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Post by Lee Harradine on Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:30 am

These comments relate specifically to Essendon, but really are applicable to all football clubs:


I was a trainer and masseur at Essendon Football Club from the end of 1989 to the end of 2019, yes 30 years. I’m a life member and I’m now embarrassed with the direction our once great club is headed.
Make no mistake, as has been said, it ALL has to do with culture.

It’s been completely destroyed over the last 10 - 12 years. There is no culture inside the club now. If the players are asked to play for the guernsey, what does that mean to them or the staff for that matter? When they are all so new that they don’t even understand that there even needs to be a culture.

It has to be passed from generation to generation, staff member to staff member, player to player. It’s also carried over by staff that are entrenched within the club to the players and even new coaching staff. It’s not a course or a workshop, it’s done over time with absolute passion for the club.

Senior management saw fit to weed out ALL of the long term staff over the last 10 years. Even long term trainers (20 years service) having to do Leading Teams around the board table one Saturday morning. Suffice to say after a couple of hours with us they didn’t bother continuing with that. Lol
They are now all gone. The players who originally would bleed for the jumper are gone. Which = culture eradicated.

Business people can only take a club so far, and definitely play a huge part but without great people under them, that are happy to basically work for free, what do you have left.

A business that for a while makes a profit and looks good on paper, but no real club atmosphere.
No passion. Everyone at a club needs to feel that they are an important part of the club. For a very long time now, that hasn’t happened. There is a huge disconnect between staff and management. Staff are scared to speak out for fear of being replaced. That happens very easily at AFL level. There’s always someone ready to take your place tomorrow and the club know that and hold it over people. Until that is repaired, unfortunately as a passionate Essendon person, I can’t see how we successfully move forward.

I really feel for our loyal supporters that continually get fed lies from a management that don’t seem to answer to their supporters anymore. I think the “club” have completely forgotten that “our club” is built by genuine hardworking people that are happy to put their hand in their pockets and pay for memberships when sometimes they probably can’t afford to. They are the true custodians of our club and now they want answers and action and deserve it.
I love Essendon.

There are so many disappointing events that have occurred over those passed years I mentioned. Way too many to mention here. I’d be here all night writing and you’d never get to the end of it.
It’s the things that are too easily swept under the carpet that have slowly diminished our standing as a great club, to now merely a laughing stock. As trainers we know how privileged we are. We are club supporters that have been lucky enough to become a part of a club that we all grew up barracking for passionately and all of us have sacrificed so much family time to be involved. Which we would never, ever change.
As a member of staff you dare not challenge someone of standing at the club because you will be removed. I’m proof of that. Every time I hear someone laughing about us, it just crushes me a little bit more. It’s to be expected. As supporters of clubs we all do it to each other. It’s part and parcel of barracking and supporting a football team and growing up in Melbourne. Most of the time it’s done in jest but when you’ve spent 2/3’s of your life totally committed to the club, it does really hurt and it’s very hard not to take it personally.

Everything I’ve said is fact, not just my opinion.

Our supporters need to know facts not the garbage that’s been fed to them for years now.
I’ve never publicly voiced my concerns or opinion in relation to anything at EFC but enough is enough.
Anyway that’s my 2 cents worth.

Regards,
Craig Yorston.
Lee Harradine
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Culture Empty Re: Culture

Post by aldo russian on Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:22 pm

It's an interesting piece, but I'm not sure I understand what the 'culture' of a club means, or if it's something that can be passed on. Passion for the club can be passed on but what is the culture of Glenelg? What is the culture of North? What is ours?

Is it a series of habits that have evolved over time, such as winning or losing? Is it an attitude and approach to the game? If so, I don't know how that gets carried on from one coach and playing group or from one Board to the next. Or does a club's culture change with a change in leaders? And if so, can you really call that a culture?
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Post by Lee Harradine on Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:29 pm

Perhaps it's partly a generic football culture, as opposed to a 'Club' culture.

It's what a football club is.

I have no doubt that culture is different across different clubs also, though.  The culture of a winning club is quite different from a 'happy to be competitive' club.

There are 2 parts IMO. One comes from the coach - ie Kerley instilled a different culture.

