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AFL should have intervened: Mark Thompson

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Bomber Thompson says lessons must be learnt

Essendon's senior assistant coach Mark 'Bomber' Thompson treaded lightly when asked if he'd step up as coach but was adamant the club's future looked bright.

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Mark Thompson has confirmed that James Hird was warned by the AFL about the club's supplements program in 2011 but maintains that the league could have intervened in a stronger fashion to prevent the saga unfolding as it has.

We obviously went down a path. The alarm bells should have gone off in somebody's eyes. 

The charges against Essendon and four individuals released by the AFL last week claimed that Hird, among other allegations, was warned two years ago by the league's integrity manager Brett Clothier that peptides posed "a serious risk" to the competition.

Mark Thompson is escorted by security as he leaves AFL House on Tuesday.

Mark Thompson is escorted by security as he leaves AFL House on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

In the aftermath of the AFL Commission hearing where Hird came to an agreement with the league that he had contributed to Essendon's failure to ensure the welfare of its players, a forthright and candid Thompson said "alarm bells should have gone off in somebody's eyes" after Essendon's decision to follow the path of a controversial supplements program.

"James Hird went and inquired about peptides," Thompson told Channel Nine's Footy Classified on Tuesday night.

"They've sat down, talked to Hirdy, and said 'don't go down that path'. He's gone. We've gone down that path.

"He had the meeting. He's not saying he wasn't warned.

"We obviously went down a path. The alarm bells should have gone off in somebody's eyes."

But the Geelong premiership and senior assistant Essendon coach was firm in his belief that the AFL could have done more to help prevent problems earlier.

"The AFL knew about this problem ... and what I would really like is that if they did know about the problem, come and talk to the club. Come and look inside our club. Ask the questions. It might have been prevented."

Thompson said he had a lot of sympathy for Hird and he knew the club was in for a fight after the coach's solicitor reportedly told Hird to stand down in April.

"How did it get to that? From that point on when he said I thought 'wooo, we're in for a fight here'," Thompson said.

"The way he has been treated ... if people had just been really honest and come up and said 'this is the problem' ... it could have been dealt with better.

"If ever this happens again – any crisis, whether it's Essendon, supplements or another club with another issue, if we don't learn from this situation, then the game's going to be worse for it.

"If the AFL don't talk to us about how to handle it better ... because we were on the other end of it and getting a hammering all year, they'd be silly because we'd have a lot of answers for them."

Several Essendon figures have already called on Thompson to become the club's fill-in coach during Hird's suspension in 2014.

But Thompson said he hadn't given that much thought. "We haven't spoken about it once. I'm not sure what their intentions are. It's hard.

"After the two days I've had, it's hard to think what I really want to do. It has been a pretty intense two days."

The experienced coach also shed some light on his thoughts about Essendon when he returned to Windy Hill before the 2011 season.

"Everyone looks at Essendon as this great club," Thompson said.

"I walked into Essendon (and thought), we’re not a very good club, there’s a lot of areas we need to fix up, let’s get on with this job.

"Not just blaming the board, but … the football department, every part of how we were doing thing wasn’t up to a level that was going to get us back up to the top eight, top four, preliminary finals, grand finals."

Thompson defended the appointment of strength and conditioning coach Dean Robinson, saying no-one had wanted 'The Weapon' to leave when he worked under Thompson at Geelong.

"(Robinson) had the same role at Essendon that he had at Geelong, but Essendon wasn't a good enough club to manage him. That's our whole problem."

Despite the massive damage the supplements scandal had inflicted on the club, Thompson predicted the Bombers would bounce back quickly.

"This is a pretty bad day and it's been a bad year for the club in so many ways .... but on-field we feel like we've done a lot right.

"This is not the end of our season next year, or the year after. If anything it's going to make us stronger."


  • Pretty simple really- Essendon thought they could get away with it, and didn't, now it's everyone else's fault. Just wear the consequences.

    Date and time
    August 28, 2013, 4:19PM
    • Stevo, its pretty obvious that Essendon are wearing the consequences when you look at the penalties that have been handed down. Gillon McLaughlin the deputy CEO of the AFL today agreed with Thompson and said the AFL must take some responsibility and he is happy to do that. So its not "everyone else's fault" as you state, but the fault of ALL stakeholders who knew of the issue. This includes EFC, the 4 individuals from the club, and the AFL...........

      Michael of Eynesbury
      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 4:36PM
    • I agree - bit rich to go blaming the afl now!

      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 4:36PM
    • Just like blaming Boieng for 911!

      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 4:45PM
    • Classic stuff Bombers.

      Governance is seen as one of their massive failings here.

      So what does the administration do? Give one guilty party a 2 year contract extension and appoint the other one as the new coach.

      The players must be really stupid if they stick by and let their health be risked by these muppets. Rats leave a sinking ship, so let's see the first ones go...

      Blues Man
      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 4:50PM
    • Shift the blame! I haven’t heard the players were in the AFL offices getting regular unknown injections from Demetriou

      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 5:05PM
    • And if the AFL had intervened then the club would have been up in arms about oversight and bulling by the AFL and infringing on their privacy, and intruding into club business and possible leaks of private information etc etc

      Give me strength.

      You knew it was wrong but you kept on doing it and got caught. Take it like a man and not a whiny child.

      SW Vic
      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 5:11PM
    • My take on it, Hird, despite being warned against pushing the boundaries was hell bent on winning at all costs. This was a program designed to send Hird's massive ego into the stratosphere. He could almost smell it, an untried coach who was never an assistant coach, strolls in like the messiah and takes his club to a premiership in just his second year. As Robinson stated, Hird wanted to match Collingwood, but not through hard work, he wanted fame instantly. This is a guy who has happily soaked up the plaudits from the media and his worshipping fans for years. He has become a victim of his own ego, an ego allowed to grow to monolithic proportions because of the supporters misguided reverence for a man they do not know.

      Blues Man
      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 5:20PM
    • Sounds like you all have selective hearing. Firstly he did not blame the AFL, Essendon have taken responsibility, hence the punishment handed down, or did you all forget about that bit. He was raising the question that the AFL new about this back in 2011, and did nothing else about it, but the AFL state that the health and well being of the players is first and foremost (as it should be). If the AFL truly believe this, then absolutely they should have done more. The AFL cannot say they did everything they could to prevent this. Gillon Mac has even admitted to this that there were failings by the AFL. Its a good idea to get some of your facts straight before banging on about Essendon deflecting the blame. Ridiculous.

      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 5:30PM
    • @Boyd78. The AFL told Hird not to go down that path and why. He went there anyway. They thought they were dealing with an adult not a petulant child. That was the only mistake made by the AFL.

      Date and time
      August 28, 2013, 5:45PM

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ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
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SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
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HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
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WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
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COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
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MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
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CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
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GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
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WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
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HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
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GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
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PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
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ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
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COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
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MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
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SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
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ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
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RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
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HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
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COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
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NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
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Round 22
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GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
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GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
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ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
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Round 24
Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
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Round 25
Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
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Round 26
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
WCE 80vs NTH 55 Report Stats
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Round 27
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
HAW 107vs WCE 61 Report Stats
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Overall standings
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Fremantle 22 17 5 0 118.73 68
West Coast Eagles 22 16 5 1 148.22 66
Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
Sydney Swans 22 16 6 0 127.12 64
Richmond 22 15 7 0 123.09 60
Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
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