James Hird Writes for Herald Sun

James Hird: ‘I couldn’t dig myself out of this hole’

FOOTBALL clubs are made up of people, not buildings or facilities, most of whom are passionate about their roles.

Players, administrators, volunteers — the passers-through — are, in my experience, some of the most passionate people I have met.

Then there are the supporters who, unlike the before-mentioned, are lifers. Most are supporters from birth and hold the club in their hearts. They carry the flame from one generation to the next, mostly regardless of success or failure.
Occasionally, a son or daughter chooses their own club, much to their parents’ angst. For the passers-through and the lifers, what has happened at Essendon and to Essendon will never be forgotten. But the dawn of a new era is upon the club.

This season, Essendon, led by John Worsfold and Dyson Heppell, will bring its supporters a new start and incredible joy.

We all hope for a premiership, but just to see the red and black play with its best players and unencumbered will be something I, for one, am looking forward to.

This year, I have been given a wonderful opportunity to write for the Herald Sun about sport and life. Four years as a senior coach and two in the wilderness have changed my perspective on life and the game.

I was not a student of the football in 2016, and have some catching up to do, but I look forward to engaging with footy people again and immersing myself in the great game of AFL.

This is my first article of the year and I have been asked to touch on the events that lead to me spending five weeks in the Albert Road Clinic — a Melbourne psychiatric facility.

The words “psychiatric facility” conjure up images of crazy people strapped to tables or walking around in drug-induced comas.

The reality is that the clinic, and others like it, are very different to this and are essential to our community.

It was life-changing for me.

Certainly, it was no holiday camp but provided a supportive, welcoming, safe and caring environment and allowed me to receive the treatment I needed. I am eternally grateful for the outstanding professional support I received from the nurses and doctors.

Everyone has a breaking point and I reached mine after years of continual stress. I am not ashamed to say that I needed the care I received and without it I do not know where I would be. Depression is more than just sadness.

It is an all-encompassing, debilitating, real sickness that strikes many people.

In 2002, I fractured my skull and required multiple metal plates in my head. I, for one, would prefer multiple skull fractures to the feeling of deep clinical depression. My first call to beyondblue in 2015 was an admission I needed help but it took until January 4, 2017, when I took too many sleeping tablets, to truly accept that I could not dig myself out of this hole.

Life has taught me a lot about strength, weakness and how people deal with situations. Strength comes in many forms and I have seen many incredible athletes who possess a strength of character that is abnormal.

I have never seen or witnessed a person as strong as Tania. Her unconditional, all-encompassing love, positivity, strength and ability to keep rising to the challenges that have been put in front of our family has been extraordinary.

Over the past four years, I have been short-tempered, distant, hard to live with, rude at times, and ill.

Tania, my children, my extended family and friends have loved, supported and cared for me when I didn’t deserve their support.

It is the unconditional love and care alongside the professional attention that has given me a second chance at life. I am an extremely lucky man to get a second chance and I am embracing it with everything I have. The Essendon theme for this year is about their comeback story. I can’t wait to watch the comeback for many reasons.

But mostly to see the smile on the Essendon supporters’ faces. To see the lifers, who have followed Essendon and will continue to follow Essendon come what may, enjoy the footy. For them I hope 2017 is a great year on the field.

Bring on 2017 and the year of the comeback.





So sad.

But it sounds like he is back, so very happy.


James Hird - great man, Champion and a hero to any right-thinking person.


Straight back up on the horse, Jimmy.
Power to you.


Me too… good to see him back.


I’ve no fkn clue why he’d come back anywhere near the AFL industry but I’m glad to read that he’s doing well.

Welcome back Hirdy.


They say that emotions are more profound at high altitudes (currently I am at 39,000 feet over Indian Ocean) so that is my excuse for tearing up over reading James’ article. What a great man he is!


All strength and power to you and your family James.



Great to have you back Jimmy.
A brave and well written article.
Great stuff


Hird Is Back! Yay!


How I have missed the man.


I didn’t think it was possible to love and respect the great man more. But I was wrong. What a true champion in every sense.


March to the G??? How good would that be.


Whoa. What an article. Great to see he seems happy and seems to be on board with the club.


Rollo may need to issue us with more likes to spread around this thread…


Well done to the HS for giving Jim an opportunity. As always the man is honest, and genuine. I really hope to see him back at Essendon one day, not that the club deserve it, but for us supporters who will always believe in the club and him, it would put a full stop to the last 4 years.
Can only wish Jim and his family well, and I am excited to read the HS again after a long time.


I need to hug the great man.


Hirdy, you’re a lifer just like me.
You are an inspiration, as you have been for the last 4 years. The fact that you can write an article like that shows that you have bent, but your didn’t break. Welcome back.
And please, please, please, don’t let the haters drag you down. They are still around, and you are going to hear from them in the next few days and beyond. When that happens, just let it go. Gil and Wilson and their lik can do what they like.They can’t touch you.
We love you, and Tania and Stef and the boys.
I so look forward to seeing you at a game or at the club.
Keep it in the Essendon family and forget trying to talk to or interact with the general public. Their loss.


Love this article!