Hird et al: some observations

Throughout: soft music; “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road…”



Essendon chairman Paul Little: We’d prefer it if you didn’t challenge the High Court ruling.

James Hird: I’m going to challenge the High Court ruling.




“The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.”

Charles Dickens, Bleak House



What was supposed to be a one-day hearing will drag into Tuesday after Hird’s counsel, Peter Hanks, QC, presented his arguments over 3 1/2 hours on Monday, and reiterated his team’s belief that ASADA’s probe into Essendon’s supplements program was unlawful because it was a joint investigation with the AFL.

Adam Cooper and Jon Pierik, The Age, 10 November 2014



Veruca Salt: They’re not even trying! They don’t want to find it! They’re jealous of me!

Mr. Salt: Sweetheart, I can’t push them no harder; 19,000 bars an hour they’re shelling; 760,000 they’ve done so far.

Veruca Salt: You promised, Daddy! You promised I’d have it the very first day!

Mrs. Salt: You’re going to be very unpopular around here, Henry, if you don’t deliver soon.

Mr. Salt: It breaks my heart, Henrietta. I hate to see her unhappy.

Veruca Salt: I won’t talk to you ever again! You’re a mean father, you’ll never give me anything I want! And I won’t go to school till I have it!

Mr. Salt: Veruca, sweetheart, angel. Now, there are four tickets left in the whole world, and the whole ruddy world’s hunting for them! What can I do?

Transcript from 1971 movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory



“Hird played as a midfielder and half forward, but was often given free rein by former Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy to play wherever he thought necessary.“

Wikipedia search “James Hird” 4 October 2014.



“I have not taken this decision lightly. I believe this is the right course or action and is in the best interests of the Essendon Football Club, its players, the supporters and the game.”

James Hird statement to media 2 October 2014



“Daddy, I want a boat like this! I want you to buy me a big pink boiled-sweet boat exactly like Mr Wonka’s! And I want lots of Oompa-Loompas to row me about, and I want a chocolate river and I want… I want…”

Veruca Salt in “Charlie and the chocolate factory,” by Roald Dahl.



“I want to captain Essendon to a premiership, marry a blonde girl and live happily ever after.”

J Hird aged 10, “The Age” 4 October 2014



“To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring

Is beneath all adult dignity.”

Seamus Heaney, “Personal Helicon”



The report states: “In or about October 2011, Hird received, on Club premises, vials of Melanotan II and syringes from Club High Performance Coach Dean Robinson. Robinson instructed Hird how to self-administer injections of Melanotan II. Hird was aware that Robinson asked Hird no questions about his medical history prior to providing Hird with the Melanotan II and gave no advice as to any potential adverse reactions to the substance.”

Richard Baker, Nick McKenzie, The Age, 21 August 2013



“The narcissistic manager will have two main sources of narcissistic supply: inanimate – status symbols like cars, gadgets or office views; and animate – flattery and attention from colleagues and subordinates.”

J. DuBrin, Narcissism in the Workplace: Research, Opinion and Practice (2012) p. 143



“It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

“A picture of Dorian Gray,” Oscar Wilde



Veruca Salt: Daddy, I want a squirrel. Get me one of those squirrels, I want one!

Mr. Salt: Veruca dear, you have many marvellous pets.

Veruca Salt: All I’ve got at home is one pony and two dogs and four cats and six bunny rabbits and two parakeets and three canaries and a green parrot and a turtle, and a silly old hamster! I WANT a SQUIRREL!

Mr. Salt: All right, pet. Daddy’ll get you a squirrel just as soon as he possibly can.

Veruca Salt: But I don’t want any old squirrel! I want a *trained* squirrel!

Mr. Salt: [wearily] Very well. Mr. Wonka? How much do you want for one of these squirrels? Name your price.

Willy Wonka: Oh they’re not for sale. She can’t have one.

Veruca Salt: Daddy!

Willy Wonka: [imitating Mr. Salt] I’m sorry, darling. Mr. Wonka’s being unreasonable.

Transcript from 1971 movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory



“Jim played with distinction and fairness. He coped with adversity extremely well. His Brownlow Medal and the five best and fairest awards are testament to the fact that others had the same view.

“He is coping with his current adversity well. Knowing him as I do, I am confident that he will continue to do so without gratuitous advice from others about how to behave.”

Allan Hird, Letter to the Editor, The Age, ~11 February 2014



A status symbol is a perceived visible, external denotation of one’s social position and perceived indicator of economic or social status.

