Wrap Wrath: Heave Ho, Way To Go Freo

Far be it for us to offer comment outside our normal allotment of your precious time, but the recent tsunami of pontification has drawn us early from our cave Wrappers.

Last night, for the first time in the history of television broadcasting, the half time entertainment outrated the match.  It even outrated Helen D’Amico’s famous run from half back to half forward.

For those who came in late – Ross Lyon has resigned as St Kilda Coach and accepted the vacant coaching position offered to him by the legally appointed management committee of the Fremantle Football Club (Inc).  Because it was carried out with a military precision worthy of Napoleon it caught some high profile AFL dramatis personae off guard, and immediately assumed the status of the Dreyfus Affair.  Now read on.

Let’s get a few things in perspective here, and Scotty, we’re not going to pull any punches.  Firstly, let’s deal with Freo’s decision to sack their coach.  What has Harvey achieved this season?  Never mind the injuries.  Look at Hawthorn.  The Kokoda Kids took horrendous losses early in the season – Roughie, Stanton, Gilham – that’s half your spine laid out on the operating table – and long periods without Buddy and Rioli.  Hodge has carried injuries all season yet The Hawks only dropped four and emphatically brought themselves back from the grave on Friday night.  Harvey’s mob drifted back to Flaky Freo during the season and dogged it over the last seven matches.  Yes, dogged it.  After failing in the Western Derby, as they call it over there, they didn’t get within five goals of the opposition in the remaining six matches and twice barely avoided 100 point drubbings.  Their wayward star Michael Johnson was playing with a bourbon and coke gut, their Rising Star of two years ago left beautiful Perth to go and live in Penrith, and Harvey himself made up 25% of Mick Molloy’s repertoire.  No wonder he got the chop.  Not only had he lost the players, he was an embarrassment.

What were Freo supposed to do?  Waste another year being the butt of everyone’s humour while the Flakey Freo tag became synonymous with Incompetent Administration?  They would have become morally insolvent – and they can put you in gaol for that.  No, like Rossy Lyon, the Fremantle Administration can hold its head high and look everyone straight in the eye.

And who are they looking in the eye here?  Who has it brought out of the woodwork?  Let’s start with Craig Kelly of ESP, who would have given his 1990 Carringbush Premiership Jumper for some extra sensory perception in this case.  Rossy Lyon said he had to act alone because of the clear conflict of interests.  Kelly – who as a barrel-chested full back was renowned for pinching full forwards to get them off their game – managed both coaches.

He went on to say it was “not the way business should be done“.  Our Macquarie Concise Dictionary gives the definition of business as the purchase and sale of goods and services in an attempt to make a profit.  I’d say Rossy Lyon has made a tidy profit selling his services, and that Freo will be very satisfied with their purchase.  They’ve already got a million dollars worth of credibility and respect from the transaction.  But if you’re not happy with it all Craig – sue.  That’s what lawyers are for.  (Is that what they’re for?  I thought they were there to clean up the mess after the catfish – Ed)

Then there’s our old mate O’Spud.  Ex Richmond coach and now Prez of the AFL Coaches Association.  O’Spud said Harvey had coached well this year and “regardless of contract payouts, coaches simply want to be given the opportunity to complete their tenure” – in this case a two-year contract extension agreed upon only 12 months ago.  Danny my lad, spoken like a true boyo.  You’d be a walk up start for Michael Williamson’s job at the HSU on that performance.  That’s if he ever gets the sack.

Who else was there?  Oh that’s right – Kevin Bloody Sheedy.  What did you have to say from way up there in the Shadows of the Blue Mountains Kevin? “Like coming out of a war zone and being shot by one of your own“.   Thanks for your contribution Kevin – you ace hypocrite.  Having your rising stars poached by some platitude-mumbling parasite on the public purse is what it’s like coming out of a war zone and being shot by one of your own.

