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James Hird decision influenced by media agendas, says Essendon coach Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson and James Hird discuss plans in 2012.

Mark Thompson and James Hird discuss plans in 2012. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Interim Essendon coach Mark Thompson has suggested that the decision to keep James Hird away from a match-day role in 2014 was influenced by the media and public perception.

Speaking three days after the Bombers confirmed that Hird would play only a peripheral part in the club's 2014 finals push when he returns from his 12-month suspension on August 25, Thompson hinted that if the situation were placed in a vacuum, Hird would return without delay.

“You guys are powerful ... the media drive agendas,” Thompson told Fox Footy's AFL 360 program on Monday night.

The 10-7 Bombers currently sit seventh on the AFL ladder, and are positioned well for what would be just their third visit to the finals since 2004. With the stakes so high, Thompson believed the decision to keep Hird away from the coach's box had been made to promote the best interests of the club's players.

“We feel that if he is seen out on the ground then the story will be about him and not the players.

“The players missed out on the finals last year and to go through another series ... people don’t want it to be about James Hird. They want it to be about the footy."

Thompson denied accusations that Hird has been shunned by Essendon.

“We haven’t shifted him, we haven’t shut him out,” he said.

“The club won’t be disadvantaged. He’ll be involved. He’ll be doing lots of work, the day he comes back.”

Thompson also indicated he had spoken with 39-year-old Dustin Fletcher about the prospect of the defender venturing into a 23rd AFL season in 2015. Fletcher has 392 games to his name but mixed form in recent weeks has raised questions about whether he will play on in an attempt to become just the third man in VFL/AFL history to play 400 games.

“I had a chat to him. We’ve had a chat with him and his manager just to clear everything up,” Thompson said.

“We’ll see what happens.”

70 comments so far

  • It would hardly be surprising that the players don't want Hird around. After all, all the suffering they've been through in the last few years was ultimately because Hird failed to take responsibility in the way that would be expected of a senior coach.

    Commenter
    andyl12
    Date and time
    July 29, 2014, 9:40AM
    • Precisely!

      Commenter
      Better days
      Location
      South Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 10:19AM
    • +1

      Commenter
      Office Rabbit
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 10:23AM
    • Uhhhmmmm Mark - I would have thought the main reason Hird isn't coaching has nothing to do with the media (which you appear to be happily a part of), but more to do with orchestrating a systematic doping program putting at risk the lives of 34 young footballers

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 10:29AM
    • Andy, the players have made it clear that they DO want Hird around. I'm sure if they didn't want Hird around they would make it clear that they DIDN'T want Hird around. This stuff is not all that complicated.

      But please, if you can find one comment, even a throw-away comment, one tweet, one FB comment, anything at all from any Essendon player in the past two years that even hints that they might not want Hird back then post it. Because all I ever get from them is #StandByHird. On the other hand, if you get on their Twitter feeds (one of the few ad-hoc communication vehicles that AFL footballers seem to be allowed to use) you'll see bucket loads of evidence for their support.

      Commenter
      Laki
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 10:50AM
    • Laki, do you think the players would come out and say they don’t want Hird around and put more pressure on the club? The players saying they want Hird back is akin to the Board of a club saying that the coach has their full support, then the coach gets sacked a few weeks later.
      Little was fully on board the #standbyhird and was open in saying he will coach as soon as his suspension end, but wait Little has back flipped, again.
      There's still a lot to play out. What would be good is for the Bombers dropped the court cases and fronted up to ASADA. If they are confident that the players took nothing illegal then prove it instead of postponing it at every turn. Not sure Little and Essendon can say they want the best for the players and want this over quickly by prolonging the process

      Commenter
      Joe
      Location
      my work desk
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 2:31PM
    • Joe - maybe the players wouldn't come out and say they didn't want Hird back. But I'm responding to an assertion that the players don't want him around, and asking for proof. Actually, just the slightest indication from any one player at any time at all would do!

      As for your comment - "If they are confident that the players took nothing illegal then prove it instead of postponing it at every turn" ... ask yourself what you would do if you believed you were innocent of something and felt the investigation was severely compromised? If I were up on a charge for a murder I didn't commit, for example, I would be all over any illegalities in the investigation, wouldn't you? Or would you just let them slide?

      Commenter
      Laki
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 3:24PM
    • @ Joe,

      "If they are confident that the players took nothing illegal then prove it."

      It's not up to the club or the players to have to prove their innocence. It should be up to ASADA to prove their guilt.

      No doubt you would be rather upset at being accused of something, and be told you were effectively guilty unless you could prove your innocence.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 4:13PM
  • How bizarre that this has been inflated into some massive story - it's like, anything involving James Hird is Major Headline material. Why the obsession? I'm a lifelong Bombers fan and have always idolised Hird, so I suppose I have an excuse, but really if I was a non-Essendon support I'd be so over this that there'd be no way in hell I'd click on a link to read about the latest hypotheses on whether Hird will sit in the box or on the bench or carry the oranges on August 26th. Seriously - I know I'm a tragic but the rest of you need a life.

    Commenter
    Laki
    Location
    Windy Hill
    Date and time
    July 29, 2014, 10:28AM
    • Why the obsession with someone so big in football in a football mad city? I wonder? If Hird had no idea, then he failed in his duties as senior coach, If Hird had any idea then he failed in his duty of care to his players and club, he has bought this all upon himself and continues to draw attention to this. I think its called ego?

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 12:50PM

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