Cherrington, David J. (1994). Organizational Behavior. Allyn and Bacon. p. 384.




“The Board recognises the rights of James to pursue his appeal of the recent Federal Court decision. James remains senior coach of the Essendon Football Club and will work closely with other members of the Football Department during this particularly important trade and planning period in preparation for the 2015 season.”

Essendon Football Club statement, 6 October 2014



‘(Mike)Fitzpatrick said the Bombers, who are seventh in the AFL premiership, will officially finish ninth for the season.

“The club will forfeit its place in the 2013 AFL finals series,” he said.

“It will not play in the 2013 finals series, being deemed to have finished the 2013 premiership season in ninth position.

“The club is prohibited from exercising at the 2013 and 2014 national drafts its round one and round two selections.

“The Essendon football club in 2014 will be granted a selection at the end of round one at the national draft prior to any compensation selections otherwise awarded and under the rules.” ‘

ABConline 23 September 2013



Essendon coach Matthew Knights has been sacked.

The coach of the past three years was told shortly after 1pm today that his time at the club was finished in a meeting with Bombers chairman David Evans.

Knights and his manager Daniel Richardson met Evans earlier this afternoon and it is understood the decision came after an 8am board meeting.

Essendon now faces a two-year payout which could reach $800,000.

Caroline Wilson, The Age, August 29 2010.



“ ‘I want an Oompa-Loompa!’ screamed Veruca.”

Veruca Salt in “Charlie and the chocolate factory,” by Roald Dahl.



“We would have preferred James had not have appealed. He took the decision to do that and we’re still talking to him about that decision.”

Paul Little on James Hird’s decision-making capacity, 2 October 2014


“JAMES Hird has kept his job as Essendon coach after another day of high drama at the Bombers.

Hird left the club’s Tullamarine training base with a sense of relief.

“I’m still the coach, so that is great,” he said.

Mark Robinson, Herald Sun, 6 October 2014



Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest.

Wikipedia search “Acceptance”, November 2014



“Speaking outside Essendon’s base after crisis talks with Bombers chief executive Paul Little, Hird said: “Yes, I am still the coach”, before battling through reporters and leaving in his car without further comment.”

The Age, 2 October 2014



Mr. Salt: Where is she going?

Willy Wonka: Where all the other bad eggs go, down the garbage chute.

Mr. Salt: [laughs] Oh, the garbage chute. Where does it lead to?

Willy Wonka: To the furnace.

Mr. Salt: [laughs] The furnace! She’ll be sizzled like a sausage.

Willy Wonka: No, not necessarily. She could be stuck just inside the tube.

Mr. Salt: Inside the…

[he starts suddenly in shock and runs]

Mr. Salt: Hold on! Veruca! Sweetheart! Daddy’s coming!

[dives down the chute]

Willy Wonka: There’ll be a lot of garbage today.

Transcript from 1971 movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. I’m glad that the Spring Carnival has now extended to the courts. It allows my fascination (fascinators?) with Tania’s raincoat etiquette to now extend to scarves.
    Whip me; beat me…………

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Superb OBP and I wish , Veruca Hird would go down the garbage chute straight to the furnace

  3. Jimmy doesn’t seem to get it. Like those who boo at a funeral.

  4. As ever, very very clever David, and any reference to Willy Wonka gratefully accepted


  5. Ahh, Dips, yes.
    Or like a person who denigrate someone within hours of their death.
    Just doesn’t seem to get it.

    Gene Wilder at peak form.

    Are we done with Jarndyce & Jarndyce yet?

  6. Artful and probing David. I maintain Hird was the most clever footballer I’ve seen. On TV, I knew he was good, but seeing him play live was tremendous.

    However, he’s tumbling down rapidly. Is it just pride?

  7. Bob Speechley says

    To quote Albert Camus:

    “The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.”

  8. Bob Speechley says

    Furthermore from Camus:

    “All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football.”

  9. Masterful piece. Hird reminds me of King Canute, but instead of water he believes he can turn back the fact of what happened using young men as test subjects.

    These days when Hird is described it will be” he was a champion footballer, but …….”.

    Bob Speechley quote of “The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind” encompasses “Team Hird” and “Team Little” approach.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    oh … Canute, I misread that.

    From his (subsequently withdrawn) writ against the AFL (and his point was ?)

