Thompson denies speech was AFL job pitch

Mark Thompson emphatically denies that his much-publicised speech last October was a pitch to become Essendon’s full-time AFL senior coach.

In fact, Thompson says he never thought he would stay coach because he had a deal with James Hird.

But Thompson admits he was believing the rumours at the time that Hird was about to be sacked.

Thompson gave a lengthy and passionate speech at the club’s best and fairest function.

Speculation about Hird’s future was rife, given he had just decided to break ranks with Essendon by launching a Federal Court appeal.

His ongoing court action, which eventually failed, was a challenge against the legality of the joint ASADA-AFL investigation into Essendon’s 2012 supplements program.

“I knew I wasn’t going to coach at Essendon – I was never going to coach Essendon,” Thompson told Fox Footy’s Open Mike program.

“As far as I was concerned, I had a deal (with Hird).”

Asked if he thought Hird could be sacked, Thompson admitted:

“I had heard that, yes.

“I could have believed it, because there was a lot of pressure around at the time.

“Hirdy was under the pump.”

Thompson said he was also adamant he would not take over full-time if Hird lost his job.

Hird has just returned from a 12-month AFL suspension as part of Essendon’s heavy penalties for the 2012 supplements regime.

“I never went to the meetings with people, because I knew that’s what they were going to ask me, they were going to ask me to be the coach,” he said.

“I had a deal with Hirdy, that he was going to come back – I was going to look after his team for year.

“They might have only gotten rid of Hirdy if they could get me.”

There was also intense speculation at the time of Thompson’s speech about whether he would stay at Essendon, given Gold Coast were in the market for a new senior coach.

But Thompson left for a holiday in Mexico the next day and, by the time he returned, it soon became clear he would not coach the Suns or the Bombers.

As it turned out Thompson, nicknamed Bomber, left the club in strained circumstances late last year after Hird returned from his 12-month AFL suspension.

The Bombers parted ways with Thompson when they could not agree on what role he would have at the club.

While Thompson was on his Mexico holiday, the AFL rumour mill went into overdrive that he was taking illicit drugs.

Thompson, a self-confessed unpredictable character, emphatically denied that was the case.

Asked if there was any foundation to the rumours, he replied “none at all”.

“Wherever it comes from, it’s a pretty vicious world out there.”

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