Click here to submit your sports results for The Canberra Times

Eastlake Demons sack coach Anthony Bourke with one year left on contract

Eastlake coach Anthony Bourke has been sacked by the club after a disappointing North-East Australian Football League season which yielded just three wins from 18 games. 

Bourke was told by Eastlake boss Anthony Ratcliffe and football manager Stephen Soulsby at a meeting on Monday night they had decided to terminate his contract with one year left on a two-year deal. 

Soulsby and Ratcliffe declined to comment when contacted on Tuesday morning, but confirmed the decision via a press release after the playing group was told. 

"Following the recent announcement of changes to the NEAFL competition for 2015 and beyond, Eastlake Football Club has made the decision not to extend head coach Anthony Bourke's contract," it said. 

"Eastlake believes a full-time coach is required to assist the club going forward, particularly given the demands under the proposed new NEAFL structure. 

"The club would like to thank Anthony for his time and commitment since taking on the role in 2012. 


"The club is moving forward with the recruitment of a new coach, with the hope of securing the role by mid-September."

Bourke said he was disappointed no board or football committee members, whom he was told were influential in making the decision, attended Monday's meeting. 

He had been at the helm of the club for three years, and signed a two-year extension at the end of the 2013 season. 

"The meeting I had they virtually said it was a board or footy committee decision, but there were no representatives there," Bourke said. 

"They couldn't give me much information about what it was all about, which was a bit disappointing.

"My understanding was there was going to be a review done at the end of the season. They'd obviously made up their mind.

"The CEO said it was a decision made at the board level, it would have been nice to hear from them."

Bourke has known for weeks the writing was on the wall. He expressed his frustration at what he felt was a lack of transparency during the process. 

"I was aware they were talking to [other] people which made my job quite difficult, [it's] quite undermining while you're trying to coach a team, especially young players," Bourke said. 

"The players were aware of it, too, they were coming to me and saying I've heard this and that. They were quite loyal, which was nice. 

"I did confront them at board meetings what was going on, and to their credit they eventually did come out and tell me [they were looking at other options]. It took some prodding."

Eastlake and Ainslie will be Canberra's sole representatives in the NEAFL next year after the league underwent a significant revamp.

Keen to blood youth, the Demons lost a number of senior players before this season, including former Sydney Swans Ryan Brabazon and Matt O'Dwyer.

Bourke said he was disappointed he did not get another year to continue developing young players.

"We restructured our list pretty heavily last year, and took maybe 20 to 25 per cent out of our playing budget," he said.

"The deal was for two years to rebuild, it's a bit disappointing I don't get to finish that but you roll with the punches. We could have kept a few of the older senior players we didn't keep, but we didn't see that as a way of moving forward. 

"We need to revamp the way we do things and a change of coach is another step forward for them to do that. 

"They're talking about a possible full-time coaching role, which is a good idea."

Bourke said he still planned to attend training on Thursday night and help the club's division one team prepare for its finals campaign.