James Hird

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James Hird
Personal information
Full name James Allan Hird
Nickname(s) Hirdy[1]
Date of birth (1973-02-04) 4 February 1973 (age 41)
Place of birth Canberra, Australia
Original team Ainslie (ACTAFL)
Draft No. 79, 1990 National Draft
Height/Weight 188cm / 89kg
Position(s) Midfielder / Forward
Club information
Current club Retired[2]
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1992–2007 Essendon 253 (343)
International team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2000–2004 Australia 4 (1)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2011–2013 Essendon 66 (36-29-1)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 2007 season.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2013.
Career highlights

James Allan Hird (born 4 February 1973) is a former professional Australian rules footballer and the suspended coach of the Essendon Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).

Hird played as a midfielder and half forward, but was often given free rein by former Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy to play wherever he thought necessary. Hird is a highly decorated footballer including being the joint winner of the 1996 Brownlow Medal with Brisbane Bears' midfielder Michael Voss and a member of the AFL Hall of Fame.[3] In 2008, he was listed by journalist Mike Sheahan as one of the top 50 players of all time in the AFL commissioned book, The Australian Game of Football.[4]

Hird was appointed as the coach of Essendon in September 2010. In August 2013 he was suspended from coaching for 12 months when he was charged by the AFL with conduct prejudicing the game in relation to his role in the Essendon Football Club supplements controversy.[5] Despite not being allowed to work as coach during 2014, the club paid Hird $1 million as an advance for 2014 in December 2013.

Early life[edit]

The son of Allan and Margaret Hird, Hird was born in Canberra where his father worked in the public service and his mother was a teacher.[6] Hird has two younger sisters. After first living in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie, Hird's family moved to Latham. When Hird was in high school, the family moved to the suburb of Reid.[7]

An active yet shy child, Hird took ballet and piano lessons as a child, as his mother wanted him to be well-rounded.[citation needed] However, the piano lessons only lasted a couple of years and ballet lasted "much less".[citation needed] He also participated in rugby league[8] and soccer, both more popular than Australian rules football in Canberra.[9] He was recruited by Essendon from the Ainslie Football Club in the 1990 AFL draft. Due to a serious hip injury along with other injuries in his junior football career, he was not selected until pick number 79, Essendon's 7th and one of the last in the draft.[10]

AFL playing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Due to injury Hird missed out on playing for most of 1991, his first season with the club. At the end of the season, a vote was held on whether to delist him. The majority (4–2) voted in favour of Hird being delisted, although coach Kevin Sheedy voted to keep him. Eventually Hird remained with the club. He made his senior debut against St Kilda in 1992 at Waverley Park, as a late replacement for former captain Terry Daniher. Hird spent most of the season in the Essendon Reserves which, under Denis Pagan, won the premiership that season. He achieved regular selection in the Essendon senior team during the 1993 season. In that season he was a member of what was referred to as the "Baby Bombers", a group of young players (most notably including Hird, Mark Mercuri, Gavin Wanganeen, Dustin Fletcher, Ricky Olarenshaw, David Calthorpe, Paul Hills and Joe Misiti) that played a key role in the side winning the premiership that year. In 1994, Hird won the first of three consecutive best and fairests, culminating in his 1996 season, where he was jointly awarded the Brownlow Medal for the League's fairest and best player with Brisbane Bears midfielder Michael Voss.

Late 1990s[edit]

A series of injuries restricted Hird's appearances during the remainder of the 1990s. He played only seven games in 1997 and although he was named captain in 1998 (a position he held until the end of 2005), he was restricted to thirteen games that year. An even worse year followed in 1999, when stress fractures in his foot kept him to only two games.

Early 2000s[edit]

Both Hird and the Essendon Football Club experienced a more successful year in 2000. Injury free, he received numerous honours, including selection to the All Australian Team, and the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground in the AFL Grand Final. The Essendon team also won the Ansett Cup pre-season competition, and the regular season premiership. The team only lost one game – against the Western Bulldogs – in the entire calendar year.

