Essendon midfielder Ryan Crowley insists he still has plenty of love for Ross Lyon despite being axed at the end of last season by the Fremantle AFL coach.
Crowley was keen to play on for the Dockers in 2016 after serving a 12-month ban for doping, but Lyon didn’t see the 32-year-old fitting into his plans and subsequently cut him from the list.
Essendon ended up throwing Crowley a lifeline as part of their top-up quota.
The feisty tagger will get the chance to prove a point when he lines up against his old side in Saturday night’s clash with Fremantle at Domain Stadium.
Lyon helped revive Crowley’s career when he was at the crossroads in 2011, and the 195-game veteran said it was a situation he’d always be grateful for.
“I had a great relationship with Ross,” Crowley said on Friday.
“The best thing that could have happened to my footy was Ross coming to the club and being the coach.
“I’ve got no hard feelings towards Ross. I still love the club. I’ll always be a Fremantle person. But it would be good to get a win.”
Crowley established himself as the league’s best tagger under Lyon, and he soon became hated by rival players and fans alike.
He is unsure whether he’ll get booed on Saturday night by Fremantle fans.
But if they do, there’ll at least be one positive to come out of it.
“It will give me the full set of 18 clubs who have booed me over the journey,” Crowley joked.
Crowley has used the trip to Perth to catch up with some former teammates.
And he’s been having a bit of fun keeping them in the dark about whether he’ll tag them.
“Me and Lachie Neale are really good mates. We had a coffee yesterday, and he was sort of sussing out whether I was (going to tag him),” Crowley said.
“I tried to lead on that I was.
“There’s probably a few people they should keep me away from.”
Crowley isn’t the only current Essendon figure to have been shafted by the Dockers, with Bombers assistant Mark Harvey controversially axed in 2011 as Dockers coach.
Essendon great Kevin Sheedy jumped at the chance to have fun with the situation.
“Mark Harvey’s the problem. If he gets Crowley anywhere near Matthew Pavlich, I think Pavlich is in deep water,” Sheedy joked.
“I’d be very wary if I was Pavlich.
“Please John (Worsfold), work hard to keep Harvey away from Crowley, not to hurt Pavlich. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Crowley said he never imagined in his wildest dreams Fremantle would start 2016 with 10 straight losses.
Essendon have fared only slightly better, snaring one win from their opening 10 rounds, with some people already labelling Saturday night’s match as the wooden-spoon showdown.