'Fully lost': Big revelation in James Hird's failed bid to coach Bombers

James Hird being overlooked for Essendon's coaching job may well have been last straw between he and the Bombers.

James Hird waves to Bombers fans during a special event in the 2022 AFL season.
James Hird's relationship to the Bombers is reportedly hanging by a thread after he was overlooked for the club's head coaching position. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Essendon Bombers overlooking club great James Hird for their head coaching position could potentially have been the last straw between the former star and the team. The Bombers opted to hire Brad Scott for the 2023 season after the messy exit of former head coach Ben Rutten.

Seeking a long-awaited first finals appearance since 2004, the Bombers are at a turning point after an off-field overhaul last year which saw David Barham appointed as club president in addition to Scott's hiring. Hird had reportedly coveted both positions, but was convinced by both Barham and Kevin Sheedy that a tilt at the coaching job was in his best interest.

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Hird had been informed that the Bombers' search for a coach would involve pursuing the likes of former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson. In a meeting with Barham and Sheedy prior to Rutten's sacking late last year, Hird was reportedly told it would be Barham and Sheedy who would be making the final decision.

Instead, the choice of coach came down to a vote of the entire board - with Sheedy being the lone vote for Hird to win the job. Sheedy was actually on holiday in America when Scott's appointment was announced, furiously declaring that the vote to appoint the former North Melbourne coach had not been unanimous, with him being the lone objector.

Veteran AFL writer Mark Robinson took to the Herald Sun with several of these key revelations, declaring that Hird was all but 'fully lost' to the club after missing out on the job. The 2023 season marks 10 years since the Essendon doping scandal first emerged to the public as well.

Following the Bombers' decision to hire Scott over Hird, an irate Sheedy lambasted the club's decision. He said he was 'disappointed' in the club after it had been announced Scott was approved unanimously by the board.

I am extremely disappointed that the comment from my club was that it was fully endorsed, when in fact I voted for James Hird to be the coach of Essendon,’’ Sheedy told the Herald Sun last year.

"The vote was 6-1. Now, I would’ve expected that to have been written, and that in the end the board actually won that vote. But I want to make sure all the fans know that I voted for James Hird and I’m extremely disappointed with the report that went out from the Essendon media department.

“I’m not happy. Don’t tell the Essendon fan base an untruth. This is what happens when you bring new people into the club. I actually felt insulted that Hird would think I voted against him after what he’s done for our club.’’

James Hird leaves assistant coaching job for GWS Giants

Hird has since left his job as a full-time assistant coach for the GWS Giants. After returning to the footy world as a consultant for the club, the Brownlow Medal winner was elevated to a full-time assistant during last season.

Speaking last week about Hird's departure from GWS, Port Adelaide champion Cornes said he doesn't think Hird will ever be a head coach again. “This was always my issue with James Hird going for the senior job. I didn’t think he’d done the work to get into a position to have success in that senior role and when I say ‘do the work’, just by the very nature that he’s been out of the system,” Cornes told SEN radio.

“When you’re out of it for a while it’s hard. To go back in for a little bit and then take a new senior job I thought was going to be difficult for him.

“Now that he is out of the system completely, is that James saying ‘okay, I’m giving up the job of being a senior coach’ because there would’ve been 10 clubs that would have hired him as an assistant coach. That would’ve been great. If he had gone back, worked in the midfield, coached them and then went to different areas like Michael Voss did at Port Adelaide.”

James Hird was overlooked for the Essendon coaching job in 2022, and has since left his position as an assistant coach with the GWS Giants. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
James Hird was overlooked for the Essendon coaching job in 2022, and has since left his position as an assistant coach with the GWS Giants. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

North Melbourne legend David King agreed, saying: “Will he coach again? Probably not. I think the opportunity was there at Essendon, he took a risk, he put himself on the line, maybe he was given advice to do that and that advice didn’t turn out to be correct.

“I think he’s a wonderful asset. If he was working with your leadership group, I’d still have him involved. You speak to any of the players that he works with … it’s an absolute investment.

“I think some of the work he did with Stephen Coniglio was really impactful. He was in trouble as a player Coniglio and I think Hird helped him get back to his best AFL form.”

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