The 2015 ‘Mopsy’ Fraser Cup – Round Twenty

Greetings Tipsters


It’s been a grand few weeks here at the offices of Stop Privatisation Of Footy Productions. The office itself has moved outdoors and, while I’ve yet to hang the shadecloth to cover the northern side, it’s a very satisfactory arrangement. The big desk – now with drawers full of various tools both gardening and mechanical – the star trek office chair, a radio, speakers and mp3 players.


We’re still lacking TV reception of anything other than TVS, which makes writing this column tricky. Not that I haven’t written, I’ve done two but another lengthy screed on bigotry (synopsis: we are all bigots) was hardly required after the volume of self-righteousness that had already hit the media.


But even I, in my internet and television-free cocoon, could not but hear that James Hird ‘resigned.’ It was inevitable, given that the Women’s Match outrated the Bombers/Bumblers/Bummers debacle – and more on the women later, remind me to get back to it – and the slow-motion train crash that has been their season. It was revealing that Taylor Walker should have made comment about the Essendon players lack of communication and intent, it was like breaking ranks on the players’ omerta. Combined with tales of players saying during the game that they wanted out of the club, it all points to a breakdown of catastrophic proportions unlike any other. Even Carlton, in the darkest days, never hit such depths.


Hubris writ large. Hird was a brilliant footballer, one of the very best, a man who rewarded watching him alone for several minutes, to see what he’d do, how he did it and his marvelous ability to be three or four kicks ahead of the match and place himself accordingly. None of the events of the last few years will change that.


He’s borne most of the opprobrium over the wadasada clusterfuck which, as head coach, is due. His actions since the ‘scandal broke’ have not served him well. But let’s take a step back and consider the club’s performance, starting with the sacking of Matthew Knights.


Matt had the team running and scoring but not defending very well and it was a bad time in the cyccles of footballing fashion to be doing that. So the board sacked him, paid him out two years salary and went all-out to convince their Golden Boy to return to the fold. Since retiring, Hird had had little to nothing to do with football, preferring to concentrate on his business and doing very well with it. It took quite a bit of convincing and a dream team of well-regarded club legends in the box to get him back to football.


Take a moment to reflect on the fates of two players oft associated with him, Michael Voss and Nathan Buckley. “Maaate, you’re a bloody legend! Everyone loves ya, ya gotta be the coach.” “But I’ve never done it before.” “Nah, doesn’t matter, you’re a legend, you’ll be right.”


Take another moment to reflect upon how rarely do naturally gifted players of Hir’s ilk become successful coaches. Paul Roos, whose coaching style is nothing like his playing and is somewhat overrated, and Malcom Blight, who was waaay outa the box, are the only two that spring to mind for the last 30 years.


So the much decorated genius player eventually takes on the most important role at a football club, with zero experience. He’s a smart man and, as such, would have done a lot of thinking about it. Maybe too much; sometimes it’s better to be dumb.


So. And. Then. Dank Steven and the calves placenta serum and all the rest of it. We’ll never know what James was thinking about but I’d hazard a guess, that as a neophyte under enormous pressure to perform, he figured it was an option worth pursuing. Against his instinctual judgement? Maybe.


When the shit hit the fan and went spraying all over the room, he dug in. Ah, hubris. But James or Tania? She’s a high-powered lawyer, took herself a high profile in the early days, standing by her man, seemingly. We’ll never know what they talked about but I’ll hazard another guess, by her actions, that she was pushing him to dig his heels in.


The sensible and honourable thing to do would have been to resign immediately. Admit a lack of responsibility, the club has to move on, etc. Legalities may well have affected that, in the same way that you should never say sorry after a car accident cos to do so is to admit responsibility.


Perhaps therre was a board-wide crush on James. It was terrible PR. James had a year off on full pay and enjoyed a luxurious sojourn in Paris while Mark Thompson, who really can coach and has the record to prove it, took the team to the finals.


Wada y’know, Essenson are off the hook, James returns, then they’re back on the hook again, in Geneva this time. His sheer relief this week, to be finally out of it, would be immeasurable. Perhaps he went home, played with the kids, enjoyed their innocence and love and, after they were in bed, took a bottle of good sauv blanc into the backyard and sat beneath the broad sky thinking about how his coaching career had sunk into a steaming, stinking trough of crap, unmatched in Australian Football. As brilliant as his playing career was, the scion of Essendon royalty suffered a far more disastrous coaching career.


With any luck, we’ve seen the last of the ‘favourite son’ coaches It ain’t right for them or the clubs. Being a great driver doesn’t make you a great mechanic.


Cheers 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. Are you sure about Carlton Earl? Lachie seems to have chirped up and been told that isn’t gunna fly…

  2. Earl O'Neill says

    Greetings Gus
    Carlton’s offence was front office chicanery. They didn’t dope the players. Essendon have a better list than Carlton now but that could change quickly. Those whom the gods would destroy first build state of the art stadia.

  3. Nicely put Earl. What are you thinking for the soundtrack to the Hird bioepic?
    “Stand by your Man”? I can see Tanya doing that and a “These Boots are Made for Walking – are you ready boots?” bump and grind climax to the movies. No need for Tammy and Nancy wigs – saves on props.
    “When the Drugs don’t work”?
    Do you think Roger Miller’s estate would let us me modify slightly the words to “Dang me; why don’t you a rope and hang me; hang me from the highest tree….ee…………………..”
    “Dank me; thank me; why Shane Charter sank me………………..”

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