There are reports of “serious unrest” inside the Essendon Football Club after ruckman Tom Bellchambers was not selected for a farewell game against the Demons in round 18.
Bellchambers announced his retirement prior to the ‘dead rubber’ game for the Bomber, with the veteran fully-fit and available for selection.
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Essendon are a club under the pump at the moment with the futures of Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia and Adam Saad all unclear, with the trio seemingly destined to depart Tullamarine.
St Kilda great Leigh Montagna said it was a move he was surprised by.
“I was disappointed with this. Tom Bellchambers, he’s not a four-time premiership player or multiple All-Australian, but he is one of the more popular players at that footy club. What he’s been through, going through that drugs crisis, I just thought Essendon missed a trick here,” Montagna said on Fox Footy’s The First Crack.
“With a club that’s still trying to find their identity and build their brand off the back of the drugs saga. A player like that, who meant so much and was fit and available, I think they really could have played him and made a big difference to this footy club.
“I understand it’s left a bit of a bitter taste in a lot of the player’s mouths that have played a lot of footy with Tom Bellchambers that thought, hang on a minute, why wouldn’t you exit him and your stars in the right way, and play him in his final game? And now there’s a little bit of angst there.
“They’ve missed a trick, we saw it with Kade Simpson (at Carlton) and the Hawks as well, it can actually be a wonderful moment for a player’s career, and for someone like Tom Bellchambers who’s been through so much at that footy club and been so through hard many times – it would’ve been nice, in a game with no finals on the line, to have played him and just gone out in the right way.”
“My understanding is there’s some serious unrest at Essendon at the moment. It’s reflected outside the club and it’s exactly the same inside the club,” Morris said on The First Crack.
“The best example I can give, aside from Tom Bellchambers, is Adam Saad – who’s a consummate professional, he’s missed one game in three years, there’s a four-year offer on the table for him.
“But he hasn’t re-signed and I believe it’s because he doesn’t feel at this moment in time – he might be convinced, but at this moment in time – that the club is going in a way that’s going to see them win a flag in the next few years.
“Who knows what’s going to happen with (Orazio) Fantasia, who knows what’s going to happen with (Joe) Daniher, there might be other players as well.
“There is unrest there and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some serious changes to their playing list and system of coaches over the off-season that reflect a club that, albeit didn’t have a terrible season, but performed well below where they would’ve expected.”
Essendon champion Tim Watson confirmed there was “unrest” over the treatment of Bellchambers.
“I think there’s unrest (at Essendon), but I think there’s always unrest when you underachieve as a group and then you’ve got to exit senior players, I think that can lead to unrest,” Watson told SEN Breakfast.
“There was certainly heartache around those who were long-term teammates of Tom Bellchambers – that’s real.
“I think they should have (given Bellchambers a farewell game). I saw in the interview at the weekend that Ben Rutten said Bellchambers had a disrupted year and his conditioning wasn’t there.
“I don’t think his conditioning was there, but when you can’t make the finals and you have got a long-term servant of the football club who has done the hard yards with your team, then I just think it’s a nice way to exit a player.
“If you exit players well in this game, then there is a level of gratitude that is then reciprocated and it then spreads through the group in terms of how you treat your players.
“I think that can lead to unrest in this instance because he’s a very popular bloke Bellchambers, particularly with those that have played with him for a long time, then I think that can lead to unrest.”