2002 then saw Hird's worst injury, an horrific facial injury sustained in a match against Fremantle when he collided with teammate Mark McVeigh's knee, fracturing several bones; Hird was in hospital for a week and missed several weeks of the season.[11]

In 2003, despite again missing eight games through various injuries, Hird tied in the Essendon Best and Fairest with Scott Lucas. He also narrowly missed out on a second Brownlow Medal, finishing three votes behind the joint winners Mark Ricciuto, Nathan Buckley and Adam Goodes. He again gained a place in the 2003 All-Australian team.

One of Hird's more memorable performances was in his Round 3, 2004 game against West Coast. Up until three-quarter time, Hird had 19 disposals and one goal; in the final quarter, he managed 15 disposals and two goals.[12] Hird did not receive any Brownlow Medal votes from the umpires for his 34 disposals.[13] Hird's winning goal was the focus of a popular instalment of the Toyota Memorable Moments advertising campaign,[14] and the hug is captured in Jamie Cooper's painting the Game That Made Australia, commissioned by the AFL in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the sport.[15]

Late playing career[edit]

On 27 September 2005, Hird handed the captaincy to Matthew Lloyd following the side's disappointing 2005 season in which it missed the finals for the first time since 1997.[16] After Lloyd sustained a season-ending injury in Round 3 of 2006, Hird served briefly as acting captain until young ruckman David Hille was named acting captain for the remainder of the 2006 season.[17]

Hird continued to be an outstanding performer in his utility role when fit, but age was forcing him to miss games through injury with increasing frequency. He suffered broken ribs and a calf strain during his 200th and 250th games, respectively.[citation needed]

Final season and retirement[edit]

A red banner featuring drawings of former Essendon player James Hird and former coach Kevin Sheedy
Kevin Sheedy and Hird farewell banner ahead of their final game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Despite much speculation that he would retire at the end of the 2006 season, Hird played out the 2007 season, playing 17 of a possible 22 games. Aged 34, Hird continued to feature prominently among Essendon's best players and concluded his career by winning a fifth best and fairest award.

Hird played two farewell games: his final game in Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Richmond and his final game overall at Subiaco Oval against West Coast. The games were made higher profile as they were also the final games coached by 27-year coach Kevin Sheedy. Hird was one of the best on field in his final game with 34 disposals, one shy of his career high. As Hird and Sheedy left the field for the last time the crowd gave them a standing ovation.[18]

Before season 2008, the Archer-Hird Medal was created honouring Hird and former North Melbourne Football Club player Glenn Archer. Since 2008 the medal has been awarded to the player showing the most determination, courage and skill in matches between the Kangaroos and the Bombers.[19]

AFL coaching career[edit]

Immediately after Hird retired from playing football there was much speculation as to whether he would be interested in a coaching role at a club in the AFL, but primarily at Essendon.[20] After initially dodging questions about his future, Hird stated in August 2010 that "There's something in me, deep in my heart, that says at some point I want to coach Essendon".[21] These words came as a surprise to many, including former premiership teammate Matthew Lloyd who said that Hird had "changed his whole persona in regards to how he's answering his questions... Just in regards to saying, 'I'll coach one day. I want to coach Essendon one day'. Even those type of words, I haven't heard before." These comments by Hird, considered to be Essendon's "favourite son", furthered speculation towards the future of then-Essendon coach Matthew Knights.[22] A rumour emerged following these comments suggesting that Hird was part of an unofficial agreement with the Essendon board to replace Matthew Knights for the 2011 AFL Season.[23] However, two days after Hird's initial comments, he announced that he had changed his mind due to the intense division and speculation over Matthew Knights's future following Hird's initial comments. Hird stated that he was ruling himself out of coaching Essendon for at least three years.[23]

Appointment[edit]

