The Mirror Has Two Faces … But the coin the wilfully blind are flipping tells a different tale.

Call for heads all you like. People have to realise there is another part of the tale here, the first part of which is now being introduced in Federal Court.

I’m not splitting the atom here, when I tell you that the authors of various caustic commentaries on the Federal Court action, undertaken by Essendon in general and the testimony presented under oath by James Hird in particular, are pursuing an agenda.

I’m not revealing a Nobel Prize winning discovery when I make clear the double-standards they are pursuing with the false equivalencies they draw.

All’s fair in the name of narrative control and ritual scalp taking, no?

Take for example the cleverly designed latest headache inducing sutra.

The deliberately mind-numbing litany, effective in the way of the modern multimedia because of its pervasiveness, rather than any inherent substance or logical rigour, is that James Hird is plumbing new depths of selfishness. Opening supposedly wider gulfs between himself and the club he is contracted to coach after his suspension ends, August 23.

Because he is telling the truth under direct questioning under oath?

‘The truth as he sees it,’ they say.

Because he is actually following through on what he promised throughout last year. Of course that was before the AFL’s long favoured coersive M.O came crashing down, thanks to the unsupportable by common law sheltered-workshop that is the AFL Competition.

‘The governance issues that were punished are well within the ambit of the AFL’s authority,’ they say.

All eleven other clubs identified as having ‘suspect supplements practices’ by the organisation’s own internal review remain miraculously unscathed.

Scapegoat much?

Yes, questionable governance practices led to egregious resultant behaviour. This from unscrupulous individuals, emboldened by the lack of oversight and dangerous absence of a controlling, continually vigilant overarching authority in the club hierarchy.

Yes, punishment was deserved.

There was a clear opportunity to mete out said punishment through a rigorous, unimpeachable process.

Instead we got a unilateral co-opting of what should have been an independent investigation. Through what has now – under oath – been revealed as standover tactics commensurate with a thuggish application of the absolute power the AFL unquestionably wields.

We knew that already, I agree. But now the sworn evidence let’s us see it through James Hird’s eyes.

In order to reinforce the process, the previous Essendon Football Club Administration unilaterally acquiesced to, was not only inappropriate but without legal standing, as a result of how it was initiated, implemented, interrupted and pre-empted.

The whole point of being civilized is enacting rules, which we then follow.

The aim of this court action from the current Essendon Football Club Administration is to, at the very least, ensure any subsequent investigation does so. That they afford their members every protection they are entitled to under those rules. That all evidence collected is done so subject to those rules.

James Hird’s supposedly selfish evidence is a clear illustration of how, originally that was not done … In the name of an incestuous desire to tow the company line, under improper threats of heavy reprisals.

All as a result of an unchecked AFL hierarchy running rampant because they can, instead of doing what they must to ensure a comprehensive, rigorously examinable process is enacted, in order for the results to be clear and unencumbered by the weight of perceived prejudice.

Does that sound at all familiar?

To the voices of the blind leading the blind in the aforementioned mind-numbing litany?

Apparently not.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Well said Gregor.

  2. Hird took a plea bargain. For a year he had the young men/boys under his control (and if you’re talking coercion and inducements, imagine the Jamestown at EFC under King James. How impossible for a nineteen-year-old to stand up to the man at whose feet the club officials routinely and banally abase themselves and ask, “What’s this stuff again?”) injected with substances for which no record exists at the club. For this he plea-bargained his way to a year on the Riviera. In exile he stewed Napoleonically and decided to spit the dummy in the manner of that potbellied Corsican egomaniac.
    Nobody feels good after a plea-bargain. They’re a form of compromise, a treaty. You weigh the odds and make your decision. James didn’t like the look of muscled-up justice coming at him, so he bought it off. Perhaps Tania should have said to him, ‘James you won’t feel good after this. But do you want to get Life?’ If he didn’t want to take the plea bargain he should have gambled in the courts. Predictably, he wants both… the plea bargain and, now, a year spent among the lavender hedges, the court case. (Though, admittedly, the word “bargain” is inadvisably used in his case.) He would probably have been thrown out of the game permanently if he’d taken them on. A more just result, I believe, but one that Demetriou and Co realised could have brought down the finals. They are paid to protect the game. They bargained. They protected the game.
    Why has James not criticised Dank for not coming forward and clearing everyone involved of any wrongdoing, which he can presumably do at any moment by laying his records on the table? Why have they not slated him for letting them all swing in the wind for two years? Why, through all this, has there been no censure of Dank by anyone at Essendon? Because they’re deathly scared to rile the man. Because if he kicks back he kicks the house down.

