Sorry guys a long one, there is allot wrong.
There is a lot that has gone right in the post Saga years, the Woosha era - unfortunately for some i think they blame the saga on most of our issues, for me they stem back to well before the saga, and in some ways the saga covered up some of the underlying issues that had grown out of the end of the Sheedy era.
Looking back at the club history there are many club defining personalities which have shaped the EFC. In the modern era, none more so than Sheedy’s. One of the reasons i believe he was so successful at EFC was because he complimented the long history and culture of the club, whilst also stamping his own brand on it. When people talk about the deep culture and history of the club, one the that stands out to me is how some of these individuals have added features to the club we are all so proud of, none more so than Sheedy’s with out connection to the indigenous culture, marquee games that bring us commercial success and most of all a hard edged swagger that defined the successful era of Sheedy’s time in charge. His team were tough, uncompromising, skilful and innovative, they defined eras in football.
I truly would have loved if Sheeds had been able to sell the board on the 3 year plan with Hirdy as assistant and then handing over to him after. It would have completed his legacy and potentially embarked the club on a rebuild to take us into the future. There is no doubt Sheedy was stale, but as the GWS time prooved, he wasn’t beyond it. The new challenge of teaching a coaching group around Hird would have been a task he would have relished in and brought new vibrancy to his passion.
Instead, Jackson and co decided to go with a new era in the EFC with the appointment of Knights. A true CEOs pick, not a former premiership player or EFC donor backed newbie, a hand picked candidate from the talent of the CEO, developed within the management system. But for me this stunk of desperation, one of a CEO attempting to pin the recent era success on his good management rather than Sheedy’s genius. I truly believe he thought Knights was going to lead to a next era of success because he didn’t believe there was anything special about Sheedy or coaches in general. I believe he thought with time and patience, a half competent coaching that is surrounded by good management, some new draft pick talent and the brand of EFC - it would be enough.
Knight proceeded to destroy the playing group culture and instil one he had learnt from Richmond, one of blame and excuses, never self critical of his abysmal performance or decisions. I believe this was big step in our cultural demise.
The problem we had then, where to next, we were at a crossroads in the clubs history, what would define our future. The problem we had was our new Chairman was son of a great, the CEO was an ejected reject from the Hawks and they clearly were worried about their next move, what would define the future. So they went back to a version of Sheedy’s plan, only this time Sheedy wasn’t there. At first it was the ‘Don’t Make Plans’ Williams/Hird, which progressed into Hird/Williams followed by the Royal Box of Hird/Thompson. The plan seemed OK, but the desperation sank in as time progressed, by 2012 it has been 12 years since a flag, haven’t won a final in 11 years and the club and coaching group start to look for any means to bring back success, we turn to the charlatans of Robinson and Dank on ensue the darkest period in the clubs history the Saga.
Whats interesting in the 2013 season i believe that old culture of EFC instilled into Hirdy and Bomber actually comes through, we fight. But over the subsequent 3 years the AFL, WADA, other club CEO’s, players and journos continually pound the club, coaches and players into a meek shadow of there former selves. But what remains at the end of 2015 is a club and team beaten, one which will give into anybody who puts up a decent fight, laying the blame and excuses internally when things go wrong.
For me, the appointment of Woosha and the 2016 season was the beginning of a cultural rebuild, we had the chance to start a fresh with no expectation and build a brand of footy on field which could set the tone of the club on and off the field for the next 20 years. For the most part, i thought we did that. We demanded performance no matter the personnel, we fought hard when we had no chance of success, we buried Fark Carlton with a bit of swagger at the end of the season, we were on a path to redemption. But we did so without much opposition, almost like they were having a hiatus on smashing the bombers out of sympathy. We are allowed a year to build ourselves back.
What has happened since is the hiatus from the competition has ended and we have let every negative aspect of the previous ten years of cultural demise creep back into the playing group and club. We have played players out of sympathy, we have kept player longer through fear of repercussions. We have pandered to the media, AFL and other clubs. We have been almost apologetic for any positive growth we have had. We capitulate when challenged. We have demonstrated the culture of EFC, built by the early pioneers, fostered by Reynolds, Coleman, Maddern, The Danihers, Watson, Sheedy is now dead. Its an empty carcass, a club with no soul, operating and playing because that is what it does with no understanding of why or for what purpose. We are a club and playing group who has lost their fight.
The good part is, the current group has the chance to build a new era, create a brand and culture from nothing to forge their name in the history of the EFC like so few before them have. But to do that, you have to start with a commitment, one which is uncompromising in application, and for a football club it has to happen on the field. No amount of good management and beautiful balance sheets will do.
To build a winning culture for the future, the players have to commit wholeheartedly to it, but they also have to impose that will and culture on the competition, without it they have no chance of taking the their next flag.
And i can assure you, nowhere in that culture defining would it be - to stand silently watching Rampe mount the goal post, which a i deem to be the AFL community metaphorically raping the EFC, followed up by the umpiring department and AFL management diving in for sloppy seconds whilst we sit in shame afterwards. To let this happen without outrage from the Chairman all the way through the coached to every player on the list is a disgrace.
For ■■■■■ sake EFC, will you bring our Swagger back and tell the competition, AFL house and anybody who get in our face to ■■■■ off. And if they don’t, impose your will on them to until they do, learn to fight once again.