Former Cats’ coach Mark Thompson has blasted Geelong’s culture since he left the club in 2010, claiming he feels “betrayed” by his former side’s current recruiting policy and the way it has treated its aging stars.
In his biography, The Whole Story, which was released this week, Thompson says that the legacy and culture he left at the club has been shattered, as he criticised the club’s management of Steve Johnson, James Kelly and Matthew Stokes, who were moved on by Geelong at the end of last season, while also disagreeing with the club’s decision to recruit Patrick Dangerfield.
“Geelong went hard for Dangerfield in 2015 and landed the big fish, but I must admit I feel betrayed by what they have done, because at the same time James Kelly and Matthew Stokes (to Essendon) and Steve Johnson (to GWS) were moved out, and they have been wonderful servants of the Geelong Football Club,” Thompson says.
“I am already on record as saying that Paul Chapman, who went to Essendon from Geelong in 2014, should have had the opportunity to play out his time at Geelong, and I feel the same way about Kelly, Stokes and Johnson.”
Thompson praised the selflessness of his premiership stars during his time at Geelong, but believes that culture is not longer alive at Geelong.
“These are multiple premiership players, legends of Geelong, and they stayed at Kardinia Park even through that period when all of them could have earned much more money elsewhere.
“It was how we managed people at the time. We had nobody on really big money and we stayed together for team success, we told those players to be loyal and that it would be reciprocated by the club, so they remained even when they might have extracted $250,000 a year more at another club.
“You are dealing with people; what does Geelong not get about that?
“In that sense, the footy club is just another workplace, so what I feel now is that the legacy we created at Geelong in my time has been let go.
“I thought that some of it would survive, but five years on, it has disappeared, so it seems. Yet again, it is proof of what a brutal game it is.
“Patrick Dangerfield might lead Geelong to another flag; he is certainly a special player. I will be happy if he does, but I still find it difficult to see why it had to happen the way it did, without consideration and respect for the loyalty those premiership players showed to the club when it really mattered.”