James Hird interviews with Essendon about return to coaching role

James Hird has put his hand up to coach Essendon once again, seven years after he was sacked in the aftermath of the supplements scandal.

Jordan Lewis, who is one of six people on Essendon’s coaching sub-committee, confirmed the meeting with Hird and three other unnamed candidates on Wednesday.

Hird is one of a number of names linked with the vacant role, a list which includes former Adelaide coach Don Pyke and former North Melbourne coach Brad Scott. Melbourne assistant Adem Yze is also in the running.

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Lewis said the sub-committee was “impressed” by the presentations from the candidates.

“Having never been involved in that type of presentation or setting, for me it was one, intriguing and two, really enlightening,” he told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

“The way that modern-day coaches think about football and the way it should be played I think is encouraging for not only Essendon, but certainly the competition.

“For me and a lot of players who have played the game and gone out of the game and not gone into coaching, there’s certain elements of either the football program, the way the club is structured, what a potential coach thinks about going into an organization, that for me were all new.”

Lewis also revealed that he’d done his own due diligence on Essendon before joining the sub-committee in conversations with “20 people” linked to the club.

“It’d be derelict for me to go into a position like I’ve been asked to do without getting a feel from the club,” he said.

“From parents, players, ex-players, staff members – I’ve called 20 people. I’m not there day-to-day and a lot of people involved in this aren’t there day-to-day so it’s not only what we think is the best candidate or the best coach for the Essendon Football Club.

“You’ve certainly got to have a finger on the pulse on what’s inside the club and what they think they potentially need.”

Hird returned to the AFL’s coaching ranks earlier this year after six years in the wilderness, flanking former Bombers teammate Mark McVeigh as an assistant at the GWS Giants.

Hird coached Essendon in 85 games between 2011 and 2015, amassing a 41-43 record with one draw.

A tenure that started brightly with a finals appearance in his debut season at the helm quickly turned sour when the club embarked on its infamous supplements program during the 2012 which resulted in 34 players eventually being suspended.

Hird was suspended for 12 months at the end of 2013 after being charged by the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute.

His assistant Mark Thompson coached Essendon during the 2014 season, before Hird returned for the 2015 season, in what ultimately proved to be a short-lived return.

Dons would ‘happily’ have Hird back

Hird spoke candidly about his time as a coach, saying his weakness was trusting people.

“I should have been over more of the detail,” Hird told the Howie Games podcast of his time at Essendon’s helm.

“I trusted the people I asked to do things to do things and they weren’t. (I was) a bit naïve. I really was a very trusting, accepting person because nothing really bad had happened to me.

“We had two people there who were bad people who, I don’t think they cheated, but that’s debatable. I still don’t think players took the wrong thing, but the players were put in a very compromised position which they shouldn’ t have been put in.”

Essendon is expected to finalize who its next senior coach will be by the end of the month.

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