  3. The AFL has not been quite as full as usual of the usual entitlement-addled hot air when dealing with the Dankmeister either.

    Could be that is one matter on which the AFL and Essendon are absolutely on the same page. And both have stocked up on hard-hats just in case.

  4. Gregor

    Firstly, welcome. I liked your stuff on Backpagelead.

    As someone who has used the word selfish in relation to Hird, in particular his Fed Court testimony. I stand by it. I do however agree that what has been exposed was what we suspected and what I think the EFC/Hird intention all along was, to expose the AFL as being heavily complicit in all of this.

    I don’t necessarily see it as inappropriate that the AFL took a strong interest in what was going on, but they have been clearly clumsy. I think they are so used to running the comp and manufacturing outcomes that they failed to see that a Govt appointed body and the serious issue of drugs in sport should have meant they kept their distance.

    (And what the sports minister’s people were doing so close is beyond me.)

    However, again, I believe Hird used his moment not to push the case that there is a legal issue of whether the parties could operate together, but to have a platform to say that firstly he never thought the actions of his superiors were right (and he feels vindicated enough to shout that out) and second, he was a mere small player in all this, just a coach, and all this policitcal stuff was not his realm.

    Spare me James, your power at EFC was absolute, and you either knew what was happening to the players and supported it, or didn’t and if so, why not.

    I think clearly that this was all long term positioning by him. Bravo to him maybe, he used the Federal Court and tens of thousands of dollars to crap on his club, friends and others to protect his reputation. Not many of us have that ability to get a platform to justify ourselves.

    Yes, the lawyer asked him questions that he wanted, and he got to answer. Yes, the AFL is exposed as being a bully and should be embarassed. Yes, there was a manufactured outcome last year to suit the AFL finals.

    But his behaviour reeks of selfishness, and I don’t believe the welfare of the players and the core issue of what was injected into them is on his mind at all


  5. Gregor Lewis says

    Some kind words. Some interesting comments.

    One staggeringly myopic display of unadulterated agenda-peddling.

    First my thanks to Luke for his kind compliment on my argument presentation.

    My thanks also to Sean for the kind words, warm welcome and thoroughly intelligent engagement. More on that soon.

    Rick N & ‘ajc’ have arrived at a similar thought – if presented rather less vehemently in Rick’s case – which I find extremely fascinating myself. But again more on Dank soon.

    First an apology.

    Sean, I apologise if you felt you were being attacked. I wrote the above long before I saw, and even longer before I read your piece. Bluntly put, after reading the headline, I was manifestly uninterested in reading ‘more of the same’ commentary which had moved me to write my piece in the first place.

    Having now read what you wrote & your comment above, I realise my mistake. While you do use the word selfish, I don’t see the same ‘Malvolian Riddle’ hanging with ominous intent, behind your genuinely presented words.

    I can’t say the same for others I had the misfortune of hearing & reading on more mainstream outlets.

    But I do disagree.

    What Hird said was the only thing he could say, in the only arena he could safely say it.

    As I wrote above, this move by Essendon is but the first part of a much larger Act. Hird’s evidence, the introduction of what should have happened after February 6, 2013.

    Until this case started, I believe everything that Essendon did was wrong. Starting with hiring Dank in the first place. Continuing with improper documentation & oversight of a seemingly fervent attempt at establishing mould-breaking revolutionary best-practice, in the ‘at-the-time’ rampant field of ‘sports-science’ within the AFL.

    Further continuing, with what IMO appears to be a wholly disingenuous attempt at establishing plausible deniability – Hird’s bullet point email listing clearly his expectations of the supplements program.

