Essendon champion James Hird in Bunbury

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Essendon Football Club legend James Hird takes in the view at Vat 2 ahead of the restaurant’s Sportsmen’s Lunch.
Camera IconEssendon Football Club legend James Hird takes in the view at Vat 2 ahead of the restaurant’s Sportsmen’s Lunch. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

Essendon Football Club and AFL champion James Hird was in Bunbury last week for Vat 2’s annual Sportsmen’s Lunch.

In Hird’s second visit to Bunbury, the club great and former “Baby Bomber” talked about AFL and what life was now like for the retired player and coach.

Hird told the Bunbury Herald he was excited to speak at Friday’s luncheon.

“I’m here just to talk to local people, have a chat about footy and what’s been going on,” Hird said.

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While Hird is now focusing on family and life after AFL, he admitted he still had one eye on the game.

“Myself and Shane Crawford do a podcast, it goes all over the world which is good fun, that’s probably my only involvement with football,” he said.

“I’m focusing on family and work ... I still love watching it (footy) and keeping in touch with the Bombers.

“I’ve coached a lot in junior footy, for probably seven or eight years, my children are a bit older now so I’m letting someone else do that.”

He said while he had stepped away from coaching at a junior level, he still provided some tips with one of his three sons and his only daughter playing AFL.

“You’ve got to let them find their own way but we enjoy having a kick, I love watching my kids play sport,” he said.

Hird said Bunbury had a good history with the Bombers, providing talent in the likes of Paul Barnard, Leon Baker, Ben Howlett and Kyle Reimers.

“It’s been a very good breeding ground for the Essendon Football Club,” Hird said.

A premiership player alongside Barnard, Hird said he shared a lot of special memories with the hard-hitting goal kicker.

“We spent a lot of time together and the 2000 premiership was fantastic,” he said.

“He kicked four goals in the grand final in 2000 so he was a very good player.”

As for any predictions on his former club’s future, Hird said he thought 2019 was going to be a good year and the Bombers were overdue for some success.

“The back half (of last season) was good, they sort of struggled early but the trade period they should get a couple good players now,” he said.

“No one gives you anything, you’ve got to be able to do it all so I think they’ll have a wonderful year in 2019.

“They’ve got a really good list of players, the coach has been there long enough to have his game plan in place, I think the season is really set up for them.”

He said being part of the 1993 premiership side, which was referred to as the Baby Bombers because of the young team, was a career highlight.

“It was great, we had a lot of fun and it was a different era back in the early 90s where you could probably enjoy your football a lot more,” he said.

“There was a lot less pressure and there wasn’t social media intrusion on your life like there is now, so it was great.

“We were 18 and 19 year old kids just loving life, playing AFL football and winning grand finals, it was pretty special actually.”

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