The Essendon supplements saga has once again been thrown into the spotlight, with the Herald Sun leaking a secret tape of a Bombers’ crisis meeting from the height of the scandal.
The recording, from 2013, is of Essendon chairman Paul Little, coach James Hird, senior assistant Mark Thompson and football manager Danny Corcoran.
The quartet can be heard discussing their rage at the AFL, who they believe had betrayed them.
“Every single issue that I agreed on with Gil McLachlan, and I met with him the other night, has pretty much been reversed now in this note here,” Little says.
“I rang him (McLachlan) last night and I said, ‘You know, you’ve really upset me here, because you’ve gone back on your word, Gil’.
“He said, ‘No no, I haven’t, I haven’t’. I said, ‘You have. You told me one thing, and now you’re doing something else’.”
Hird then responds with: “They’re a pack of f—ing lying pr—s — and they have done from the start … ”
Little also details a conversation he had with McLachlan about whether the players would be punished.
“Because based on reading the report I don’t think that, legally, we could be charged with anything. So if there’s not something else then how do we sort of rationalise with what they’re doing? I don’t know how you rationalise,”Little adds.
“Can I go back a step? They talked about, during the week, that the players would get cleared,” Hird responds. “They’re now going back on that, obviously?
“He’s now saying to me, ‘oh, I was referring to 9604’, and I said, ‘that is f–king crap’. I said, ‘we parked 9604, we all agreed that that was going nowhere’, and then we spoke about getting the players cleared, ‘unconditionally’ was the word I used,”Little explains.
“He then said to me: ‘There is a 99% chance that the players won’t be charged’. And I said, ‘well, I’d like to believe you but are you happy for me to use that language in front of the players?’. And he said, ‘oh no, you can’t do that’. And I said, ‘well, f–k, you’re telling me one thing and over here we can’t say anything to the players’.
“And he said, ‘let me work on it, I will try and give you some language that will give you the comfort that the players so desperately need’.
“But legally, what he’s saying is that ASADA or WADA or anyone else won’t sign off on an enduring release for the players because if something turns up next month, next year, they don’t want to have a situation where they can’t do anything because they’ve given this full release.
“And I said, ‘so you expect these guys to be playing footy for the next couple years with this hanging over their head?’. And he said, ‘well’ … he said, ‘that’s what ASADA are saying to us’. So I don’t know…it’s just round and round in circles.
Little even suggests at one point the club should accept a deal.
“I mean, Hirdy’s determination to fight this is admirable in many ways, but … I just think at some point in time if there’s a deal to be cut to get all of this behind us and get on with our lives, as much as we hate it and we detest it and we believe we’ve been wronged and everything else, you as individuals and the club as a whole need to decide if that’s what they want to do,” he says.
“What is in the best interest of the footy club and what is in the best interest of you individually?”