Sheedy's tearful reunion
KEVIN Sheedy, the God of Aussie Rules footy, walks up to your lunch table at the Craignish pub and says: “Good Day, Donny, I’m your son-in-law. Sorry it’s taken about 31 years to tell you, mate.
“Now meet your long lost daughters, one of them’s my beloved wife, Geraldine.”
“We love you, Dad. Sorry it’s been so long to tell you,” weep 50-something Geraldine and Leonie.
The women cling to the dad they haven’t seen since they were toddlers in Melbourne. He’s crying, so are they. Even big Kev is moist-eyed.
The Craignish Hotel and Country Club’s most loyal patron, Don Porter was yesterday still in shock at the news he had fathered the future wife of AFL legend Sheedy.
Kevin Sheedy AM, 62, was the coach of AFL club Essendon for 26 years, and a player for Richmond for 12 years. He holds the AFL record for the most games combined as a player and coach. He is currently the senior coach of the soon to be named Greater West Sydney Football Club in the Australian Football League – but none of that is as important right now as introducing his wife and her younger sister to their dad.
Within minutes of Sheedy arriving at the pub, mobile phones went into action and 20 minutes later you couldn’t have slid a bike into the pub’s car park.
“I’m famous!” grinned Donny Porter yesterday, still shaking his head in disbelief. “This has blown my mind.”
“Shirley Cook, my first wife, and yes, I still love her, bore me two beautiful daughters in Melbourne, Geraldine and Leonie and hey, 55 years–plus later I’ve just met my girls and one of them is married to Kevin Sheedy. Hell, and I’ve been backing North Melbourne.”
Donny, 80, among regulars at the Craignish Hotel and Country Club – “every afternoon from 3.30pm and then Wilma here gives me dinner” – has just met his two daughters, Geraldine and Leonie, after he last saw his “precious babies” half a century ago.
“God, they were beautiful then and they still are.
“A couple of weeks back someone rung me to say I needed to be at the Craignish pub to meet some family.
“I went down in my old car like I always do,” said the former apprentice jockey and Snowy River Scheme worker, “and there was Kev Sheedy, my daughter Geraldine who’d married him and I didn’t know this, and my younger daughter Leonie and some beautiful grandkids I didn’t know I had.
“I last kissed my babies goodbye more than half a century ago in Melbourne when Shirley had met someone else.
“It was a bit of a shock to see Geraldine had married Kev.
“He’s a great bloke. I like him now we’ve met.”
Donny isn’t the easiest man on the Fraser Coast to find. He rents a pad with no letterbox and only recently got a mobile phone – which he doesn’t know the number of.
“I’ve worked hard all my life, even rode Pearler, a hurdle winner at Rosehill when I was 16 and my trainer, Jack Kelso, was the son of Bill Kelso who Jimmy Pike rode for.
“I married again, to Caroline, and we had two daughters and a son but I never forgot Geraldine and Leonie. The girls took on the surname of Shirley’s new husband, Currie.”
Donny says the Sheedys promised to be in contact with him and they’ve left behind some photos, which he proudly displays in his bedroom.
“It’s funny really, I only played AFL once or twice when I was a kid. I was forward pocket and only once got the ball but I missed the kick. But I’ll never tell Kev that.”
In Sheedy’s last home game as coach against Richmond in Round 21 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a near sell-out crowd of 88,468 people turned out to farewell the legend and James Hird, who was retiring as a player. Although Essendon were defeated by a few goals, Sheedy received a standing ovation as he left the field for the last time.