Mark Thompson is in the midst of a testy separation with Essendon, saying he will support Geelong when the two AFL clubs play this season.
Thompson left the Bombers in strained circumstances late last year and did not attend this month’s reunion of their 1984-85 premiership teams.
He played in those sides and also captained Essendon to the 1993 premiership.
In an extensive TV interview on Monday night, Thompson said he had mixed feelings about returning to Essendon in 2011 as a senior assistant to James Hird.
Asked if he regretted going back to the Bombers, Thompson said “a little bit”.
Thompson was a popular caretaker coach at the club last year as Hird served a 12-month suspension because of Essendon’s supplements scandal.
“At the moment, I just feel like they (Essendon) didn’t support their workers – all of them,” Thompson told Fox Footy’s Open Mike program.
Thompson controversially left Geelong, where he was a two-time premiership coach, to return to Essendon.
“I shouldn’t have gone to Essendon, but at the same time – and I told Frank (then Geelong president Frank Costa) this – you need to work,” Thompson said.
But Thompson is adamant that his relationship with Hird remains strong.
When Thompson left Essendon late last year, there was speculation he had fallen out with Hird.
Thompson insists he had a deal with Hird that once the suspension ended, Hird would be back as senior coach.
“It’s alright, it’s okay, it’s good,” Thompson said when asked about the state of his relationship with Hird.
“I’m happy for him to be coach, I’m happy that he’s doing a good job and I hope he stays.”
Thompson added that Hird was the biggest victim in the Essendon supplements saga.
“I think he has to win a lot of people back and I think he’s going about it, in this short time already, the right way,” Thompson said of Hird’s return to AFL senior coaching.
And Thompson said there was no way the supplements program would have happened when he was coaching Geelong.
“It wouldn’t have gotten to me – (senior Geelong official) Steve Hocking would have just gone ‘no’,” he said.