Bomber Thompson leaves ‘Dons in AFL

Mark Thompson’s hugely-entertaining ride through the AFL this year has ended in derailment.


The Essendon great has left the club after he was unable to agree with the club on a new role.

“I’m out, I’m done,” Thompson told the Herald Sun on Wednesday.

“There’s not a job there for me.

“I was happy to work there, but a role could not be agreed upon.”

The three-time Essendon premiership player and two-time Geelong premiership coach made the comments after a meeting with Essendon chairman Paul Little and chief executive Xavier Campbell.

It is highly unlikely the two-time premiership coach will work at another club next year, particularly given his ongoing reluctance to pay a $30,000 AFL fine.

He became one of the top stories of this season while coaching Essendon, as James Hird served his 12-month AFL suspension.

Thompson revelled in the short-term assignment, returning Essendon to the finals and giving full reign to his quirky personality – particularly in post-match media conferences.

His star has plummeted remarkably since Essendon’s tumultuous best and fairest dinner on October 1, where it appeared Thompson could choose between becoming their senior coach full time or taking the same role at Gold Coast.

There was widespread speculation at the time that Essendon were about to sack Hird because he had broken ranks with the club and appealed against their devastating Federal Court verdict.

In an emotional speech that night, Thompson said he wanted to stay at Essendon – but also did not want to go backwards.

This was interpreted widely as meaning he was prepared to take over as Essendon coach.

Hird has since insisted his relationship with Thompson remains strong.

Within days of the best and fairest night, Essendon confirmed Hird would remain coach – for the time being at least.

It also soon became clear that the Suns would not appoint Thompson as their new coach.

Gold Coast eventually poached Rodney Eade from Collingwood for the role.

Thompson’s sudden exit is another landmark in the ongoing mess that is the Essendon supplements scandal.

The AFL issued Hird’s suspension and Thompson’s fine over the club’s 2011-12 supplements program.

If Thompson continues to refuse to pay his fine, the issue will go before the AFL Commission.

Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell said the decision to part with Thompson had been very difficult.

“There were many factors that were considered, but at the end of the day any role needed to have purpose and add meaningful value to our football club,” Campbell said.

“We held extensive negotiations with Mark but we were not able to reach a position that would satisfy both parties and in the end, we had to make a difficult decision in the best interests of all parties and move forward with planning for the 2015 season.

“I would like to commend Mark on the job he did coaching the team in the absence of James this year, he played a pivotal role in the ongoing development and improvement of our players.”

There is speculation Essendon football department boss Neil Craig has become a candidate to coach the Western Bulldogs, or join them in a senior supporting role.

But if Craig leaves the Bombers, that is unlikely to change Thompson’s circumstances.


* Born 19/11/63

* 202 games for Essendon 1983-96, including 1984-85 premierships and `93 premiership captain

* Coached Geelong from 2000-10, including `07 and `09 premierships and 62 per cent win-loss strike rate

* Senior assistant coach at Essendon 2011-13

* Interim senior coach 2014, led Essendon to elimination final.