By Ben Shafir
I have been a passionate Essendon supporter my entire life. My membership card states I have been a member for a year longer than I have been on this planet. Mysteriously I was born almost nine months to the day after we miraculously defeated Hawthorn in the 1984 Grand Final. Coincidence? I don’t know, ask my parents.
I have stayed somewhat silent over the last six months since the drug scandal first broke. Maybe I was naive or maybe I was just hoping that my beloved football club and their coach (James Hird, the greatest player I have ever seen wear the red and black) could not have made such a monumental mistake. But I can no longer remain silent.
The game of football relies on skill, fitness and tactics to beat one’s opposition. When you step outside that philosophy and employ the use of ‘boundary pushing substances’ there is something fundamentally wrong. Regardless of whether those substances were legal or illegal is no longer such an issue in my mind. The point is that the club undertook a regime where the players’ health was no longer considered the primary objective; rather it was a series of pharmacological experiments aimed at developing a competitive edge. It appears that the club and Hird totally lost sight of their duty of care to players and their families. More so a lack of transparency and accountability in the pharmacological experiment made it even more dangerous.
As the coach, James Hird, was in on this program and may have even spearheaded it he bears great responsibility for its outcomes. Investigations have proved there is a blurring of what was legal and illegal but one thing for certain is that the program was totally out of control and not conducive to winning premierships in the spirit of the game. To harness a drug culture and actively promote it among young men sets a dangerous precedent and is not something I want in my football club.
So the time has come. The time has come for the Essendon Football Club to remove those that were responsible for this audacious and irresponsible regime. I don’t expect those in question to admit their guilt and I’m sure their versions of events are somewhat different to what has been published through independent investigations, however the longer this goes on the more damaging it will become.
I want my club to get back to basics and begin its quest for a seventeenth premiership the old fashioned way – skill, fitness, tactics and above all, hard work. It is of my belief that the presence of James Hird at the football club no longer fits in with this culture.
I therefore believe that there is no other option than for James Hird to hand in his immediate resignation to the Board of the Essendon Football Club and for the club to accept all punishment that it is dealt by the powers that be. Monumental errors were made by the Essendon Football Club. It is time to accept all responsibility and move on.
I want my club to rise to the top yet again; likewise I want this darkest chapter in the club’s 140 year history closed.
Last week my friend Ben Shafir passionately wrote about his feelings on facebook. An easy way to get your feelings out there to share with your friends. I too feel strongly about the ongoing saga, however I do not feel that Hird should resign and will write an op-ed to be published here by Wednesday. Essendon Football Club must listen to it’s members and offer them an outcome so they can believe in their club again.
Update: Carrington’s view on why we must forgive Hird.
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