On 28 September 2010 the rumours were confirmed when Essendon's CEO, Ian Robson, and Chairman, David Evans, announced at an official press conference that Hird would be the next senior coach of the Essendon Football Club, on a four year contract.[24][25]

His coaching career began with the Bombers winning against triple preliminary finalists the Western Bulldogs in the first round. Wins against St Kilda, the Gold Coast (by a record margin of 139 points), West Coast and Brisbane Lions in the first eight rounds saw the Bombers in the top four by round eight, but a draw against Carlton, losses to Sydney and Collingwood, and a five-game losing streak halfway through the season would prove costly.[citation needed]

Hird's team then won by four points against the previously undefeated Geelong in Round 15, whom assistant coach Mark Thompson was coaching against for the first time since his exit from the club. Prior to that match, Essendon had one of the worst records among current AFL clubs against Geelong in recent times, having only beaten the club once since 2003.

Hird coached Essendon to the 2011 finals, where they lost against rivals Carlton in an elimination final at the MCG.

At the start of the 2012 season, Essendon won eight of their first nine games (the only loss being by 1 point to Collingwood on ANZAC Day), at which point Essendon were in first position on the league "ladder". The club then won 11 of their first 14 games but this was followed by seven consecutive losses until the end of the season. The club ended 2012 in 11th place. A spate of soft-tissue injuries accompanied the decline, as did noticeable fatigue in other players, leading to criticism of the club's fitness and conditioning coach Dean Robinson and, indirectly, Hird and his assistant Thompson for having overseen Robinson's program.[26]

Media career[edit]

Following Hird's retirement as a player from the Bombers at the end of the 2007 AFL season, he became a commentator and football analyst for Australian rules football on Fox Sports, a position which he held until he began his coaching career at the end of 2010. Hird also became a writer for Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun.

Honours[edit]

Hird jointly won the Brownlow Medal with Michael Voss in 1996, the award for the fairest and best player in the Australian Football League. After his retirement, Hird stated that being a member of the "Brownlow Club" was a privilege.[27]

In 1997, the Essendon Football Club named the then-triple best and fairest winner in its Team of the Century on the half-forward flank.[28]

In 2002, the Essendon Football Club conducted a fan-voted promotion to find the "Champions of Essendon". Hird was eventually named as the number three player on the all-time list of Essendon players.[28]

2013 supplements controversy[edit]

In April 2013, Hird was accused of being personally injected with performance enhancing supplements in 2011 and 2012 and also of being involved in the use of similar supplements by his team.[29]

Following months of rumours and investigations, on 13 August 2013, Hird, along with the Essendon Football Club, senior assistant coach Mark Thompson, football manager Danny Corcoran and club doctor Bruce Reid was charged by the AFL with bringing the game into disrepute in relation to the supplements program at the club in 2011 and 2012. The club was given 14 days to consider the charges and faced an AFL Commission hearing on 26 August 2013.[30][31]

On 27 August 2013, following much negotiation, Hird admitted he had brought the game into disrepute and abandoned possible Supreme Court action against the AFL and its Chief Executive, Andrew Demetriou. He was banned from working at any AFL club in any capacity for 12 months commencing from 25 August 2013.[32] Hird is allowed to attend Essendon matches as a spectator, in 2014.[33] However, despite not being allowed to pay him for working as a coach during 2014, the club paid Hird $1 million dollars in advance for 2014 in December 2013.[34]

Essendon chairman Paul Little has said that Hird is wanted as the senior coach once his suspension is served and had been offered a two-year extension from 2015, which would see him coaching until the end of the 2016 season.[33] A media report on 3 October 2013 revealed that Hird denies pleading guilty for a reduced charge, as alleged by Demetriou. Hird's lawyer Steven Amendola asserted that the AFL withdrew all charges against Hird under the deeds of settlement that he and the club signed with the AFL. At the time of the media report, Hird was considering legal action against both the AFL and Demetriou.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Hird married Tania Poynton on 11 October 1997 and they have four children, a daughter and three sons.

