The Roar
The Roar


Gutless Essendon board fail to back Hird

18th August, 2015
2806 Reads

Well, they got him. After three years of trying the AFL finally got their man.

James Hird is gone, forced to stand down by his own club after enduring three horrendous years of the most negative scrutiny that a person in the sporting world could ever be placed under.

Essendon’s poor performances, particularly over the second half of this season, gave the club the perfect excuse it needed to be rid of its former Golden Boy, and the AFL must be rubbing its hands together with glee.

No longer will they suffer the embarrassment of having one of their clubs coached by someone who had become the face of the whole supplements saga – a saga that is still being investigated and far from concluded.

The AFL may spout on about the wellbeing of the players being their number one priority, but make no mistake, they have proved time and again that it is all about self-promotion and protecting their precious brand.

Well, they have one less black sheep to worry about now. Hird will haunt them no more.

The headlines may say that he has quit, but the reality is that he had no choice. In the end he made it easy for an Essendon administration that lacks guts and direction.

Already Bomber boss Paul Little is saying that it wasn’t his decision to give Hird the controversial three-year contract that he is now terminating, instead blaming it on his board. There’s some great leadership right there.


Hird’s departure from Essendon has nothing to do with the team’s performance. If it was, then fair enough. But no, this departure is all to do with adverse publicity.

But here’s the thing. Even with Hird gone, nothing changes. The WADA investigation will go on, the speculation over the whole saga will continue, and the negative articles will continue to be written.

The only event that will end the whole sorry ordeal is when WADA comes out and delivers their verdict, whichever way it goes. Only then will that much-needed breath of fresh air wash over the football club. Only then will the players themselves be able to move on.

All that Hird’s departure does is add another layer of sadness and uncertainty to their lives.

If the Essendon board had any balls at all they would have allowed Hird to coach out the last year of his contract, if only to see what he was capable of without the constant scrutiny of the WADA investigation hanging over the players’ heads.

If by the end of 2016 he was still unable to lift the players or develop an effective game plan, then by all means, don’t reappoint him. But surely he needed to be given that chance, because, if the honest truth is told, we don’t really know if James Hird is a good coach or not. After a promising beginning, much of what followed was clouded by the controversy of the supplements scandal.

To judge him as a coach on this season alone is neither enlightening nor fair. His on-field personnel consisted of older players mentally fatigued by three years of constant speculation about their futures, and a dozen inexperienced youngsters with very little game time in their legs. Throw in a few key injuries at various stages and you have a situation that any coach would struggle with.


At a time where the club actually needs consolidation, Hird’s departure only brings more upheaval. The arrival of a new coaching regime and all that comes with it is just another distraction that will be written and speculated about as the new season approaches.

A quieter entry to 2016 may have been more desirable.