The Essendon Elephants

We have all just about heard enough of the Essendon fiasco and I am very hopeful that with the verdict being made public, the whole issue can ride off into the sunset as what could be a classic finals series approaches. However, at the risk of stringing out an already painfully long process, I wish to acknowledge one simple fact everyone is overlooking.

And dare I say it, there is a pretty embarrassing elephant sitting in at least one of the interrogation rooms at AFL house.

Essendon were embarrassingly bad last year.

Clearly they got a flier on the competition and the 10-3 record at the halfway mark was looking pretty imposing. But from there they were an absolute rabble, turning in a Melbourne-esque return of one more win out of the next nine games to stagger into 11th place.

All the while they were allegedly being injected with anything those mad scientists could get their hands on. Lotions and potions to make you grow bigger and stronger, run quicker, heal faster, look younger, kick further and evidently spontaneously combust.

This brings to me to a philosophical question that I am still grappling with.

Is it really cheating if it doesn’t really work?

About Shane Kennedy

An Eagles supporter living near Geelong. Thankful the Cats have tasted recent success as it means supporters forget '92/'94. My footy intake is restricted to Channel 7 (with no wide screen) and ABC radio. I may not know the score, quarter or time remaining, but I know I hate Brian Taylor's commentary on Saturday nights.


  1. Cheryl Critchley says

    Yes of course it is. We still don’t know if Essendon cheated per se, but it is clear that the club has let its players and fans down on so many levels. The whole thing is really disappointing and hopefully serves as a warning to other clubs who want to skate close to the wind.

  2. Point taken Shane. But say someone breaks into your house. They smash down the front door, empty the fridge, scrawl all over the walls, but get disturbed and flee before they can steal anything. Is it really burglary?

  3. Shane Kennedy says

    @Cheryl, to me it is a clear warning that “the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse.” Especially when you consider the other club that has been linked to this is Melbourne.

    @Wrapster, nice counter point. It may not be burglary, but it clearly would have tarnished the reputation and “brand” of my abode.

  4. Is it cheating if you get a year’s extension on your contract as a result of a 12 month ban for overseeing a program of injecting players with who-the-f***-knows gets, as well as cheers from the supporters of a club you have just razed to the ground and just stopped short of sprinkling with salt?

    Or is it just hideous governance and culture?

  5. Andrew Fithall says

    In extending Hird’s contract, the Essendon Board have made an irrational emotional decision. Another mistake that will prolong the pain and a decision they will regret. In a normal workplace, Hird would be gone.

  6. Neil Anderson says

    I’m just pissed off that my team could be beaten by a team in the last eighteen months that allegedly injected God knows what to gain an edge.
    A big powerful rich club that resorted to this so they could further stomp on poorer, rebuilding clubs.
    The Essendon motto before they tore it down summed up their arrogance. “Whatever it takes”.

  7. On Hird getting an extension, I’m all the [email protected]#* for it. For me that’s a worse penalty than everything else combined. Hell. give him another 5 years at Windy Hill to wreck the culture even more. Essendon and the fans who follow the cult of Hird so blindly, deserve him.

  8. The bile directed at Carline Wilson by Bombers fans is disturbing. In the tradition of Pantos I say to them “Behind you!”
    “Blind faith in your leaders, or anything, will get you killed.”
    Bruce Springsteen

  9. ABC-TV’s 24 hour news station did not televise its usual Tuesday 9pm program The World on 27 August due to the media conference with Essendon chairman Paul Little.

    As Little answered and parried questions, the screen regularly showed a message, ‘The World will not be screened tonight due to coverage of the Essendon supplements scandal.’

    The message put into a different context a relatively famous song by the late jazz-poet/rap-pioneer Gil Scott-Heron, ‘The revolution will not be televised.’

  10. “This is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end; but it is the end of the beginning.” The AFL has done all it could given the highly suggestive, but in the end largely circumstantial evidence TO DATE. ASADA have not finished by a long shot, and as the even grubbier Cronulla case becomes public, the media and the NRL will ensure that ASADA charges are laid against Essendon players – with all the flow on consequences for the club and the AFL. ASADA will force Dank to testify as part of the more serious Cronulla case and he will drag the whole edifice down with him. He is not going down without taking others down with him.
    Anyone who has been involved in a serious legal matter will know that the process of investigation; laying charges and trial takes 3-5 years not the instant justice we are used to in sport.
    “The dogs are barking, but the legal caravan edges inexorably onward.”

  11. David Zampatti says

    There’s going to be some deliciously revealing quotes come out of all this. My favourite so far was from the McGuire, during his bizarre and corrupt stand-in gig on AFL 360 the night before last. Eddie said the AFL needed to be careful not to go too hard at Essendon because “we can’t afford big clubs becoming small clubs”.

    Now, listen in Footscray supporters, North Melbourne supporters, St Kilda supporters, Melbourne supporters, supporters of “interstate” clubs. Who exactly are “we”, Eddie? The big clubs? Your club?? The logical corollary, of course, is that “we” can’t afford small clubs becoming big clubs. Why and how is that Eddie?

    Because small clubs need more oxygen to become big, and big clubs can demand more. More Friday night games, more stand alone games, more column inches and broadcast time.

    So let’s start with the ANZAC Day game. Surely it’s inappropriate for Essendon, having been convicted of bringing the game into disrepute, its coach suspended, its access to the draft limited (albeit not by so much that they risk becoming, shudder, “small”), its players likely still under investigation from ant-doping bodies, to play in, and benefit from, this event that purports to link the claimed values of football to those ascribed to the diggers.

    Maybe it should be played between the previous year’s grand finalists. Even the two top Victorian teams from the previous season (assuming The Len Hall Game in the West and other interstate ANZAC Day games are scheduled and promoted).

    It’s these sort of things that will make big clubs a little smaller, and give small clubs a shot at being bigger. And even if Eddie can’t afford that, “we” can.

  12. I’m interested in all this good bloke football commentary on TV mostly that says “of course, no one is accusiing them of being drug cheats”

    What is it about the spectre of banned performance enhancing drugs being given to players that isn’t drug cheating.

    I’ll take Shane’s point further: if you took a drug that was banned but you didn’t know you took it, are you a cheat?

    Well, if you broke the rules, you cheated. The glaring point that remains of this saga, (and it isn’t over), is what were the players given. If we discover they were given banned substances, all the AFL rules and feeling from EFC that this is over is rubbish. WADA should and will come down on the players, who cannot say not their fault.

    There are mitigating circumstances sure, but WADA says that you are responsible for what goes in your body, and if the players didn’t check enough, they could be gone.

    If even one person at EFC administered drugs that were banned to a player, they are drug cheats, pure and simple.


  13. David

    Taking ANZAC day game off Essendon? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Brilliant. If the AFL have any balls that’s how they can really [email protected]$* Essendon over for all the grief they’ve caused. Also take the dreamtime game off em as well. As for Eddies concerns? Just like his thoughts on everything else, we could do without them.

  14. Neil Anderson says

    The representative of the big-club’s association Eddie Mc Everywhere was hard to take as he strained to keep the smile off his face as the Essendon news came through.
    Trying to be nice and considerate to one of his rival clubs was a performance that would have put DeNiro in the shade.
    My greatest disappointment was that Bob Murphy was bumped from 360 so we could see Eddie’s encore performance.

  15. Here’s a thought. Afl expands internationally. Cape Town cheetahs found to be being administered peptides etc. wonder if media/punters would b so concerned about “player welfare” & “intent” or more ready to reconsider spelling of team mascot?

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