Hird's grandfather, the late Allan Hird, Sr., was a notable player for and president of the Essendon Football Club, and his father Allan Hird, Jr. had a brief playing career with Essendon.

Hird completed a degree as a civil engineer in 1998, and in that capacity worked as a consultant on the CityLink project.[36] He has also spent time working for a stockbroking firm and is an active partner in "Gemba"[37] – a sports marketing and media consultancy firm based in Melbourne.

Statistics[edit]

Statistics are correct to end of AFL career.[38][39]
Season Team # Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1992 Essendon 49 4 5 5 45 24 69 29 2 1.2 1.2 11.2 6.0 17.2 7.2 0.5
1993 Essendon 5 16 31 20 174 88 262 89 16 1.9 1.2 10.9 5.5 16.4 5.6 1.0
1994 Essendon 5 20 27 17 224 155 379 143 31 1.4 0.8 11.2 7.8 19.0 7.2 1.6
1995 Essendon 5 24 47 31 254 201 455 177 25 2.0 1.3 10.6 8.4 19.0 7.4 1.0
1996 Essendon 5 24 39 39 330 237 567 175 34 1.6 1.6 13.8 9.9 23.6 7.3 1.4
1997 Essendon 5 7 31 18 75 47 122 31 11 2.6 1.3 10.7 6.7 17.4 4.4 1.6
1998 Essendon 5 13 19 19 159 89 248 73 24 1.5 1.5 12.2 6.8 19.1 5.6 1.8
1999 Essendon 5 2 1 2 19 11 30 5 3 0.5 1.0 9.5 5.5 15.0 2.5 1.5
2000 Essendon 5 20 36 18 294 145 439 115 41 1.8 0.9 14.7 7.2 22.0 5.8 2.0
2001 Essendon 5 22 27 17 266 134 400 109 45 1.2 0.8 12.1 6.1 18.2 5.0 2.0
2002 Essendon 5 16 11 9 232 104 336 84 29 0.7 0.6 14.5 6.5 21.0 5.2 1.8
2003 Essendon 5 18 13 11 279 117 396 77 44 0.7 0.6 15.5 6.5 22.0 4.3 2.4
2004 Essendon 5 20 25 14 307 114 421 103 40 1.2 0.7 15.4 5.7 21.0 5.2 2.0
2005 Essendon 5 17 17 8 234 80 314 78 36 1.0 0.5 13.8 4.7 18.5 4.6 2.1
2006 Essendon 5 13 19 9 172 93 265 86 20 1.5 0.7 13.2 7.2 20.4 6.6 1.5
2007 Essendon 5 17 8 6 278 94 372 109 38 0.5 0.4 16.4 5.5 21.9 6.4 2.2
Career 253 343 234 3342 1733 5075 1483 439 1.4 0.9 13.2 6.8 20.1 5.9 1.7
Legend
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Hird has Bombers off and running (subscription required)
  2. ^ Tracey Holmes (15 April 2013). "Pushing the envelope: Hird's latest challenge". ABC The Drum. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Horan, Michael (9 June 2011). "Nathan Buckley and James Hird among AFL Hall of Fame stars". Herald Sun. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  4. ^ http://www.afl.com.au/tabid/208/default.aspx?newsid=55909
  5. ^ "James Hird agreed to AFL's suspension to help Essendon move on". 28 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Hird (2006), p.5
  7. ^ 'Reading the play: on life and leadership' by James Hird (2006), p.10
  8. ^ Hird, James (2010-05-07). "Why I love the idea of Israel Folau playing footy". The Herald Sun (Australia: Herald and Weekly Times). Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  9. ^ Hird (2006), p.6–7
  10. ^ "Essendon Football Club Draft History". Essendon Football Club. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  11. ^ "Hird has surgery on facial injuries". Sydney Morning Herald. 2 May 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  12. ^ "James Hird's Winning Goal vs West Coast 2004". Network Ten via YouTube. 28 October 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  13. ^ "Judd claims West Coast's first Brownlow". Sydney Morning Herald. 21 September 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  14. ^ "James Hird Toyota Commercial". YouTube. 16 January 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  15. ^ Australian Football League, The Game That Made Australia, Retrieved 19 September 2010
  16. ^ Lloyd to lead Bombers - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  17. ^ Hille appointed acting captain | Essendon Football Club | News Story
