Grant Thomas (footballer)

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Grant Thomas
Personal information
Date of birth (1958-02-14) 14 February 1958 (age 56)
Original team Frankston YCW
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1978–1983
1984
1985
Total -
St Kilda
North Melbourne
Fitzroy
72 (21)
07 0(1)
04 0(0)
83 (22)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2001–2006 St Kilda 123 (63–59–1)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1985 season.
Career highlights

Grant Thomas (born 14 February 1958) is a former Australian rules football player and coach. He most recently held the position of coach of the St Kilda Football Club from 2001–2006. He attended St Bede's College in Mentone.

Playing career[edit]

Thomas began his career at the St Kilda Football Club in the VFL, debuting in 1978. He took a long time to break into the side as a regular senior player, but settled in as a centre half-back. He played 72 games for the Saints between 1978 and 1983 before briefly moving to North Melbourne in 1984, and finishing his career at Fitzroy in 1985. In just his second game of VFL football, Thomas took a magnificent mark where he climbed the behind post before clutching the ball with one hand. This led to him being nicknamed 'The Fireman' for the remainder of his career.

Following his retirement from the VFL at the end of 1985, in 1986 he moved to become the playing coach of Warrnambool in the Hampden Football League. He won four premierships with the club in just five seasons until 1990.

Post-playing career[edit]

After his retirement from playing, Thomas coached Old Xaverians in the VAFA in 1992 and was the chairman of selectors at the North Melbourne Football Club in 1993 under Denis Pagan.

In 1994 he was an assistant coach at St Kilda under Stan Alves before moving on to pursue various business ventures.

St Kilda Football Club coach[edit]

With his experience in the business world, Thomas took a new philosophy to the St Kilda Football Club when he was appointed caretaker coach of the club in 2001 after the controversial mid-season sacking of Malcolm Blight. Thomas was then appointed as full-time coach.

Thomas had a focus on 'man-management' in his coaching style, as well as conducting practices on the running of the club that are common in the business world. This new style of coaching was characterised by Thomas's occasional use of jargon such as "processes" and "outcomes" – although they are now terms almost universally used by all coaches.

Thomas coached St Kilda to consecutive preliminary finals in 2004 and 2005 plus a Wizard Cup premiership in 2004.[1]

While he initially came under fire for refusing to use the 'flood', Thomas slowly started to integrate the defensive style into his match-day approach with improved results. Despite the criticism, Thomas maintained an impressive win-loss record against some of league's most highly rated coaches, including Malthouse, Pagan, Eade, Matthews, Wallace and Craig.

Thomas once said in an interview about the St Kilda Football Club: "This club is what I'm about." [1]

Thomas is only one of three coaches to coach St Kilda to three straight finals series. The others being Ross Lyon and Allan Jeans, St Kilda's 1966 premiership coach.

Sacking[edit]

After many injuries during the 2006 season, St Kilda finished sixth after the home and away season but were beaten in the elimination final by Melbourne. Injuries to Fraser Gehrig, Robert Harvey, Justin Koschitzke, Raphael Clarke and Xavier Clarke during the game, as well as the underdone Aaron Hamill and Max Hudghton, led to the Saints exiting the finals after leading for most of the match but being unable to run the game out. They finished the season in eighth position, which was not considered good enough by the club's president, Rod Butterss.

On 12 September 2006 the St Kilda football club, announced that Thomas would no longer coach the club as a 'mutual' agreement. Thomas, however, maintained that the club had asked him to leave by sacking him and while he had accepted, it was not completely mutual. [2] The decision was a shock to the football world considering that Thomas was only the second coach to lead the Saints to three consecutive finals series. It is not known why he was sacked, but many factors include the controversial match against Fremantle in Round 5, 2006 in which the Saints were stripped of two points following a hearing the following Wednesday, which ultimately cost them a top-four spot and the double chance, the long-term injuries to Justin Koschitzke, Aaron Hamill and Fergus Watts and starting the season with two interstate trips in four weeks.

Thomas has shown no interest in ever coaching another AFL club.

Post-coaching career[edit]

In 2007, Thomas was hired as a columnist for The Age and his columns appeared every Sunday until he was sacked on 19 July 2008 after an argument with the chief of football, Caroline Wilson, because Thomas had accused Wilson of being a liar on radio station SEN 1116. This led to Thomas losing his job at the paper.[2] He then joined Melbourne sports station SEN 1116 as an expert commentator, until he was sacked by SEN on Monday 11 May 2009. The AFL denied that they played any part in the decision.[3] Until 2012, he was also a weekly panellist on Footy Classified, alongside Wilson, Garry Lyon and Craig Hutchison.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Thomas has 8 children. His son Tyson plays senior football for the Northern Bullants in the VFL.

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Malcolm Blight
St Kilda Football Club coach
2001–2006
Succeeded by
Ross Lyon

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AFL 2004 Wizard Cup Grand Final – Geelong v St Kilda – captain Lenny Hayes celebrates with the trophy". Slattery Media Group. 13 March 2004. Retrieved 7 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Noakes, Cameron (28 December 2008), Caro v Thommo, Round two 
  3. ^ Lane, Samantha (11 May 2009). "Grant Thomas sacked by SEN sports radio". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  4. ^ Stevens, Mark; Ralph, Jon (23 September 2012). "Grant Thomas breaks his silence over his sudden exit from the media". Herald Sun. 

External links[edit]