The second is from within.
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Post by TAAARS on Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:32 pm

Club culture to me means a common bond and reason for existing , to strive for success and not accept mediocrity. To quote the 3 musketeers as an example "all for one and one for all".
Another good example (though I hate to admit it ) is the Port magpies with there creed that Fos Williams wrote for them back in the 50' s. Their other quoted saying is "we exist to win premierships".
Where I played junior footy in Whyalla for West they had two slogans that ring true and we were all taught to try and play by were " once a Westie always a westie " ( the reason I started supporting West adelaide back then ) and " The price of victory is dedication". These slogans ran right across their clubroom walls, and were often quoted at matches.
As the Essendon trainer correctly points out the AFL is now a business. It is virtually impossible now in Melbourne to have a drink at a clubs clubrooms. They are all administration centres only and players gyms.
I hope the SANFL never goes that way.
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Post by aldo russian on Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:32 am

Okay but if a club's culture changes with the coach, then is it really a 'culture'? I may well be wrong but I always thought a culture was an overarching thing that remained unchanged. Maybe there are two cultures, one amongst the playing group and one amongst the supporters and the rest of the club.
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Post by Lee Harradine on Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:04 am

I think that's what I was trying to say Smile

When a culture is embedded in a club, many coaches try to change that culture and it's difficult, because 'that's the way we've always done it'. Perhaps Kerley and Collins are the two who had most success in that area, but many coaches have come and gone after (understandably) failing to make such a change.

It's the same off field. A club isn't run just by transient Boards, there are groups of people who do great work, but are omnipresent and often rigid in their thinking.

Until all the different groups are on the same page, clubs like West will struggle against clubs who have had a strong enough culture for years, as TAAARS said.
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Post by RODH2 on Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:12 am

Maybe the Culture of a club manifests itself in the body of people that make up that club, people like the Essendon Trainer above, people that are at the club and working tirelessly FOR the Club without expecting reward. Perhaps it's members and supporters seeking a common goal, whether it is success on and off the field or even comfortable mediocrity, who knows. I don't think it changes with the coach, some coaches realise the ambition of these people. I question the Culture of a Club like the Crows atm, and even Port/ Power (whatever they're called!) which seem to be generally compromised by Corporate largesse. The game has changed, money is everything, and the old values of loyalty and worthwhile tradition are being lost.
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Post by TAAARS on Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:17 am

I think West Adelaide has not had a strong winning culture for decades. Not since the late 50's early 60's have we had a presence that always threatened a premiership or expected to consistently do well.
Sure we pop up every decade or so and make a grand final (even win one occasionally) but never stay up there. Near enough is good enough for us. We seem content with this somehow and even hear  supporters say things like "It's only a game". Successful clubs don't tolerate this. Winning is everything to them. They are never down the bottom of the table for long.
We suffer from what I call the "St Kilda disease". One good year then it's party time, followed usually by internal trouble and back to the bottom.
We are incapable of building a dynasty like other clubs ie Port Magpies, Central Districts, or having any quick rebound ability ie North, Norwood etc.
But at least we are not as bad as South. One small mercy. Neutral
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Post by Lee Harradine on Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:39 pm

Anyone interested in the above comments (all good contributions) will love my book where it canvasses these issues and our identity.
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Post by Oldfella on Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:44 pm

It is my belief that for years and up to the present that we (members/players/senior management and committees/boards) generally accepted that we had a good year if we made the finals. Now this is different to several other clubs who only accept winning finals games indicates a good year however not playing in the grand final is deemed not acceptable performance.

Having observed from in the rooms then I totally endorse Lees comment "When a culture is embedded in a club, many coaches try to change that culture and it's difficult, because 'that's the way we've always done it'. Perhaps Kerley and Collins are the two who had most success in that area, but many coaches have come and gone after (understandably) failing to make such a change." Collo in particular re-educated the attitude of player, football staff, senior management and the board.

While members are passionate about the club I feel that it is also true that the persons appointed to the board in the main are not westies supporters but are passionate about their club business role. Perhaps being a club supporter should be taken more strongly into consideration when assessing potential board members

We MUST set higher expectations in terms of culture in all areas of the club.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Life long passionate supporter
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Post by RODH2 on Wed Oct 14, 2020 5:01 pm

Very good post Oldfella, I do think that the Board pretty much assessed itself, tho! Didn't 110 or so Members of the Club give them that right?
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Post by bruce cameron on Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:46 pm

[quote="Oldfella"]It is my belief that for years and up to the present that we (members/players/senior management and committees/boards) generally accepted that we had a good year if we made the finals. Now this is different to several other clubs who only accept winning finals games indicates a good year however not playing in the grand final is deemed not acceptable performance.

An interesting comment. Due to limited on field success over the years, do we as a club accept mediocrity far too easily?

After our Round 14 win over Norwood, a poster on this Forum wrote this win will keep those content with mediocrity happy for ages!! This win was great for the Coach and playing group. It gave supporters some satisfaction. Nevertheless, the facts indicate that we are, at present, a very poor football club. What of the other three clubs who didn't make the finals? Well, all three are replacing their coach. I'm not suggesting that we do the same, but it does indicate to me that other clubs set the bar higher. Since 2000, these three clubs have won 15 GFs. We have won 1 GF and 7 wooden spoons.

Furthermore, does this acceptance of mediocre on field performances spill over into other aspects of the club? If so change needs to happen quickly.
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