Mark Thompson asked by Paul Little to coach Essendon 2015 if James Hird was sacked
January 28, 2015 11:00PM
MARK Thompson says he was asked by club chairman Paul Little to consider coaching Essendon in 2015 on the night of last year’s now infamous best and fairest count.
Disputing claims by Essendon that James Hird’s job was not under threat late last year, Thompson has claimed Little asked in the event the club did sack Hird would he consider continuing in the senior coaching role. He had been interim coach while Hird served a 12-month ban imposed by the AFL.
Thompson says he didn’t answer Little and flew out of Australia the next day for a holiday in Colorado and Mexico.
He admitted he thought Hird’s days — if not hours — were numbered.
“Paul said, ‘Look, if things work out and James wasn’t coaching, would you take on the job?’’ Thompson said.
“And I never answered. Basically I said when that happens or if that happens then come and ask me then.”
On Friday, a Federal Court judge will deliver the verdict in Hird’s appeal in his case challenging the legality of the ASADA drug probe that has resulted in 34 players facing doping charges.
Thompson said he would’ve felt he betrayed Hird if he took the job if Hird had been sacked.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do and it’s not the right thing to ask me to do, to be honest,’’ Thompson said.
Little told the Herald Sun in November the club did not try to end Hird’s tenure during a tumultuous 24 hours in early October, and that Hird had the full support of the chairman, the board and the players.
The day after the best and fairest count on October 1, Hird had a meeting with Little after Hird chose to ignore the club’s directive that he not appeal the case against ASADA lost by Hird and the club in the Federal Court.
It was speculated Hird would be sacked and Fairfax Media in fact reported Hird had been sacked.
Hird survived and, in an extraordinary twist, Thompson was effectively sacked by Essendon in November after Thompson and the club could not agree on a role in 2015.
In an expansive interview, Thompson told the Herald Sun this week the Bombers didn’t “technically’’ offer him the job.
“They never directly offered me the role,” he said.
“Technically, Paul didn’t offer the role. He said in the event that we sack Hirdy would you be in a position to take the job.
“So he hasn’t given me the job, he asked me if I was in a position.”
Thompson, speaking publicly in detail for the first time since his speech at the best and fairest, which he says was misinterpreted, said it was an incredible 24 hours at the club.
“It was very hard to predict what anyone was going to do and I know they (Essendon) changed their minds a fair bit in a quick amount of time.
“I thought they were going to sack Hirdy. But I never said to them once I would coach.”
The uncertainty about Hird’s future meant Hird was told not to attend the best and fairest count and Thompson chose not to visit the club on the day of the count.
“I knew they were going to ask me about coaching, so I didn’t go there,’’ Thompson said.
Little buttonholed Thompson at the count, although there is dispute about whether it was before or after Thompson’s speech.