Bombers legend Tim Watson rips club over James Hird move

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Tim Watson and James Hird are pictured side by side.
Essendon great Tim Watson has applauded James Hird for interviewing for the Bombers coaching job, but believes re-hiring him would be a mistake. Pictures: Getty Images

Essendon champion Tim Watson has warned the Bombers that hiring fellow club great James Hird has enormous potential to blow up in their faces.

Hird, who coached the club through a tumultuous period from 2011 to 2015 including sitting out for a season in the wake of the club's memorable doping saga, was interviewed for the Bombers' vacant coaching position on Wednesday.

TELLING: Brutal twist in Wayne Carey casino saga after legal threats

HUGE: Jarrod Berry saved at tribunal by neurosurgeon in boost for Lions

Essendon sacked coach Ben Rutten at the end of the season after a disappointing seven win campaign, and a week of speculation after the club mounted a late push to recruit Alastair Clarkson.

Watson, a former teammate of Hird and father of Job Watson, who captained the club throughout much of Hird's tenure, said bringing back the club champion simply wasn't the right move.

A much-vaunted succession plan, which saw Rutten take over from John Worsfold for the 2021 season, didn't pan out and Watson was wary of the club looking to a 'saviour' when widespread change was necessary.

Watson said Hird's return would simply result in a colossal amount of pressure given the circumstances of his departure in 2015.

“I think for a lot of people it would drag back all those things that happened and occurred during that period of time that he was there as coach,” Watson said.

“I have to say that I’d be more than surprised if he ended up being the coach of the Essendon Football Club."

After a horror season which has seen a swathe of changes in the club's off-field operations, Watson argued it would take more than a figure like Hird to unite the club.

"Let’s say Essendon is broken, I think what would unite a club will be success. It doesn’t have to come from James Hird being the coach to unite Essendon," he said.

“The club would have been united under Ben Rutten or John Worsfold had they been more successful.

“We don’t need a saviour to come back and unite the Essendon Football Club. We need somebody who is able to put a plan of action in place that is able to deliver success and to start to build a successful team again, that’s what we need.”

Tim Watson argues James Hird not the right choice for Essendon

While Watson was fairly straightforward in his arguments against Hird, the Bombers great said he nevertheless respected him for putting his hand up.

The Bombers great said Hird would no doubt have known interviewing for the job would have brought up the spectre of his previous coaching tenure.

"I’m happy for him to be part of the process and for him to have the courage to put his and up and even go through because he would have known what this would attract once it became public knowledge,” Watson said.

“He would have known that it puts him right out there in the middle of the conversation again which he has wanted to shy away from and avoid for a long time.”

“My thought on all this is you go through a process and if it’s set up correctly and ask the right questions then you end up with the best candidate,

“Out of all this, it may end up being James Hird, who knows?”

James Hird is pictured as an assistant coach for the GWS Giants.
Dean Solomon and James Hird, who both were assistant coaching for GSW in 2022, are candidates for the vacant Essendon job. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Ex-GWS boss Leon Cameron and former Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon have already opted out of the process.

"I can't articulate why," Lyon told Triple M.

"Sometimes it's just ... it wasn't vibing. There was no vibe.

"I am a million per cent out."

The former Fremantle and St Kilda coach was approached by the Bombers' football manager Josh Mahoney.

"Off the bat, I said 'look, I don't feel it's the right fit for me, but can you just explain what it is?'," Lyon said.

"And he was really good. Really simply, they're going to have five or six candidate, at least two steps, maybe three.

"But the first step, I wouldn't be in. I think that's for guys who hadn't coached before, there's some hurdles for them to jump, and I think they narrow it down.

"The second round would be a couple of hours ... presentation, how you connect with players, build that relationship, what your first 30 days would look like."

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.