Thumbs up to Hird

Some 7 or 8 weeks ago during the Knight’s saga I had a dream/idea, Sir James Hird would take over the reins at The Dons with Bomber Thompson as his co-coach.  When I mentioned this to some of my mates they dismissed the idea as the disillusioned rantings of a tragic Don.  As if Hird would turn down a lucrative media and sporting business to coach I was told, and as for Bomber Thompson leaving Geelong , it was suggested I have a cup if tea, a bex and a good lay down. Well I’m not one to boast but at least I’ve got 50% of my dream and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Bomber could join up before season 2011 starts.

I am absolutely delighted that Jimmy Hird will be taking over the job at the Dons . I am old enough to remember his grandfather, captain/coach of the Essendon seconds in the late 1940’s. Many years later while teaching in a small rural school in Gippsland, the local District Inspector brought  Allan Hird to my school. I think he was Assistant Director of the Education Department at the time and when I saw this tall, very serious looking person arriving with our local Inspector I wasn’t sure how to feel. The education side of me was in a state of  “slight” panic, the sporting side of me was rapt. After pleasant welcomes were completed, Mr Hird was very interested with what I was doing with the kids and thoroughly looked at all the programmes we had planned and completed. After what I thought was a reasonable time I mentioned to Mr Hird that I was a long time Essendon supporter and I had seen him playing with the seconds. He very quickly changed the conversation back to Education and naturally so did I !!!!!!!

There is no doubt that his grandson is well suited to coaching Essendon, I believe he has coached Prahran under 9’s with distinction. It doesn’t worry me he hasn’t coached at a senior level, Sheeds came over to the Dons with great success and he hadn’t coached before. As for all those other names mentioned who have failed as first time coaches, may I say as a supreme Essendon optimist none were named James Hird.

I was a bit of a fence sitter when it came to Knights and his future at the club.  I was disappointed by some of the antics of Essendon supporters during the season, the way they shouted their obscenities  at the players and coaching staff. To a person, they must have all been fantastic footballers in the earlier years. I reckon the Essendon board handled the Knights affair very badly, almost as badly as they handled the sacking of Sheeds. I thought Knights did as well as he could have with the playing list, some of the selections during the year were perplexing to say the least. Whatever happened to Houli,Atkinson,Jetta etc. at the selection table.  The players seemed unable to hold the skill level demanded by Knights for the duration of the game. At times it was great but when things got tight they crumbled and reverted to defensive play and the mistakes multiplied. Hand passing to opponents, turn overs and very poor kicking became the order of the day. There is no doubt  Essendon players today are fitter than ever before and their endurance is remarkable, but you have to wonder about how their kicking, hand passing  and tackling skills match up. I reckon more emphasis on these parts of the game wouldn’t go amiss. When you compare the skills of the top teams in  these areas, Essendon is a fair way behind.  I’m sure the coaching will do something about it.

So roll on 2011, I’ll sign up again and continue the family history of  120 years of barracking for the mighty Dons.

Rod Oaten


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    I can’t help but agree Rod. Like you I have a connection and feel confident about Hird. Essendons biggest problem was keeping Sheedy too long. I wanted Knights to do well. Perhaps the mistakes made in the last cuple of yeras will help galvanise the club now. I agree with Dennis Pagan about James not needing the experienced older coaches around him. Let him do it his way.

  2. Clearsighted says

    The Essendon Football Club’s long history of dubious business dealings are far from “Spotless” – just ask David Evans.

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