    Hitting the nadir of then placing inordinate trust in a known, edge-trolling chemical enhancement megalomaniac like Dank, with what seems to me to be a complete absence of proper clerical & documentary procedure, much less logical good-sense record keeping.

    As I said above. These things merit punishment. But not the way it was arrived at. Essendon did things the way they did them, because the people acting felt they could.

    Instead of learning from that, the AFL served up their own version of same (don’t get me started on the govt. involvement, but suffice it to say, the previous mob fairly reeked of the rank ineptitude of doing things they felt they had to, after their incompetence painted them into corners littered with their previous ‘political-waste’ soaked newspapers).

    We had the AFL hierarchy involving themselves because they felt they could. And the improprieties James Hird started to lift the lid on, began as a result of previous Chairman David Evans mistakenly choosing not to resist.

    I think Hird rather unselfishly participated in a process that he knew then & we know now, was heavily pre-determined.

    Improperly so.

    It’s almost two years too late, but finally we have reached a stage where what should have happened in the beginning – an independent, time-unfettered, intentionality-free investigation, that can invite AND coerce all relevant parties to participate – is on the cusp of being initiated.

    Maybe some geniuses I’ve had the misfortune of reading – both recently & throughout this saga – think I’m being naïve (or other less complimentary things). Maybe you do too Sean.

    But my view has always been, no matter what I think I know, the court of public opinion is not a place I will ever trust, to learn the whole truth of where the facts in this saga lie.

    Which brings us to Mr. Dank.

    Oh, the conspiracies! EFC & AFL both afraid of the BIG BAD DANK!

    This after we kept getting told about ASADA’s new coersive powers, through most of last year.

    One way or another, both the AFL & Hird will still be around when Dank is brought to answer before the courts, the Federal Court he himself has invoked so often even.

    So all this prospective fearmongering is moot.

    Or, if I can be a little more dismissive.

    In the words of that great philosopher of contemporary history, Joey Tribbianni, ‘It’s ALL MOO! A cow’s opinion … It doesn’t matter.’

    Am I crazy, or did some of that actually make sense?


  6. Yes and no, as they say.

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Gregor you have argued and reasoned we’ll but from my information gathered I firmly believe that , Hird was the main person in what ever it takes , what this court case has revealed is 2 incompetent organizations in the heavy handed , Afl and the ,
    Essendon FC in which the only winners are the lawyers .

  8. Gregor

    Absolutely no offence taken by me, didn’t feel attacked and welcome the debate. There’s been I agree a lot of mindless hysteria in all this saga, with Hird either the devil incarnate or Prince Charming depending on whom you read and from which outlet.

    So an alternative, well considered and rational approach is good to see, even if I may not agree with everything. But’s that’s healthy, and nicer than the name calling that can happen when you take a side.

    I don’t think you are any more niave than I am, in that I’d like to think this is about figuring out what was injected into the arms of 34 unsuspecting and trusting young players over two years ago.

    I strongly agree with you in relation to what thsi has exposed about the AFL and had Andy D not gone, this woudl have really sped him up out the door. (Stagerring that a place that needs constant vigilance and governance, Crown, now have him on their Board)

    Keep writing Gregor, it makes sense


  9. Gregor Lewis says

    -ajc – Heh !
    Walked into that one full chested didn’t I, eh?
    Oh well, I asked for it … As they say.

    – Malcolm, I appreciate your reasoning, and I don’t disagree wholly re the Hird impetus. I just don’t know enough to be sure of how involved, uninvolved or deliberately aloof Hird became from the minutae.

    That’s something I was hoping to learn after the interim report last year.

    Still Waiting.

    Agree Sean, the ‘what’ was injected is the most important information … As much a victim of The AFL hierarchy’s desire to pre-empt as Essendon’s record-keeping contempt.

    But the out of control process has to be corrected first, to reach a point where Dank is compelled to testify and Robinson is either vindicated or exposed as a liar.

    Same with Hird.

    That can only happen under oath, as things stand. Not through sweeping generalisations informed in the mainstream media by towering egos and biased opinion.


  10. The People's Elbow says

    My chips are in with ajc on this one…

    However I expect we’re still some way away from a resolution.

    As Norman Mailer once said – “ego-bastards last long in a war”.

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