  18. ^ Clarke, Tim (1 September 2007). "Teary sendoff for Essendon's Kevin Sheedy, James Hird". PerthNow. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  19. ^ Archer-Hird Medal to continue rivalry
  20. ^ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/tim-watson-offers-james-hird-a-cautionary-tale/story-e6frf9ox-1225907024325
  21. ^ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/james-hird-torn-over-essendon/story-e6frf9jf-1225906547007
  22. ^ Brodie, Will (18 August 2010). "Is Hird getting keener on coaching?". The Age (Melbourne). 
  23. ^ a b Wilson, Caroline (20 August 2010). "Hird does U-turn on coaching". The Age (Melbourne). 
  24. ^ "James Hird announced as coach". 28 September 2010. 
  25. ^ Robinson, Mark (28 September 2010). "Bombers legend James Hird unveiled as new Essendon coach". Herald Sun. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  26. ^ Robinson, Mark (24 August 2012). "The Hird Locker". Herald Sun. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  27. ^ "Winning Brownlow a privilege". Fox Sports Australia. 24 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  28. ^ a b "Essendon Team of the Century". Full Points Footy. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  29. ^ Greg Denham, Courtney Walsh. "James Hird's 'green light to supplements'". The Australian Newspaper. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  30. ^ Essendon supplements saga: The story so far | The Age 13 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013
  31. ^ AFL's statement | The Age 13 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013
  32. ^ Essendon booted from finals, fined $2 million, James Hird banned for 12 months | Herald Sun 27 August 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013
  33. ^ a b Essendon booted from finals, fined $2 million, James Hird banned for 12 months | Herald Sun 28 August 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013
  34. ^ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/james-hird-will-be-paid-his-1-million-annual-salary-in-a-lump-sum/story-fni5f6kv-1226782811551
  35. ^ Adam Shand (3 October 2013). "James Hird eyes action over Andrew Demetriou guilt claim". The Australian. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  36. ^ "James Hird RMIT Alumni Profile". RMIT University. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  37. ^ "Gemba Corporate Site". Gemba. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  38. ^ "James Hird statistics". AFL Tables. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  39. ^ "James Hird of the Essendon Bombers Career AFL Stats". Retrieved 23 September 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hird, James (2006). Reading the play: on life and leadership/James Hird. Pan Macmillian Australia. ISBN 978-1-4050-3764-8. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gary O'Donnell
Captain of Essendon
1998–2005
Succeeded by
David Hille
Preceded by
Nathan Buckley
Shane Crawford
Captain of Australia
2000
2004
Succeeded by
Michael Voss
Chris Johnson, Andrew McLeod
Preceded by
Matthew Knights
Essendon Football Club coach
2011-2013
Incumbent
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Paul Kelly
Brownlow Medallist
1996
Succeeded by
Robert Harvey
Preceded by
Shannon Grant
Norm Smith Medallist
2000
Succeeded by
Shaun Hart
Preceded by
Gary O'Donnell
Mark Johnson
Scott Lucas
Essendon Best and Fairest Winner
1994–1996
2003
2007
Succeeded by
Sean Denham
Adam McPhee
David Hille
Preceded by
Scott Cummings
Essendon Leading Goalkicker
1995–1996
Succeeded by
Matthew Lloyd
Preceded by
Matthew Lloyd
Mark McGough
Anzac Medallist
2000
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Chris Tarrant
Andrew Lovett
Preceded by
Jason Akermanis
Jim Stynes Medallist
2000
Succeeded by
Matthew Lloyd