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James Hird says he is keen to return to Essendon

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James Hird back in Melbourne

After 4 months at an exclusive business school in France, Essendon coach James Hird is ready to return to coaching.

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Suspended Essendon coach James Hird is back in Melbourne, and he is keen to return to his club, pending a discussion with fill-in coach Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson.

“I haven’t caught up with Bomber yet, but we’ll catch up now I’m back and I look forward to getting back to the club as soon as I can,” Hird told media outside his Toorak home this morning.

Hird returned to Australia earlier than expected last night. He was originally expected to be back in Melbourne on July 28.

2011: Bombers coach James Hird and assistant coach Mark Thompson.

2011: Bombers coach James Hird and assistant coach Mark Thompson. Photo: Paul Rovere

Channel Seven reporter Michael Felgate told 3AW that Hird had a “beautiful tan” after his months in France at a business school.

A Federal Court trial between Essendon and Hird against the Australian Sports Anti Doping Agency, launched after the anti-doping body issued show-cause notices to 34 current and former players, is scheduled to begin on August 11.

Hird’s 12 month suspension for his role in the "pharmacologially experimental" Essendon supplements program ends in round 23, and there has been much debate in recent days as to whether his presence in the coaching box might prove a distraction to the team, which has climbed into the top eight despite the pressure on players, who may become subject to anti-doping infraction notices.

James Hird outside his home this morning.

James Hird outside his home this morning. Photo: Eddie Jim

There are now questions surrounding Thompson's future, and whether he will take his expertise elsewhere or stay with the Bombers.

Thompson said on Sunday that the players were his main focus.

"They don't want us to be a distraction, so it's not going to be," he said.

"We are not talking about it, and I have not even decided what I'm doing next year.

"All I know is they didn't want it to be a gap year and it's not. We are still alive.

"We're a chance to play finals and we want to make sure that happens.

Bombers chairman Paul Little has said Thompson "has a clear understanding of the process" that will take place later in the season.

In February, Little said Hird would be welcomed back for the round 23 clash.

The Bombers are likely to seek AFL feedback before any decision is ratified.

Essendon great Tim Watson recently called Hird's future at the club into question. Watson told Channel Seven: “I have said from day one that I hold all those who were in positions of power at Essendon at the time responsible in some ways and they shoulder varying degrees of blame. James has to take responsibility, which he did on day one.

“I think this will become messier for him and the Essendon Football Club the longer it goes on and, in particular, if infraction notices are handed to players.”

- with staff reporters

76 comments so far

  • Lord Jim should come straight back into the side....he's done his time...don't forget he'll be in "a very good place when the truth come out"...maybe that means the coach's box!

    Commenter
    So He Shood
    Location
    Windy Hill
    Date and time
    July 23, 2014, 10:14AM
    • Lord Jim?? Geez, Essendon people love a bit of hero worshipping dont they? Will he still be Lord Jim if or when players are found to be ill? Serious question, if it happens, will you still laud him with the same ridiculous enthusiasm as you do now? You know, he is a huge part of the reason Essendon are in this mess yet you treat him like he is god.

      Commenter
      razor
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 10:56AM
    • Lord Jim should be banned from the club and AFL coaching for at least 5 years.

      Commenter
      JB
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 10:57AM
    • You've got to be kidding! This is a fellow who, admittedly while playing a champion, placed himself above his players, his club and the great game; then he ran away to Europe.
      If the AFL weren't so gutless he'd be banned for life.
      What an absolute joke; but, not a very funny one.

      Commenter
      crowsfeet
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:09AM
    • You're living in Noddy Land mate. "When the truth finally comes out"...after 18 months it's still hidden away is it and James Hird's innocence will miraculously emerge?? Essendon supporters seem to think that because Hird was a champion player it's impossible that he made major blunders as a coach & tried to be too clever by half using drugs to assist the team's performance. The fitness coach, CEO, President, they all deserve to go permanently, but not the guy in charge of the football department. Mind you, I hope he does come back. Thompson is a far better coach so I'd be happy to see him replaced.

      Commenter
      SteveR
      Location
      McKinnon, Vic
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:10AM
    • Lord Jim should never return to a football club in any capacity.

      Commenter
      baz
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:15AM
    • Cannot wait for James to return. :) :) :)

      Commenter
      Laki
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:35AM
    • Oh you non believers...listen to Gus!
      He has done nothing wrong....He (and Bomber) have probably ensured none of these players ever get sick!
      Brave men just doing their duty and helping everyone at the same time...think of the research breakthroughs!
      The AFL should be organising the "welcome home" party as we speak!
      If Lord Jim doesn't make it into the box the day after his suspension is up, he should just sue....not sure who, but sue them anyway

      Commenter
      So He Shood
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 11:55AM
    • Yes a fully funded trip to France is really "doing time".

      Commenter
      Catherine
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 12:14PM
    • So He Shood, you my friend are even more deluded than most. How have Hird and co 'ensured' no player gets ill? The only thing he ensured was to administer unkown substances to young men with no knowledge of what they were or the effect they had and that is atrocious. Lord Hird as you put it has accepted nothing and whether you like it or not, will only ever be viewed outside of Essendon as the man who presided over an illegal supplement program. You know what...you and your club can have him.

      Commenter
      Azza
      Date and time
      July 23, 2014, 12:29PM

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