After a dramatic 24 hours at Windy Hill, one thing is certain, all opposition clubs will be once again terrified of the powerful, mighty Essendon Football Club, the most successful football club (along with Carlton) in the history of our great game.
The 27th September 2010 started like any other day, yet finished with the possibility of James Hird signing on as Coach and Mark Thompson signing on as Director of Coaching for the 2011 season. The coup, if successful, is huge for Essendon and the return of their last two premiership captains will surely help the once dominant club, return to the top of the ladder within a few years.
Passionate Bomber fans, are fed up hearing from rival fans how Hird will fail due to, ” Having not coached at the highest level before”… To those doubting James Hird as Essendon’s new coach, sit back, understand the facts and then share your opinion;
a) Kevin Sheedy coached the mighty ‘Dons for twenty-seven years and delivered four Premierships from seven Grand Finals, having never had prior experience as an assistant.
b) If Mark Thompson is to be appointed Head of Coaching, given his experience he will probably call most of the shots. James Hird is there as a figurehead who will get the respect out of a young playing group. With this, he’ll get the players to play for him and most importantly play for the club, the mighty Red & Black. The intensity will lift, the passion will return. Something that’s been missing for the last three years under Matty Knights.
In addition to this, many are comparing Hird coaching Essendon to that of Michael Voss coaching Brisbane, which people are calling a failure. To those people, did you realised Brisbane missed the finals in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008? Did you also realise that in Voss’ first season in charge, Brisbane beat Carlton in the 2009 Elimination Final? Those basing their opinions on this season, a season troubled by injuries to key players I might add, have a very short memory. If Voss failed this year due to limited coaching experience in the past, how do you explain 2009, when he had even less experience? And of course, James Hird isn’t Michael Voss and Essendon isn’t Brisbane. You can’t compare apples to oranges.
The record under Matty Knights was disgraceful for such a proud, passionate, successful club, having won just 25 of 67 games (37%) while Knights was at the helm. Can it gets worse? Unlikely.
One of the most overlooked aspects in football is the ability of a coach to gain 110% effort out of all his players. There’s more to winning games of football than simply having the skill, the mental aspect is half the battle. Hird will get more out of the current crop of players than Knights ever did, because he’ll have the respect, the admiration. The admiration that a champion brings to the club.
A famous quote from Sun Tzu, a 6th century BC Chinese philosopher and author of The Art of War states;
“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”
This sums up the situation with Hird perfectly and highlights the fundamental difference between he and Knights. Essendon’s greatest player and one of the games most decorated players of all time is definitely the man to set the example and be the perfect role model to the next generation of Bomber stars, just as Sheedy was to Hird almost twenty years ago.
And finally, another magical quote from Sun Tzu;
“It is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.”
To all the doubters, I’ll be sure to remind you of your words when the decision pays off and Hird’s once again lifting the Premiership Cup, just like he did in 2000.