James Hird news sparks AFL fan uproar over Essendon coaching search

James Hird handballs to a player while assistant coach for the GWS Giants.
James Hird has interviewed for Essendon's vacant head coaching job in news that has left AFL fans in a frenzy. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

James Hird is reportedly in consideration to coach Essendon in 2023, with the Bombers champion reportedly interviewed by the club earlier this week.

The news sent Essendon fans into overdrive, with the prospect of Hird once again coaching the Bombers after his controversial prior tenure ended in 2015 considered an intriguing one.

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After re-joining the AFL coaching ranks this year as an assistant coach with the GWS Giants, Hird has emerged as a potential replacement for predecessor Ben Rutten.

Rutten was sacked after round 23 following a messy week of uncertainty as the Bombers made a late attempt to woo Alastair Clarkson to the club.

The pitch didn't pay off, with Clarkson signing a long-term deal with North Melbourne and Essendon's reputation among the coaching fraternity taking a hit due to their treatment of Rutten.

He was reportedly interviewed by Essendon's coaching selection panel, which is headed by football boss Josh Mahoney and includes Robert Walls and Jordan Lewis, on Wednesday.

Hird took the helm in 2010 but was suspended for the 2014 season for bringing the game into disrepute for his role in the drugs saga, which later led to the suspension of 34 players.

He returned to the club following the 2014 season but resigned in August 2015 with a final record of 41 wins, 42 losses and one draw.

Fans were thrilled by the news, many taking to social media to share their thoughts.

In an interview recorded before the Bombers sacked Ben Rutten last month, Hird left the door ajar for a return to coaching.

"There's a lot of elements about it (coaching) I like," Hird told the Howie Games podcast.

"I was asked by the CEO of a footy club six weeks ago if I'd like to coach - not his club - but if I'd like to coach again.

"I'd have to have family considerations to do it.

"I love the fact that you get in deeply and you work with young people to create something really, really special and you create a great team environment."

Melbourne assistant Adem Yze is one contender, while former Adelaide coach and Sydney assistant Don Pyke and ex-North Melbourne mentor Brad Scott have been linked to the role.

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

Ross Lyon rejects Essendon coaching overtures

Lyon opted against throwing his hat into the ring to replace the sacked Ben Rutten.

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

"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."

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

But the 55-year-old Lyon decided against pitching for the job.

"I thought about it for an hour and a half and then I just emailed back and said 'thanks for the call, I have no desire to take it any further'," he said.

Lyon coached 305 AFL games at St Kilda (2007-2011) and Fremantle (2012-2019), being a losing grand finalist twice at the Saints and once at the Dockers, and had been earmarked as a candidate to replace Rutten.

Lyon chose to remain in media roles with Triple M and the Nine Network. He also works in the real estate industry.

Lyon last year knocked back Carlton's advances to apply for their then-vacant head coaching role, subsequently filled by Michael Voss.

With AAP

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