By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
AFL legend Kevin Sheedy has backed a Cats push to rewrite the beginnings of football, lifting Geelong’s haul of premierships from nine to 16.
Geelong president Colin Carter’s submission to officially recognise 20 years of “neglected” Victorian Football Association (VFA) history will also change the number of various clubs’ premierships.
Sheedy, an ambassador for Greater Western Sydney Giants – which plays Geelong in two weeks – was at Kardinia Park for a promotional visit to encourage fans to journey to Spotless Stadium for the clash.
Representing the newest entrant to the competition, Sheedy told the Independent Carter’s idea merited “serious consideration”.
“I know it changes the number of premierships won by clubs and some might get a bit uptight about that but that’s okay,” Sheedy said.
“We have to remember it’s just a game.”
Sheedy said he was sure the AFL would do its research with the assistance of well-credentialed football historians before making any decisions.
The Independent understands the AFL has commissioned a group of historians and researchers, including the AFL’s Col Hutchinson, to consider the submission.
The research into football’s early years will also consider crediting some of football’s early champions with games not currently on record.
The former greats include Geelong’s Charles Brownlow, after whom the AFL’s highest honour is named, and William ‘Ben’ Hall.
The most contentious part of the move is AFL clubs gaining premierships won in their VFA days.
Nine clubs established the VFA in 1877 as a centrally-organised competition awarding its annual premiership to the best-performed club.
The founding clubs included Carlton, Essendon, Geelong, North Melbourne, Melbourne and St Kilda. Fitzroy, Richmond, Footscray and Collingwood joined later.
Eight clubs broke away to form Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897, which became the beginning of offiical premiership records. The VFL’s foundation clubs were Geelong, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Melbourne, South Melbourne and St Kilda.
Geelong won seven of the 20 VFA premierships, so Carter’s submission would give the Cats a total 16 flags, lifting the club from equal seventh to outright fourth.
But the Independent understands the premierships will be categorised according to the competition in which they were won, to add historical perspective to the achievements. The change would recognise the formation of the game’s written code well-before any other form of international football.
If accepted, the changes would be announced in time for the 2015 AFL Hall of Fame.