Bombers don’t deserve to be playing finals

Dan Lonergan Columnist

By Dan Lonergan, Dan Lonergan is a Roar Expert

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    Even if Essendon isn’t stripped of premiership points by the AFL Commission and get the chance to play in September, they will only be making up the numbers if the past month’s performances are anything to go by.

    One of the league’s penalties should be, if the club is found guilty of the charge that has been laid against it and four officials, which is bringing the game into disrepute, banning them from the finals, because it would put them out of their misery.

    As we all thought, the drugs saga has caught up with Essendon on the field and probably later than predicted.

    When Brisbane surprised them by defeating them at Docklands in Round 8, most in the footy world thought the fall was on then, but they got to Round 17 and the Hawthorn clash in second spot.

    However, they have been belted since by the Hawks, Collingwood, West Coast and North Melbourne.

    The Hawthorn match came off the back of allegations that AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou had tipped off then Essendon Chairman David Evans in a phone call that ASADA was looking into a supplement program provided by the club.

    History tells us, the biggest off field story broke the next day and of course it’s still going, with no end in sight yet.

    The Bombers started okay against the Hawks and to be fair that match was possibly an example of Hawthorn being far too good, but the Magpies disaster followed by the woeful displays against the Eagles and North showed the controversy has burnt the players out.

    There was a chance that maybe they could rally when they took on the Roos after the AFL announced that at the moment they wouldn’t be sanctioning any players, but they appeared to be flatter than the Eagles defeat… and that’s saying something.

    They are a shadow of the team that began the season in a blaze of glory. The skill level is currently almost not of AFL standard as error after error resulted in a North goal and it would be fair to say, the Kangaroos, outside the sublime Daniel Wells, didn’t play all that well either.

    The fans also seemed to have had enough and know that if they play an elimination final, they won’t be going any further as the crowd numbers at Docklands against North were well down.

    Essendon, even though they have stated publicly that they would fight the loss of premiership points for this season, you would hope privately have a different view and if found guilty and that’s one of the penalties handed out, they must accept it as they have to realise unless there’s a miracle, they won’t have a positive impact on the finals in 2013.

    It would be disastrous for Essendon and the league as a whole if they are told they can play in the competition next year but their wins won’t count.

    It would be a bold move by the AFL to take that stance as it means one game every week would mean nothing and that compromises the multi-million dollar broadcasting deal.

    On current form, Essendon would probably only defeat Melbourne and the GWS, which indicates with all due respects to those teams, how poor they are now and at the end of the day the club and the footy department only have themselves to blame for this predicament, even if all parties who have been charged by the league are still innocent until proven guilty.

    The league is set to hand down that outcome next week, and not before time. We have a finals series to play and watch.

    It would be nice to concentrate solely on the footy for once this season.

    Dan Lonergan
    Dan Lonergan

    Dan Lonergan is one Australia's most respected and versatile commentators. In more than 16 years on ABC Grandstand he has covered AFL footy (including four Grand Finals), cricket, tennis, and three Olympic Games, including London 2012 where he commentated 16 sports.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • August 20th 2013 @ 3:17am
      Karl said | August 20th 2013 @ 3:17am | ! Report

      Putting the Asada/afl charges aside. (Which should see Essendon miss the finals, in my opinion)

      If this doesn’t happen you cannot claim they don’t belong to be there. Yes they are playing AWFUL football at the moment. But they have managed 13 wins, and correct me if I’m wrong but a win in any Rd is worth the same amount. Not just your form in the last 6 weeks of football.

      YES, they might get flogged by over 10 goals like they have in their last 2 finals campaigns, but that hasn’t taken away from having proven to be in the top 8 sides over the year as a WHOLE.

    • August 20th 2013 @ 3:38am
      Kylie Brown said | August 20th 2013 @ 3:38am | ! Report

      You’re joking right? So you know for a fact that Essendon won’t progress past the first elimination final? I suppose if they lose their points then the team that takes the eighth position will have an impact on finals? I seriously doubt that! How about those teams out of the eight actually EARN a spot in the finals. I wouldn’t want to be a supporter of the loser team that plays in finals by default. How embarrassing! Of course the vultures will be circling because they’re too inadequate to have made it on their own merits. Just watch out in the next year or two, look how well Essendon have been for the majority of the season even with this saga hanging over the heads not to mention the disgusting media frenzy. If anyone should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute it should be the AFL and the gutter journos that have been relentless in their thirst for James Hird’s blood and his head on a platter!