    The Plaintiff, James Hird (Hird), was a champion Australian Rules Footballer
    a) played 253 games for the Essendon Football Club (Essendon) in the
    Australian Football League (AFL), the competition administered by the
    Defendant, the Australian Football League Limited, in the period 1992 to
    b) twice played (in 1993 and 2000) in an AFL premiership team while at
    c) captained Essendon in the period 1998 to 2005, including the 2000 AFL
    d) in 2000 in the AFL grand final, won the Norm Smith medal awarded to the
    player adjudged best afield;
    e) won the 1996 Chas. Brownlow Medal, awarded by the Defendant to the
    fairest and best player in the Home & Away season, as voted by the
    f) won three ANZAC Day medals for the best player afield on ANZAC Day;
    g) won five W S Crichton Medals (1994, 1995, 1996, 2004 and 2007) for best
    and fairest player at Essendon.

  11. daniel flesch says

    Way off-topic , but Dips says above ” Like those who boo at a funeral.”
    1) It wasn’t a funeral,the family held a private one. It was a Memorial Service. Different.
    2) There was no booing inside the Sydney Town Hall . (Yes , i was lucky and privileged enough to be there . There was some applause , but not for Howard and Abbott , nor Rudd for that matter. We went bananas for Julia.)
    3) The punters outside were booing the hypocrites Howard and Abbott who while pretending to show their respect for Gough are determined to undermine and destroy all his progressive achievements and initiatives.I am old enough to remember the Coalition ranting and voting against every one of ’em, as well as maligning his name and his government for years and bloody years since.
    4) Let’s just talk football here from now on.

  12. Wasn’t Hird’s core argument during 2013 that given the chance the truth would come out. Now his singular intent is to jam the truth back into the bottle and toss it as far away as possible.

  13. Great piece DW. I tuned out on the Righteous of James some time ago. Probably well before they all trapsed off to court, but certainly after the first decision was handed down. Thanks For the update.

    My main fear from all this is what comes next. If you thought it inappropriate to express public outrage at the actions of those who acted against the greater good of the community, Dips, you’d better steel yourself for the publicly expressed opprobrium from those who feel the public good of Our Great Game has been besmirched when the Essendon coach takes the field to address his charges at the huddles next season. If what happened in Perth after Jobe Watson confessed he’d taken a course of dietary treatments is anything to go by it’s not going to be pretty. And if it reaches the sustained crescendo it did when Richmond took the field in Adelaide in this year’s Elimination Final it’s going to be pretty ugly.

    Of course it wouldn’t have happened in Melbourne would it? We’re too cosmopolitan, far too sophisticated for that sort of rabid mob behaviour, aren’t we? I for one am not looking forward to putting that laudable assumption to the test. (You sure you didn’t mean to write laughable assumption there Wrap – Ed)

  14. CUT TO
    “Essendon has confirmed that Mark Thompson has finished up at the club after a tense meeting with club officials on Wednesday…
    “[Essendon chairman Paul] Little took issue with Thompson for his failure to meet the deadline to pay his $30,000 AFL-sanctioned fine, a failure the chairman believes has embarrassed the club.”
    – Caroline Wilson, The Age, Thursday 13 November

  15. Essendon sacking Mark Thompson for Hird is the greatest club decision/coaching masterstroke since Grant Thomas replaced Malcolm Blight.
    I have a feeling that all those Essendon members who cheered Bomber to the rooftops at the AGM, will be storming the Bastille by July.
    I hope they don’t sack Hird until I get a chance to boo him.

  16. “a failure the chairman believes has embarassed the club”

    With everything EFC has done and been through, THIS is the thing that Little believes has caused the club to be red faced?

    Suddenly he is worried about how the club is perceived and comes across? And it’s Thompson’s fine that does it?

    Spare me

  17. CUT TO

    “Essendon coach James Hird effectively declared his innocence over the supplements saga engulfing the club, saying he would be in a “very good position” once the truth comes out.”
    AAP, ABConline 13 April 2013

    CUT TO

    “Current and former Essendon players have been placed on the register of findings by an anti-doping panel, with the AFL expected to take the next step and issue infraction notices against those 34 players.
    “The Anti-Doping Rule Violation Panel has found that there is enough evidence for the players to answer a charge of using thymosin beta 4. It follows that the AFL will issue infraction notices – which are expected to be imminent, within days – and convene a tribunal hearing.”
    Jake Niall, The Age, 13 November 2014

  18. With Christmas coming looming larger than a G20 Summit and more threatening than an an Abbott shirtfront, are you wondering what to give this Festive Season that will be worthy of the occasion? Forget that milch goat for the village in Northern India. The leopards get them before they produced their second kid. If you want the perfect gift that keeps on giving buy your loved one the Righteousness of James the Hird app. Easily adapted to iPone or Android. Available from the Hangar Merchandising Department, it comes in several colours, including Royal Purple and a becoming shade of chook raffle.

