Essendon suffered arguably one of the club’s most humiliating losses on Saturday night against a Geelong side hardly at the peak of it’s powers.
The Bombers were belted to the tune of 69 points, and to make matters worse, they had not scored a goal at half-time.
Essendon’s half-time score of 0.6 6, was the first time the club had remained goalless in the first half of a match since 1984 and the club’s lowest half time score since 1968.
The loss was embarrassing for several reasons.
Firstly, it was a 69 point defeat, which I think speaks for itself.
Secondly, Essendon has a list ripe for September action. They played finals last season, and they have the right mix of experience and youth and enough talent to take them deep into September.
We have seen them do it. They beat Hawthorn in round two with a brilliant performance and they very nearly accounted for the Swans in round one, before being over-run in the final term.
Young players such as Jake Carlisle and Joe Daniher have proven that they can dominate the game and tear sides to shreds. However, doing it consistently, as is the case with any young player, is the hard part.
What all this means, is that Essendon should quite simply not be belted by 69 points and not be sitting in 13th spot on the ladder with four wins and six losses. The Bombers have lost four of their past five, but coach James Hird has declared that there’s no need for panic stations just yet.
Yes, a very serious case can be made for the distraction of the ASADA and now WADA drugs case hanging over the players’ heads.
It is a terrible situation to have to deal with and I’m sure the majority of the fans of the game hope that these young men can move on with their lives sooner rather than later and that the right result is handed down, which is clearly an innocent verdict for the players.
However, if these poor results continue, Hird’s coaching will no doubt come under fire, as it should. Any team with similarly high expectations and poor results will begin to question their coaching choice.
The fans will also begin to get restless and the media will sometimes even lead a chorus of criticism over the much besieged coach. But luckily for Hird, his coaching has not been called into question heavily over the past few weeks.
Instead, the players, as they should be, are being blamed for several disastrous performances.
The one thing saving Hird from that pressure at the moment is the drugs saga. But the fact remains, that Hird will eventually face the music, as when losses mount, pressure always grows on the coach.
Fans will call for the coach’s head and the Board will be tempted to listen.
But can Essendon even begin to question Hird’s coaching, when they stuck with him through his one year suspension?
If they sack him at the end of this year, they may as well have sacked him a year ago.
Essendon stuck by their coach in a huge show of faith, when many other clubs may have sacked their coaches. The favourite son was backed in to lead the club back from the brink.
No one would blame the club if Hird is shown the door when losses mount, as any board would most likely do the same.
But it simply cannot do that.
After the club was dragged through the mud, some would even argue due to Hird’s ‘poor governance,’ a few losses pale into insignificance.
Besides, the club owes it to the fans and the entire club, to stick with Hird through a poor season, as it is the only way to try to validate their decision to keep him as coach.
If he is sacked within the next 12 months, then they should have kept Mark Thompson at the helm, instead of wasting over a year with Hird as coach.
Hird may not necessarily be the club’s next premiership coach, however, a quick, rash decision will only serve to further alienate the fans and the players.
Clubs that show resilience in tough times are often the ones that see success in the long run.