am from. He did it for fun, and we all had such a laugh out of it... that's the type of person he was, he could joke around with you, but when he was serious, he was serious.
"When you were doing a simple drill, if you turned your head on him, you copped a footy on the back of your head. It was his way of him teaching us to keep an eye out for anything."
It took the GIANTS only seven matches to secure their first AFL win, back in May 2012. The GIANTS recorded a 27-point win over the Gold Coast Suns. Kennedy said the celebrations that night was as if the side had just won a premiership.
“Our celebrations were probably a bit over the top, a lot of people would have looked at us and thought ‘what are these kids doing, do they think they just won the premiership?'
“At the same time though, we went through a really rough patch, getting smoked most games. It was a step in building this club and showing our hard work paid off.”
Among this year were some pretty heavy losses, but Kennedy is proud to have stayed true to the club and fight through the tougher years to share the success the club has been able to experience more recently.
“I’ve stayed because the club is happy to keep me,” Kennedy laughs.
“But in all seriousness, I love that the club is about being a family and we have similar values to what I like to think I have in life.”
Ask Kennedy what value he resonates to the most and hopes to achieve every day, and he will say loyalty. The GIANTS defender shares that this is one of the reasons he remains in the orange and charcoal to this day.
“I want to re-pay the favour of them keeping me at the by playing good football… I already know I am going to be a one club player and that’s something I will always hold close to my heart,” he said.
“I think lately, loyalty is something that isn’t valued as much as it was 20 years ago, but it’s something I hold very high.”
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