Mark Thompson (footballer)

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Mark Thompson
Personal information
Full name Mark Thompson
Nickname(s) Bomber
Date of birth (1963-11-19) 19 November 1963 (age 50)
Place of birth Melbourne, Victoria
Original team Airport West (EDFL)
Height/Weight 177 cm / 87 kg
Position(s) Defender
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1983–1996 Essendon 202 (50)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1986 Victoria 1 (0)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
Essendon (interim)
260 (161–96–3)
16 (9-7-0)
276 (170–103–3)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1996 season.
2 State and International statistics correct as of Round 17, 2014.
Career highlights

Mark Thompson (born 19 November 1963), also known as "Bomber Thompson", is the senior coach of the Essendon Football Club for the 2014 season while James Hird serves his suspension.[1] He is a former Australian rules footballer and senior coach. He played 202 games for the Essendon Football Club from 1983 to 1996, captaining the side from 1992 until 1995. After retiring, he was an assistant coach at Essendon and then at North Melbourne before becoming the senior coach of the Geelong Football Club from 2000–2010 and coaching them to two premierships. In November 2010, Thompson returned to the Essendon Football Club as the senior assistant coach and on 10 October 2013, he was appointed the senior coach for the 2014 season.[1][2]

Playing career[edit]

Thompson played most of his football in the backline, gaining a reputation as a fierce competitor. He won the club award for "most determined player" in 1984 and 1986, "Most Improved Player" and "Best Clubman" in 1985, and best-and-fairest awards in 1987 and 1990. He also finished in the top five in the best-and-fairest on four other occasions. Thompson played in the 1984 and 1985 premiership sides, and captained the 1993 premiership team. In 2002, Thompson's contribution to the club was recognised when he was voted the 20th best Essendon player of all time in the "Champions of Essendon" list.

Coaching career[edit]

Geelong (2000–2010)[edit]

As Geelong coach, Thompson was given an extended time to rebuild the club's playing list. The side finished 5th in 2000 as his first season as coach but was bundled out by 8th placed Hawthorn in the first week of the finals in the first finals match ever held at the Docklands Stadium. The club performed poorly for the next three seasons, missing the top 8. Thompson's position looked in danger, but in 2004 the side was a big improver, finishing fourth and making the Preliminary Finals, and the following year (2005) the club finished sixth and was beaten in the Semi Finals by 3 points against the eventual premiers Sydney after leading for the majority of the match. Thompson went on in 2007 to win the AFL Premiership against Port Adelaide by a massive 119 points. Following an unexpected loss to Hawthorn in 2008, Thompson coached Geelong to its second Premiership in three years in 2009.

Due to his success in reinvigorating the club, Thompson's contract was extended until 2007 in late 2004. In 2006, however, the side eventually missed the finals after winning the NAB Cup and winning their first two matches in convincing style, leading them into flag favouritism. It was also a season where Thompson had used the 2005 semi-final loss to the Swans as motivation.[3] Following a Round 22 61 point demolition at the hands of lower-placed Hawthorn, Thompson's job was under immense pressure.[4]

After a very public review of the club it was decided that Thompson should keep his job as coach. After a shaky start to the season that led many supporters to believe that nothing had changed from the 2006 season Thompson led his team to a massive 15 match winning streak (the biggest in a single season in club history) and a 106 point demolition of the Kangaroos in the Qualifying Final which is the 5th biggest finals winning margin in AFL/VFL history.

After the Essendon Football Club decided not to give Thompson's former mentor, Kevin Sheedy, a renewal of contract, there was speculation that Mark Thompson would take up the senior coaching role at Essendon for the 2008 season. However, with trade week quickly approaching, the club instead appointed Matthew Knights to the position.

2007 also marked one of the biggest, if not the best highlight of Thompson's career, in both a coaching and footballer's role. Thompson coached Geelong to win the AFL premiership by more than 100 points – the highest winning margin in Grand Final history, against Port Adelaide Football Club at the MCG on 29 September. It was the club's first premiership since 1963, the year of Thompson's birth.

