Brayshaw must be next
North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw has not only 'failed to strongly represent the club ... he has failed to embrace it'. Photo: Getty Images
The chairman needs to follow Eugene Arocca out the door.
EUGENE Arocca, the passionate former Magpie who fell in love with James Brayshaw and the North Melbourne Football Club, jumped yesterday before he was pushed. But the very nature of his departure demands that Brayshaw must now walk away as chairman of the Kangaroos.
It is almost three years since Brayshaw sat close to tears as he farewelled his friend and former senior coach Dean Laidley. Where Arocca was concerned, he was less emotional and less convincing. The chairman said the pair continued to enjoy a good relationship, a statement which was unbelievable.
Brayshaw wistfully stated he must now search for a new chief executive. Yesterday's hot rumour that Australian soccer chief and former Kangaroos vice-captain Ben Buckley was a candidate was convincingly denied by Buckley to The Age last night.
Brayshaw listed Arocca's achievements and these were fair enough. North has not had a brilliant four years since Brayshaw took over with a mandate to keep the club in Melbourne. But any failings were not Arocca's alone and few of the club's wins can be attributed to the chairman, whose biggest decisions have been made on the run.
Not only has Brayshaw failed to strongly represent the club - forcing coach Brad Scott into that role when his time could surely have been better spent - but he has failed to embrace it. There are few famous old North Melbourne names and families who do not feel let down by him.
The relationship that began so strongly with Arocca showed signs of strain in 2010, during Scott's first season. Brayshaw's circle soon realised that the North chairman was less than enamoured with certain aspects of his CEO's performance and occasionally turbulent nature.
Arocca became frustrated by Brayshaw's lack of support and leadership. He was not alone in this. The chairman who was so lacking in corporate experience failed to capitalise on his media profile when low-profile North needed him most. Again and again he was unable to attend key meetings with sponsors.
Brayshaw's pre-election gaffe regarding a stadium deal with a government that was voted out only days later still rankles with certain members of Premier Ted Baillieu's team.
The accusations delivered by Arocca via a report in yesterday's Australian regarding Brayshaw's movements in Launceston four days ago were not unusual. The club's relationship with Tasmania is crucial and yet before the Hawthorn game Brayshaw was fulfilling a pre-match role with Triple M, which included a tense interview with Scott.
The chairman sat silent throughout the exchange before intervening with a couple of wishy-washy questions. Scott has been forced to show leadership in an off-field sense when all around him appeared to be shuffling deckchairs and yet Brayshaw delivered little on radio on his coach's behalf. Later, he changed hats and stood by as Scott attempted to explain a 115-point loss.
Meanwhile, Arocca was sitting with federal ALP powerbroker and staunch North Melbourne man Simon Crean. According to witnesses, Crean commented to Arocca: ''I thought you told me the president wasn't going to be in Tasmania.'' Arocca agreed before Crean pointed to Brayshaw sitting in a statisticians' box not far from the coaches. For Arocca this could have proven the final straw, although he was smart enough to realise Brayshaw and his brother, Mark - the numbers man on the board - no longer sufficiently rated him.
There are so many examples of Brayshaw's absences - and he is showing no inclination to alter his life in any way to favour the Roos. Last year, on the night North hosted its one-and-only Friday night game against Carlton, club director Trevor O'Hoy hosted the function while Brayshaw fulfilled his radio commitments. Key Kangaroos directors made their feelings known to Blues board members regarding Brayshaw's failure to appear when key sponsors and politicians were in attendance.
Behind the scenes Arocca, signed until the end of 2012, fumed as he realised North's board would not be supporting his contract extension despite the fact football boss Donald McDonald had won a new deal beyond this season. McDonald played more than 100 games for the Roos and his teenage son Luke is tipped to be worthy of a high first-round draft choice.
You would think McDonald as well as Scott and the players must bear some responsibility for North's disappointing season to date. But McDonald is very close to Brayshaw, as he is to the president's big brother and fellow North director Mark. The view from North insiders is that Mark Brayshaw is the man who pulls the strings at board level. It was Mark who had been leading the charge with the AFL to relocate the Kangaroos to the Gold Coast, but then jumped off the bus to support his brother.
With the two Brayshaws and McDonald, assistant coach and former premiership player Darren Crocker makes up a quartet playfully referred to at Arden Street as ''The Boys Club''. Yesterday, they got their man. Arocca might not have been the AFL's most dynamic chief executive, but the club's off-field performance had shown no cause for concern this season. On Monday the AFL's finance boss Ian Anderson reported the Kangaroos were on budget and managing their debt. As recently as the weekend, AFL boss Andrew Demetriou privately praised their work this season.
More recently the Kangaroos' biggest woes have involved their on-field performances. But yesterday the chief executive was removed. He will return to his former life as a lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, while all around Melbourne yesterday text messages between old Kangaroos reported that ''The Boys Club'' had claimed another scalp.