Decision making – AFL style. Nothing makes sense.

There are no ifs or buts about it. This is a disgraceful on the run decision made for no legimiate reason.

The AFL announced yesterday that the Sydney Swans would be banned from trading players into the club unless they forfeited their COLA now, as opposed to 2017 when it will be phased out.


Well that’s a good question.

No body knows.

The AFL didn’t provide anything resembling a reason.

Had the Swans cheated the salary cap? Was their draft tampering? An ASADA investigation perhaps?

No. Nothing. Zilch.

Basically, the Sydney Swans have been punished because they followed the AFL’s rules. That’s right. The Swans may have supported the COLA, but it was an AFL directive. The AFL has punished the Swans because they’ve been good at what they do. They’ve punished the Swans because a few bigwigs with growing stomachs and receding hairlines have been complaining about it. Short of an actual reason from the AFL that is the only conclusion that one can arrive at.

I hesitate to mention his name but one Edward from Collingwood is at the heart of this. He complained about Brisbane and now it was Syndey. I wonder, will he complain about Hawthorn recruiting James Frawley after BACK-TO-BACK premierships? Will the media run the story filled with anonymous quotes from other club chairman’s describing it as a ‘joke’. Probably not.

This isn’t about the COLA anymore. The AFL is right to remove it. The public couldn’t understand why somebody like Lance Franklin or Kurt Tippet would need 9.8% on top of the considerable amount they were earning. That argument made sense, and despite Sydney’s repeated claims of its necessity, the AFL announced its removal in 2017.

This is what makes Thursday’s announcement all the more confusing. If the AFL wanted the COLA gone immediately, why not do so. Why disadvantage the club?

Why punish them for lean recruiting. Yes they recruited Lance Franklin but whom did they lose in the process? Jude Bolton, Shane Mumford, Jed Lamb, Andrejs Everitt, Tony Armstrong & Martin Mattner. The AFL should be aware of this.

It’s another incomprehensible decision from an AFL commission who don’t seem able to make decisions unless they are incomprehensible. Most infamously in 2013 when Melbourne were investigated for tanking, they were fined half a million dollars, but they AFL was adamant they didn’t cheat. Did I mention, they didn’t bother defining tanking?

In the past when the AFL made decisions like these, Andrew Demetriou was blamed. He isn’t there anymore. The Commission has become too bureaucratic. There isn’t enough transparency. Not enough explanation. They’ve become a political party in Government, only there are not elections. The AFL should heed the lessons of history. The VFL was a breakaway competition of clubs unhappy with the VFA. If the public is unsatisfied, they will find something else.

James Hird Must Go and Everyone Knows It

The football public knows, and has known now for a long time, that James Hird cannot continue as coach of the Essendon Football Club. Yet on Sunday night the board released a statement declaring Hird remains the coach of the club.
Why, when it is so clear to the average punter that Hird has to go, has the club dug its heels deep into the ground?
The issue is complex no doubt.
ASADA and the Federal Government deserve blame for this. They are the ones who created this highly emotional and difficult atmosphere. Their press conference in February last year was exaggerated, melodramatic and ultimately counterproductive.
The public expected grand revelations of cheating. The reality was slightly tamer, but no less serious.
Essendon ran a supplements programme. Its own internal investigation was highly critical of the programme ran. It was poorly documented, poorly organised, and poorly monitored.
The players have been placed in the intolerable position of facing bans by ASADA. More seriously, the club is not in a position to clarify exactly what it is the players took. Forget about the legality, was it safe?
If the first role of a coach is to achieve success for their football club, their second is to protect their players. On this count Hird and the Essendon Football Club have failed miserably. The club’s duty of care to its players has been fundamentally breached. The CEO is gone, the chairman is gone, and the coach must now go.
By continuing to fight on, Hird has allowed his once ‘golden boy’ reputation to be destroyed. The football public now sees him as selfish, unwilling to acknowledge his mistakes, or offer an apology. Perhaps had he offered these concessions from the start, we would be more forgiving.
He, and for the most part Essendon, have behaved as if this all a grand conspiracy against them. As if the AFL managed to convince ASADA and the Federal Government to launch this inquiry simply in order to remove Hird from his position as coach.
It is irrational, illogical and wrong.
Even when Essendon challenged the legality of the investigation, the court found against them. Hird is challenging, claiming that it is in the best interests of the club and the players. One has to wonder how it is?
In the NRL, Cronulla cooperated to a greater extent than Essendon and the investigation is over. The players missed three games. It was a joke that angered the footballing public, but it was great for the players. Shane Flanagan is on the verge of being returned to his position as coach. That is what Essendon should be working towards.
But it continues to drag on.
It has cost Essendon millions. Fines, pay-outs, legal fees. A weaker club would have been destroyed by it.
The club has to move on from this. Mark Thompson is the man to take them there. He is a two-time premiership winning coach who has re-discovered his passion for coaching. They have a playing group that should be pushing for a top-four finish. But their last two seasons have essentially been wasted by this ASADA investigation.
They have to move on, the AFL wants to move on, and so do the other clubs.
So how is it that James Hird remains the coach of Essendon when he so obviously shouldn’t be?

