The 2014 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup – Coaching Advice

Greetings Tipsters


There’s been a lot of talk about Cameron Ling’s coaching aspirations lately. I’m concerned for the fellow. I like his refusal to wear a tie, to keep his hair a bit long (take note, Richo, you look like a cyborg with that short hair), to keep on surfing. But the question is lurking there and I don’t believe he has the distance to assess things properly.


So I’ve put together a coaching career path, for Cam and every other ex-player. I’m doing this for the sake of the game, but if Cam wants to invite me into the coaches’ box on Grand Final Day, I won’t refuse.


The coaching career path should be pretty straightforward these days. So you’d think. Ken Hinkley has demonstrated that a long apprenticeship is the best way to go. Just ask Michael Voss.


Anyway, to save Cam the stress, I’ve writ it out.


First, you score a gig as a ‘development’ coach or a specialist. In Cam’s case, midfield coach. Stick with it for a few years, learn the way it really works, cos I doubt you’d know anything about being a coach unless you were right there in the middle, flashing your white board around at the last break.


Now you’ve established your credentials, get a gig as a senior coach in a state league. Here’s where you learn the responsibility of being in charge. You’ll manage players, deal with sponsors, the club board, you gotta make the tough decisions, cf, is the injured club champion worth risking in a final?


Note here, Cam, Gary Ayres played with a lot of hair. Not as much as me, but a rich crop nonetheless. He went the short hair when coaching in AFL and his record was not a great one. Then he got the job with Port Melbourne, let his hair grow out a bit and, hey presto! Premierships!


So always be you. Don’t start wearing a tie and putting the clippers to your skull if you don’t want to do it.


After a few years in the WAFL, SANFL, or VFL, and preferably with a premiership on your CV, it’s time to head back to the AFL. Get a senior assistant coaching gig at a club that plays finals. With a record like yours, they’ll be queuing for your services.


Don’t grab the first offer. Hang back, make them want you. If you’ve done good so far, St Kilda and Richmond will be hammering your front door to take over the master coach role. Ignore them. Take a 2IC gig with Hawthorn or Sydney or whichever happens to be the power club at the time. Put in a few years there, be a part of a flag team and you can write your own contract for the head coach gig.


Easy, eh? Nothing to it. Make sure you get your AFL coaching accreditation first, though. It’d be embarassing showing up for work without it.


Can’t help but wonder how I’d do as an AFL coach. Doubt I’d last too long, beer and bong in the box, burning furniture in the back lane the night after a loss, I’d be pulling beers at Dale Lewis’ pub two days later.


So don’t get deep into flaming chairs, Cam, performance art needs the right context.


Still, it’s a strange consensus, ‘Cameron Ling must coach!’ I wouldn’t want to be in his place – aside from the early morning surf.


And so to the ladder. Sydney are a win clear and Geelong lack percentage, but otherwise the Fantastic Five are the hot shit, aren’t they? Hawthorn are troubled, Port are tiring, Syd and Freo may win every match this year until they meet each other in the Grand Final.


And so to the Brownlow betting. Boy, hasn’t Gaz’ shoulder thrown everyone for a loop? Scott Pendlebury has the odds now, but the likes of Nat Fyfe and Josh Kennedy can’t be too far behind.


Heath Shaw copped a brain injury when he rammed his face in Kurt Tippet’s knee. I’ve had one of those. Wasn’t allowed to drive or ride for three months. I thought I was okay after three weeks. Good friends took a few years to admit that they thought I was off the trolley for months and seriously doubted whether I’d ever return.


That’s brain injuries for ya. You wouldn’t have a clue if you were fit or not. I’d walk up the road and think “Gee, they painted the pub overnight.” The bit of my brain damaged included that which runs visual associations. A lot of my books looked strange, like the pix were shot two seconds later and one yard to the side of where I remembered them. I oft thought about checking out my album covers, but didn’t do it.


I couldn’t listen to music, watch movies, read or think. Everything hurt, other than Panadol, cigarettes and water. All I could do was reminisce. Which may seem kinda nice but it really drags after a few weeks – tho I do have a hell of a lot to reminisce over.


I wish Heath all the best. He has professional medical gurus hanging over him at all times. He didn’t fracture the back of his skull. But he is surrounded by folks who want him back on the park. Take it easy, Heath, take as much time as you want. You’ve only got one brain.


Let’s look ahead. Frinite, Hawthorn travel to Adelaide. No guarantee either way. Hawks could miss the Four. Melbourne host Geelong, Roos aint THAT good a coach. North play St Kilda. ‘Nuff said. The Dogs v Schoolies could go either way. Maybe the Lions v Wiggles could too. Sydney host Carlton. ‘Nuff said.


Come Sunday and Richmond host Port at the Terrordome. Richmond might be better now they don’t have to worry about playing finals, equally, Port may be worse for worrying too much. Essendon and Collingwood at the MCG and the Bummers may grab this one. Latest match, the Monaros fly to Perth to meet the Wharfies. I’m gonna watch it, but not with a great sense of hope.


Good luck, Tipsters


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About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Dave Brown says

    Sage advice – the last bloke that had the ‘must coach’ tag has had a few issues…

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