After their record breaking win in the grand final, Thompson's Cats were red hot favourite to repeat their 2007 success and their form during the year did nothing to change that. The Cats went 21–1 to claim the McClelland Trophy four games ahead of their nearest challenger, Hawthorn. After relatively easy wins against St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs in the finals, Geelong were into their second straight grand final, this time against Hawthorn, and were again hot favourites. In an upset, though, the Hawks beat Geelong by 26 points in front of 100,012 fans.

During an end-of-season holiday to New York that year, Thompson ran into Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy whilst inside a hotel. They were said to have drowned their sorrows following their respective Grand Final losses (Bellamy's Melbourne Storm lost the 2008 NRL Grand Final to Manly).[5]

In 2009 following a heartbreaking loss to Hawthorn in the 2008 Premiership decider, Geelong compiled an 18–4 record during the minor round and disposed of the Western Bulldogs and then Collingwood during the finals series. On 26 September, his Cats faced a St Kilda side determined to break its 43 year Premiership drought. In front of 99,251 fans on a rain-soaked MCG deck the Cats clawed their way back after trailing at every break to win by 12 points. This would be Geelong's second flag in three years cementing their place as one of the great teams of the modern era. Thompson as always was magnanimous in victory and accepted the AFL Premiership trophy alongside Geelong legend Bob Davis.

After Geelong were eliminated from the preliminary finals to Collingwood, at the conclusion of the 2010 season, on 4 October 2010, Thompson announced his retirement and resignation as Geelong coach effective immediately, his reason being that he was "tired of coaching" after a decade at the helm.[6]

Essendon (2010–current)[edit]

On 10 November 2010, Thompson signed a lucrative contract to be the senior assistant coach of Essendon, putting an end to weeks of speculation following his resignation from Geelong.[2][7] According to football writer and commentator Caroline Wilson's sources his contract is said to be worth $650,000 per year.[8] He was appointed the senior coach for the 2014 season while James Hird serves his suspension.[1]

2013 supplements controversy[edit]

Following months of rumours and investigations, on 13 August 2013, Thompson, along with the Essendon Football Club, senior coach James Hird, 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.[9][10] On 27 August 2013, Thompson was fined $30,000 for his role in the supplements saga.[11]


Coaching statistics[edit]

Statistics are correct as of 10 October 2013.[12]
Season Team Games coached Wins Losses Draws Win % ladder position
2000 Geelong 23 12 10 1 52.2% Fifth
2001 22 9 13 0 40.9% Twelfth
2002 22 11 11 0 50.0% Ninth
2003 22 7 14 1 31.8% Twelfth
2004 25 16 9 0 64.0% Fourth
2005 24 13 11 0 54.2% Fifth
2006 22 10 11 1 45.5% Tenth
2007 25 21 4 0 84.0% Premiers
2008 25 23 2 0 92.0% Second
2009 25 21 4 0 84.0% Premiers
2010 25 18 7 0 72.0% Third
2014 Essendon 16 9 7 0 -
Career totals 262 162 97 3 62.5%


Playing honours[edit]

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1985 1
1986 6
1987 4
1989 3
1990 3
1992 1
1993 5
Total 23
Green / Bold = Won
* = joint winner
Red / Italics = Ineligible



Coaching honours[edit]


  • AFL Premiership (Geelong): 2007, 2009
  • AFL McClelland Trophy (Geelong): 2007, 2008
  • AFL NAB Cup (Geelong): 2006, 2009


  • AFL:
    • Jock McHale Medal: 2007, 2009
    • AFL Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award: 2007, 2008


External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tim Watson
Essendon Football Club captain
Succeeded by
Gary O'Donnell
Preceded by
Gary Ayres
Geelong Football Club coach
Succeeded by
Chris Scott
Preceded by
Glenn Hawker
Tim Watson
W.S. Crichton Medal
Succeeded by
Tim Watson
Alan Ezard
Preceded by
John Worsfold
Alastair Clarkson
Jock McHale Medal
Succeeded by
Alastair Clarkson
Mick Malthouse