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Why Thompson rejected Tigers

Tony Jewell with the 2012 Premiership Cup.

Tony Jewell with the 2012 Premiership Cup. Photo: Pat Scala

IN A classic case of Richmond sliding doors, the Tigers were about to offer Mark Thompson the coaching job in 2000, only to be rebuffed by the man who would guide Geelong to two flags because he didn't like their reputation.

Speaking to The Saturday Age about coaching in all its facets, Richmond's last premiership mentor Tony Jewell recalled being director of football when the club replaced Jeff Gieschen as coach, and the decision being taken to give Thompson the job. But when the then-North Melbourne assistant fronted senior Tiger officials, he spoke up before they could give him the news.

''He said, 'Look, if you've called me in to tell me I've got the job, I don't want it','' Jewell recalled this week. ''He said, 'I've made a few inquiries about Richmond and how it operates, and you're not my type of club'.''

The Tigers instead appointed Danny Frawley, while Thompson signed on for an 11-season, two-flag stint at Geelong. Jewell has always admired his honesty.

Another official from the time recalled thinking that Thompson was concerned that ''the Graeme Richmond way'' of ruthless administration still prevailed, that only the rat cunning survived, and he didn't consider himself that sort of person.

Jewell also recalled Carlton coach-in-waiting Mick Malthouse telling him at the end of the 1980 premiership season that he wanted to leave the Tigers to coach Footscray's reserves. ''I couldn't believe it,'' Jewell said. ''I talked him out of it. I said, 'Mate, you've got too much left, and your coaching time will come'.''

Of this Jewell was always certain. He remembers the Tigers as one of the first clubs to break the team into zones, under the direction of renowned sports pyschologist Rudi Webster, and appoint a player as ''captain'' of each group. ''Mick ran the back line and was magnificent. They just died for each other.

''Mick always wanted to be a coach. I took up coaching because I'd got married and needed some money, but he was always going to be a coach.''

Jewell is not surprised that Malthouse is about to take on a three-year commitment at the helm of a fourth club. ''A million a year aged 59? I wouldn't let it go, would you?''

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