And if he’s such a magnificent young coach, why don’t you give him your job?  I’m sure Mick Molloy would pay half what he’s worth just to keep him on the books.

But the coupe de grâce of your threadbare believability Sheeds had to be this one “I really hope Fremantle doesn’t become like one of those Melbourne clubs that gets that desperate to win a premiership that they tear the heart and soul out of the club”.  Words don’t fail me Kevin.  None are needed.

Then there was Andrew Demetriou who has rushed to the parapets to pour burning scorn on the actions.  Well Andreas, while you’ve got your head above the parapets, let’s see what you’ve said.

On 3AW the other day you said, “I feel desperately for Mark Harvey.  He’s an individual with a family, children and thinking about his welfare”.  Why would you feel desperately for him Andrew?  He’s getting paid half a mill for doing nothing for 12 months, and he gets that time to spend with his family and children.  Sure his reputation has been damaged.  But he did that all by himself.  Look at his record.  And if you feel so badly, how much of your $2m plus have you put in the hat to tide him over?

Then you went on to say (It) “Reeks of hypocrisy” for a coach to ask players for commitment then walk away from a club.  That’s rich, that is.  How much commitment did the St Kilda Players give their coach?  The shenanigans that went down at The Culture Club pre-season.  The only shame to be borne here is that Rossy Lyon didn’t dump the St Kilda Football Club right there and then.

I’m not privy to all of the inside discussions re Ross Lyon, but I think we can probably read something into what Craig Kelly did in terminating their agreement”.  Thank you Andrew.  We already have.

Then the head quickly slipped below the parapets.  “If coaches are asking players to commit and to play a certain way and asking them to sign up to certain values … you can understand and I’m using a generalisation here, not talking about anyone specifically but if all of a sudden if they don’t behave in the way that we’re asking them to behave, it sort of reeks of hypocrisy and people see through that.”  Of course you’re talking in generalisations here Andrew; you wouldn’t want Loophole, Mortimer & Sly knocking on your door with a bluey would you?

And, suddenly if they don’t behave in the way that we’re asking them to behave?  Shrink Kraponski would have a bit to say about that little Freudian slip Andrew.

“I think people are entitled to ask questions about issues of commitment and integrity”.  Yes, Andrew, people are entitled to ask questions about commitment and integrity. Let’s start with you.  What have you got to say for yourself about the way you responded to North Melbourne not taking the golden handshake you offered them to open a second SE Queensland Club?  What have you got to say for yourself about continually turning your back on a truly Tasmanian team?  What have you got to say for yourself for lifting your salary to more than $2m?  What have you got to say for yourself about your commitment, as CEO of the AFL, to the interests of the shareholders in the AFL – the clubs?  And what have you got to say about the hemorrhaging of AFL funds to prop up clubs no one asked to be created and no one wants in regions that wouldn’t give rat’s toss bag whether or not they had an AFL team being flogged once a fortnight down the road at the local oval?  They’re just some of the questions.

And what about the True Believers – where are they in all this?  The ones who keep the Light on the Hill burning?  After all, they are the owners of OUR GREAT GAME  – the Long Suffering Faithful, the Mums & Dads who organize the sausage sizzles at junior level, run the chook raffles, blow up the bouncy castles on trophy presentation day, nurse Little Jenny & Johnny’s bruised ego’s when their team misses out in the finals, or gets drubbed week in week out.  The kids in the duffle coats glittered with badges, who weave the run-throughs.  Who live from one season to the next on moments of promise and eons of character building.  Who keep the turnstiles turning and the cathode tube glowing.

Happily, we simple souls get on about our business and smile kindly at the frailties of our betters.

About John Mosig

I'm an Aussie Rules tragic who can remember, as a four year old, shaking the hand of Captain Blood in the rooms just before he ran out onto the ground after half time, as my Old Man slipped him a packet of under-the-counter Craven A cork tipped. Now it's my turn to take my grandson Ben through the ritual of character building that is the journey through PUNT ROAD to the outside world.