Eddie vs Priddy

In the war of attrition between football clubs, the fight off the field is just as important, if not more, than the fight on it. Middle-aged men with receding hairlines and growing stomachs explode onto our screens and radios from time to time and remind us of this never ending war. Sometimes we forget its existence, our focus is on the football, but sometimes the football isn’t all that exciting compared to an all in administrative brawl. It’s not the same as an on-field brawl of course, no punches are thrown….hang on.

This week’s off-field brawl is between Collingwood President Eddie ‘Everywhere’ McGuire and Sydney Swans President Andrew ‘Is this thing on?’ Pridham. It all started in a rather ‘petty’ way you can say. Sydney coach John Longmire rejected an offer to be assistant coach of the International Rules team later this year because he didn’t want to work with McGuire, the team manager. McGuire thought it was all rather ‘petty’ and said he has put aside personal interest for the national team, so should John.

Well Sydney President Pridham didn’t let that one pass.

“It is a crazy world when Eddie McGuire is not content with just running the AFL, he’s now protecting our national interest. I can’t help but see a comparison between Eddie’s patriotism and protection of the national interest and the fact Clive Palmer is currently dominating the political agenda in Australia. I’ll leave you with that to think about.”

The Clive Palmer analogy is rather hilarious. It might the funniest thing said by any club President since Jeff Kennett promised no-body would hear from him as President. Andrew Pridham had made his point and found himself in the limelight. Eddie seethed and returned serve as only Eddie could…with utter rubbish.

“They have wound up Caroline Wilson to start running this campaign that I am the most powerful bloke in football and have too much to say and all the rest of it. I haven’t been powerful enough otherwise we may not be where we should be at the moment.”

It’s all a grand conspiracy you see.

“They are the greatest protectors of their self interest of any organisation God has put breath into,”

Let’s pause and reflect on that comment for a moment. Eddie McGuire is complaining about an organisation protecting itself self-interest. Oh the hypocrisy!

“These blokes haven’t developed anything up there … that’s why Jarrod Witts is playing first ruck for Collingwood, that’s why Lenny Hayes has been a superstar down at St Kilda.”

Errr……Jarrad McVeigh, Brandon Jack, Kieran Jack, Lewis Roberts Thompson, Harry Cunnigham, Craig Bird, Dane Rampe. All NSW developed players, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story.

“They have let blokes march out of the joint because they have had no interest ’cause they open the chequebook up and go after everyone. They have been doing it since Gerard Healy went up there.”

He’s right Sydney have signed some real big names in the past 25 years. Craig Bolton, Martin Mattner, Ben McGlynn, Nick Davis, Josh Kennedy, all household names before they came to Sydney! HA!! 

Another unfinished chapter in the never ending Off-Field brawling chronicles. May they never end! .