      • August 20th 2013 @ 10:42am
        JohnD said | August 20th 2013 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Kylie
        From the supporter of a loser team that’s not going to play finals this year (lions), you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and beggars can’t be choosers (two cliche’s in one sentence. awesome).

        • August 23rd 2013 @ 8:04am
          Bob Murphy said | August 23rd 2013 @ 8:04am | ! Report

          At least the Lions aren’t cheats!!

    • August 20th 2013 @ 4:51am
      Jake said | August 20th 2013 @ 4:51am | ! Report

      I agree Karl. Current form has nothing to do with deserving to play finals. They have won more games than all the teams below them. The only teams that don’t deserve to play finals are the ones that weren’t good enough over a whole season to make the.

    • Roar Guru

      August 20th 2013 @ 8:09am
      TomC said | August 20th 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      Worth bearing in mind that it’s only the headline that says Essendon don’t ‘deserve’ to play finals. The article itself just says they won’t make an impact once they’re there.

      Big game against Carlton this week.

      • August 20th 2013 @ 8:20am
        Franko said | August 20th 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Huge game, looking forward to it.

        Maybe the ASADA-AFL investigation has taken its toll. But maybe they just increased the training load in the last month to prep for finals, all a bit of a guessing game.

    • August 20th 2013 @ 9:14am
      Australian Rules said | August 20th 2013 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Essendon look shot. The players look slow and tired and clearly this whole emotional fiasco has caught up with them.

      And too, perhaps, the fans. 34,000 for a Round 21 home game against North is a terrible crowd.

      But rather than admit the negligence and failures to their players, the EFC seem set to challenge and deny everything…and thus possibly dragging the club (and their fans) through this morass into next year. No-one will win from this.

      • August 20th 2013 @ 11:07am
        mark said | August 20th 2013 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        i dont think Little said they are denying everything, he said they made mistakes, it is just the scale that is the sticking point, and of course the idea that they were complicit in co-ercing and letting players take banned substances, which IMO, they were not.

        They all seem pretty adamant that they were not involved, my guess is that will be found guilty of governance issues, and innocent of all the charges the media has been proclaiming them guilty of.

        Hopefully the media cops its wack for this saga.

        • August 20th 2013 @ 11:40am
          Australian Rules said | August 20th 2013 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          If Charge 1 is being reported correctly, that is, either a) WADA-banned substances were injected; or b) the EFC does not know whether WADA-banned substances were injected…then the Football Department is guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

          It’s far too easy to blame Dank and say it was all his fault. That’s not good enough.

          Hird brought Dank in, Hird was urging this program and, as Head Coach, all decisions and actions within the Footy Department ultiamtely end with Hird. It’s simply not enough for him to say “but I wanted it all WADA-compliant”. Those words were not backed up with actions.

          Sending them off-site to be jabbed, without the club doctor, is akin to turning a blind eye.

          • August 20th 2013 @ 11:02pm
            Bobbo7 said | August 20th 2013 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

            Good comment. The whole thing is a circus and if I was an Essendon player I would be furious with what the coaching staff have allowed to happen.

            Likewise if I was a supporter of the club I would be furious and asking for my membership money back. Too many fans are blaming everyone but those in charge at the club.

            • August 23rd 2013 @ 8:21am
              Tom said | August 23rd 2013 @ 8:21am | ! Report

              As an Essendon Supporter I think my dismay/rage cebtres on the club not winning at the moment. Had a gutful of end of seadon fadeouts.

              In terms of asada. I’ll take Hird and Littles word for it. I don’t believe they’d be lying to their supporter base. They say we didnt cheat with drugs then I’ll believe them unless proven guilty by asada.

              The AFL is veing very unreasonable if the mooted penalties are
              True. No way do honest intentions and not being able to say 100% what dank administered the players = no premiership points millions in fines draft picks gone for 2 years and hird banished from the game.