  19. CUT TO

    ‘THE full bench of the Federal Court has dismissed James Hird’s appeal against the legality of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s investigation into Essendon’s 2012 season supplement regime.
    ‘In her summary of the unanimous judgment, Justice Kenny upheld the previous finding by trial judge Justice John Middleton that the AFL and ASADA had in fact conducted separate investigations into Essendon, while co-operating closely with one another.
    ‘ “The Full Court rejects Mr Hird’s challenge essentially because it holds that the investigation conducted by ASADA, in co-operation with the AFL, was authorised by the ASADA Act, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Regulations 2006 and the NAD Scheme.”
    ‘ “This legislative scheme envisaged that there would be close co-operation between ASADA and sporting administrative bodies, such as the AFL, in anti-doping investigations.” ‘
    ‘Justice Kenny said that under the legislative scheme, ASADA was able to lawfully use the AFL’s contractual powers over Essendon players to compel them to attend interviews and answer questions.’
    Chip Le Grand, The Australian, 30 January 2015.

  20. “You only get one James Hird in your life” : Sir Frank Downright QC

  21. Funny perspective E. R. I have no love for Hirdy but respect his footy brilliance.
    He is a smart guy; so I am in two minds whether he is trying to save his own bacon but risking looking narcissistic, or whether he knows he ‘done wrong’ by his players and is doing what he can to try to save them from punishment…..while risking looking narcissistic.

  22. BD – maybe there’s a third possibility.
    If you look like a narcissist; talk like a narcissist; and behave like a narcissist; maybe you’re a……………………………..

  23. E.regnans says

    CUT TO

    “We were shocked. I think everyone around the club, everyone around Melbourne thought this wouldn’t happen,” – J Hird, 12 May 2015, when asked of his reaction to WADA’s decision to appeal the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s decision on 34 past and present Bombers players. (The Age online).

    J Hird inaccurately and repeatedly claimed that the players has previously been “found innocent.” (That never happened. Instead, the anti-doping tribunal found that they were “not comfortably satisfied” that the Essendon players had been given banned substances, including thymosin beta-4.)

  24. E.regnans says

    CUT TO

    ‘ “The Australian Football League Anti-Doping Tribunal has concluded its deliberation with respect to the sanction of the former Essendon Football Club support person found to have breached the AFL Anti-Doping Code,” tribunal chairman David Jones said in a statement.
    “The Tribunal has imposed a lifetime sanction, commencing on 25 June 2015.”
    In April, the tribunal found Dank guilty of 10 breaches of the anti-doping code from 34 charges, including trafficking, attempting to traffick and complicity in matters related to a range of prohibited substances.’
    ABC online, 25 June 2015

  25. CUT TO

    ” The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld WADA’s appeal of the AFL anti-doping tribunal’s Essendon verdict, with 34 past and present Bombers players banned for 12 months, which means they will miss the entire 2016 season.
    The club confirmed the ban on Tuesday morning.”
    ABC online, 12 January 2016

  26. CUT TO

    ‘ “I am shocked by this decision,” Hird said. “I firmly believe the players do not deserve this finding. They do not deserve to face a 12-month suspension from the sport.
    “This is a miscarriage of justice for 34 young men.” ‘

    The Age online, 13 January 2016


    CUT TO

    “Former coach James Hird, whom we believe has not been sufficiently disciplined for his role, contends the court’s decision amounts to a miscarriage of justice for the players. Hird needs to recognise that not one minute of this dangerously experimental, legally protracted and emotionally fraught saga would have occurred if he, Hird, had done what was required of a coach, a mentor, a club leader – and that was to refuse to allow fanciful concoctions of supplements and peptides to be injected into any player in his care.

    “For they were in his care. Each of those players entrusted their physical wellbeing to the club and people whom they thought were wise and experienced heads. Yet, as CAS has found, and as doping agencies say time and again, athletes themselves are ultimately responsible for their own welfare. They must have the courage and wisdom to wave away club officials and sports “scientists” if they are not 100 per cent confident about what they are administered.”

    – Editorial, The Age, 13 January 2016

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