2020 AGM/Members Forum

I missed it. Did anyone watch? Any key themes or points to come out of it?

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I was planning on firing a pointed question this year, but got bloody stuck at work.

I didn’t watch but I’d guess that everyone who did watch had their strongly held beliefs about the club confirmed, regardless of what those beliefs are.


Couldnt get it to work and gave up. Someday my Shisha will come.

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Was ok actually.

Online was a good way to do it. Lots of questions from members.

Rutten was better again in answering questions.


Anything particularly enlightening to come of it?

Gee Tanner’s q&a article on the website Is typically uninspiring. Some pretty disappointing responses really but I’m not surprised.


Only thing that piqued my interest was Sheedy saying that one of the reasons that he wanted to join the Board was EFC not selecting Marlion Pickett. Implying it was blocked by Board.


id say the implication is direction, a more adventurous board and therefore executive wouldn’t have hesitated which is what we did.

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I didn’t think that was a secret

Q&A: Lindsay Tanner

Former President Lindsay Tanner reflects on his five years at the helm ahead of the 2020 AGM and Members Forum.

Former Essendon President Lindsay Tanner has reflected on his five years at the helm. (Photo: Essendon FC)

Lindsay Tanner’s time as Essendon President finished in October this year, after he announced in late 2019 that he would be stepping down from the role and handing the reins to Paul Brasher.

It ended a five-year reign at the helm for Tanner, who joined the Essendon Board in March 2015 before being appointed President in December that year.

Ahead of tonight’s 2020 AGM and Member Forum , Tanner caught up with essendonfc.com.au to reflect on a challenging and turbulent five years as Essendon President.

Lindsay, why have you chosen to call it a day now?

When I took over I indicated to fellow Board members that I saw it as a three-to-five-year role, with the obvious priority being recovery from the challenges of 2016. That recovery is now well and truly completed. The club is back to full health as an organisation. To my surprise, I have become one of Essendon’s longer-serving presidents. Most people who’ve held the role have served in the three-to-five-year range.

What would you see as the major achievements for the club over that period?

The long-running saga did enormous damage to the club, some of it quite obvious, but it also had some powerful indirect effects. With the commitment of passionate members, loyal sponsors and extremely generous business donors, we have restored the club’s finances much more quickly than I expected. That’s been crucial in the current coronavirus crisis. It is remarkable we’ve been able to avoid becoming an AFL-assisted club, unlike most clubs in the competition. The financial impact of the saga was enormous, but we have fought our way back to financial health very quickly.

Lindsay Tanner faces the media in January 2016 following the suspension of 34 Essendon players. (Photo: AFL Photos)

We have also almost completed the second stage of the NEC Hangar development, a very big project that will deliver huge benefits to the club for decades to come. We’ve modernised the club constitution, increased women’s representation on the Board, inaugurated our VFLW team that should evolve into an AFLW team in the near future, and ensured a sustained period of club stability; our Board and management are stable and battle-hardened. Most importantly, we have rebuilt trust in the playing and coaching ranks. We are back to being a ‘normal’ footy club, and living through some of the ups and downs that inevitably entails, and no longer swamped by the extreme tensions and distractions that a massive crisis brings.

What about disappointments?

Obviously I hoped to enjoy a final season very different from the way 2020 has panned out. The circumstances disadvantaged Victorian clubs, and it looks like we didn’t adapt as well as some clubs, so there are some very important lessons to be learned. Some mistakes were made, and I have no doubt that the thorough review Paul Brasher is driving will produce important outcomes that will help us refine our approach.

That said, we had one of our worst injury years for ages, and odd bits of bad luck like the postponement of the Melbourne game had a big effect on our playing group in the latter part of the season, with a sequence of short breaks and no respite. Injuries are now the key variable in the game; a team missing half its best side, as we were against the Saints for example, is unlikely to win no matter how good they are.

What have you made of the recent player departures?

Clearly very disappointing, but we need to keep a sense of perspective. The emergence of the national competition, expansion teams and free agency has turbo-charged player movement. Three of the four high-profile departures were partly driven by geographic factors - the desire to be outside Victoria - and we shouldn’t forget that the reason Adam Saad came to the Bombers in the first place was his desire to return to Victoria. There is no doubt some serious soul-searching is required, and that is underway, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the departures are only the first half of the story. We are yet to see what the ensuing draft picks and salary cap space will deliver to Essendon. I was devastated when we traded Glenn Hawker to Carlton in the late '80s, but I eventually worked out that his effective replacement was Michael Long, so I got over it.

Has the club put too much focus onto off-field recovery and neglected the football side of things?

I don’t believe so. We have seen what can happen when you don’t get governance right, and the enormous value when you do. Conor McKenna’s positive test could have almost wiped out our season, but because we had put in place absolutely rigorous distancing controls and record-keeping for the playing group, we were able to minimise the impact and continue.

The false dawns we’ve had on-field are frustrating. I’ve been a mad Essendon supporter for almost 60 years, so I’ve seen a few similar ups and downs. Who can ever forget eliminitis? I’ve lost count of the number of elimination final defeats I’ve seen, stretching back to the very first one in 1972 when we got thumped by the Saints.