              Sounds like essendons one crime was not having a witness to danks work 100% of the time. I wonder if all other clubs had witnesses for every supplement given by staff to players?

              The whole affair if handled right could actually bting repute to afl rather than the otherway around. If worlds best practice adoption is an outcome.

          • August 20th 2013 @ 11:03pm
            Bobbo7 said | August 20th 2013 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

            Good comment. The whole thing is a circus and if I was an Essendon player I would be furious with what the coaching staff have allowed to happen.

            Too many fans are blaming everyone but those in charge at the club.

    • August 20th 2013 @ 10:53am
      Aransan said | August 20th 2013 @ 10:53am | ! Report

      It seems that Demetriou and the AFL are insistent on Hird being charged as part of any settlement on this issue. There is no way Essendon will accept that or the charges against the other three individuals. The charge against Dr. Reid particularly appears to be ridiculous and malicious. In my opinion the lack of proper process means that no action by the AFL against Essendon is likely to succeed in Court, but a negotiated outcome would be best for all parties.
      I believe a fair outcome would be:
      Essendon to be stripped of all points for 2013.
      A $2,000,000 fine.
      The loss of draft pick number 1 which would follow from coming last.
      No action to be taken against any current Essendon player or official.

      • August 20th 2013 @ 11:01am
        mark said | August 20th 2013 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        Hopefully the truth comes out, the AFL have backed themselves into a corner, i think, the AFL read far more into the situation than what actually occurred, they seem intent on bringing down Hird.

      • August 20th 2013 @ 3:31pm
        Samual Johnson said | August 20th 2013 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

        The old slap on the wrist with the wet lettuce.

        Hmm, do you honestly think the AFL would let them get off this lightly after everything that has happened?

        • August 20th 2013 @ 4:07pm
          Phil Maguire said | August 20th 2013 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

          What’s happened, Sam? Perhaps you’d like to let the rest of us know?

        • August 20th 2013 @ 4:28pm
          Aransan said | August 20th 2013 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

          The alternative will be that they will get off completely by going to court. A precedent then might be set whereby one of the stronger clubs would challenge the salary cap under restraint of trade. As this would likely succeed that would then lead to the demise of the weaker Melbourne clubs. It is surprising how much jealousy there is coming from other clubs. You don’t make yourself stronger by tearing others down.

          • August 20th 2013 @ 4:47pm
            Australian Rules said | August 20th 2013 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

            “It is surprising how much jealousy there is coming from other clubs.”

            I don’t any other club is “jealous” of Essendon right now. But most, I think, would expact a little humility and accountability.

            • August 20th 2013 @ 5:00pm
              Aransan said | August 20th 2013 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

              I am sure that Essendon and its supporters have suffered a great deal through the speculation and bulldust that has been peddled by the media through this season and also the baiting from some other clubs supporters. I don’t think Essendon feels that they need to show any further humility and they have taken measures to ensure they will be accountable in the future.

      • August 20th 2013 @ 4:54pm
        Mic said | August 20th 2013 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

        @ Aransan. You don’t seriously believe that the AFL would strip your points for 2013, sending you to the bottom of the ladder, and then give you the number 1 draft pick on a platter?? If so, you are seriously deluded. EFC will be lucky to see a decent draft pick inside the next three years.

        • August 20th 2013 @ 5:08pm
          Aransan said | August 20th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

          If Essendon were threatened with such a loss of draft picks they would certainly go to court. Do you think Demetriou and the AFL would be silly enough to try and impose a penalty that would fail in court? A negotiated outcome is in everyone’s interests, so start thinking about what would be accepted reluctantly by both sides.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 1:14pm
        Barney said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        The problem with that is.

        How can you fine the club if they do not take action against any official or player? if not action whose responsibility is it? just those essendon have sacked or whoever have resigned?

        Is $2 Million dollars a suitable fine if no player is guilty of cheating with drugs?

        Same with stripping points?

        All those penalties I think would have to stem from the club actually being found in the wrong. Otherwise which Club in the future, in their right mind would ever cooperate with ASADA?

        Its not the look ASADA or the AFL want to cultivate. Wack Essendon on Drug Charges if they exist otherwise clear them. Its pretty simple.

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