The last few seasons have taken us straight back to where we were before the drugs issue; mid-table, sometimes squeezing into the bottom end of the eight. At one level that’s great; we regained reasonable on-field competitiveness almost immediately, which was certainly not guaranteed. I haven’t forgotten the second half of the 2015 season, where we had defeats by nearly 20 goals against the Saints and the Crows, and nearly 15 goals against the Bulldogs, plus thrashings from the Cats and the Eagles tend to stick in the mind. We’ve improved substantially since the dark days of 2015-16, but we are all desperate to take the next step.

I’m inspired by the rapid development of six or seven of our key younger players in extraordinarily challenging circumstances. We won’t be able to judge how important that is for a while, but I suspect it will be crucial. Most of the key players in our '80s premiership sides did their apprenticeship under Barry Davis in the late ‘70s. Most of the Eagles’ 2018 premiership side learned their football under John Worsfold. Unfortunately these things tend not to get noticed at the time. There are some changes we need to make, and of course we have a new senior coach in Ben Rutten taking over, but we need to keep the challenges in perspective.

John Worsfold has copped plenty of flak, and club great Matthew Lloyd said towards the end of the season that the club should have parted ways with John at the end of 2019. Do you think the criticisms are fair?

I note no-one was suggesting we should have sacked John when we were 5-2 earlier in the season. It’s not often a coach is sacked after making the finals either, particularly when you consider the on-field recovery from 2015-16 that John orchestrated. He has his deficiencies like we all do, but I think he has done an outstanding job rebuilding our club.

There are never any perfect options when clubs face decisions about coaching appointment. All choices involve serious risks and major unknowns, and it is really easy to criticise with the benefit of hindsight. There is no evidence that the things within our control that have gone wrong in 2020 have been driven by the coaching handover. In retrospect we are extremely fortunate we didn’t appoint a new, inexperienced coach at the end of 2019, given the uniquely challenging circumstances of 2020.

It has been suggested in sections of the media that you went AWOL as president during 2020. How do you respond to that?

You expect that sort of stuff in gossip columns. I’ve had decades of experience with worse stuff in the political realm. It’s nonsense obviously. It was not feasible for me to join the hub, and I would have been superfluous anyway. Unlike some clubs, we run a model where the CEO completely runs the club’s operations, and the board oversights the CEO and management. That has meant I leave things to our CEO which at some other clubs presidents get directly involved in.

Since the middle of the year, we have undertaken an extensive handover process with my successor Paul Brasher, who as my deputy was well-placed to start assuming some of the responsibilities of the President. And a lot of activities I would normally be involved in - dialogue with coterie groups, functions, game-day activities and the like - haven’t been happening because of virus restrictions.

What do you expect from 2021?

I’m still very optimistic, notwithstanding recent challenges, because I believe the fundamentals are sound. We are effectively building a new team. There are only a handful of players left who played for Essendon before I joined the Board in 2015, and that’s only five and a bit years ago. It takes a number of years to build a great team, and we are well advanced on that journey. Recent player departures are a setback, but the wheel turns very quickly in this business, and all the variables of player capability, commitment and resilience often surprise you.

I was absolutely crushed by the 1983 Grand Final humiliation. It felt like losing elimination finals, where we were condemned to spend the rest of football time suffering. But the dam burst in the last quarter of the 1984 Grand Final.

Finally, your favourite memory from your time as President?

My very first home game, which was round two in 2016 against the Demons. Everyone was tipping us to lose every game, and the feeling down on the boundary around the race when Darcy Parish sealed the win was unbelievable. The club had been to hell and back and yet we showed the football world the incredible strength and commitment that underpins the Essendon Football Club. It wasn’t quite like winning a premiership, but the feeling was almost as good.

Few things:
-Dodoro said Mozzie is contracted
-Stage 3 of Hangar includes coaches boxes, grandstand
-Dodoro said be happy to talk to Bruhn in two years if he wants to come to Essendon
-Dodoro said all recruits had exposed form as 17 years olds, intimating that club didn’t want to take risks on blokes who hadn’t played since age 16 (I guess Bruhn)
-Zerk been putting on size in the gym
-Leigh Tudor is development coach and has done a good job and club hasn’t spoken to Choco in recent years
-Truck spoken to Hep about playing half back
-Stewart will do some training with the backs, think they want to make him a swingman
-Dodoro said talks were happening with Merrett about an extension
-Dodoro said upcoming father sons included Misiti, Wanganeen, Davey x 2 and Nat Rat’s son


Did they say then this would be completed?

No, just that once stage 2 was finished they would start lobbying for government funding


What exactly would you want him to say?

I see.

I’d say that means we leave Windy Hill for good?

Also, Brasher flat out said the club is not going to fight for the E34 any more as they don’t want any distractions to the club and current players going forward.

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And for those who are concerned, Brasher also pretty much implied we financially need the pokies and not ready to give them up yet.


bit annoying that dodoro already has to bat back questions about bruhn lol. im a big critic of dodoro but can we let the paint dry on these current recruits before questioning if some random player is better than them?