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Thompson joins Hird at Essendon

By Greg Buckle 10/11/2010 08:10:09 PM Comments (0)

New Essendon coach James Hird may have completed his dream team with Mark Thompson joining the club but for Geelong the situation is still hardly the stuff of happy bedtime stories.

With the simple words: "I'm in" former Cats mentor Thompson surprised all by marching onto the field at Bombers training on Wednesday to confirm his return to Windy Hill as senior assistant coach.

Thompson, a three-time premiership player with the Bombers, coached Geelong for 11 seasons and two premierships.

He was contracted to the Cats for 2011 but quit after citing burnout.

Controversy remains however about how and when Thompson was lured to the Bombers.

Outgoing Geelong president Frank Costa took a call from Essendon chairman David Evans on Wednesday as the Bombers made another attempt to improve relations between officials and fans at the two clubs.

"I wasn't really surprised. Mark's got to consider his future," Costa told AAP.

"Mark's moved on and we've moved on too."

Costa said he wished Thompson all the best and urged Cats fans to get behind new coach Chris Scott.

But the manner in which he was approached by Essendon still clearly rankles the Cats, with Costa unhappy about the sequence of events leading up to his signing.

"We are disappointed we could not get a bit more transparency from Essendon," Costa said.

"We would have liked to have known about Mark's decision a little bit earlier."

Costa said Thompson had told him when he chose to quit in early October that he'd been approached a number of times by Essendon.

"He hadn't returned those (Essendon) calls. He told me he couldn't give 100 per cent next year as Geelong's head coach," Costa said.

"I took Mark at his word."

For their part Essendon continued to dodge the question of whether they had approached Thompson during the 2010 season itself.

"We've been in discussions with Mark for some time," Essendon football operations manager Paul Hamilton said.

"There has been various discussions at different levels. We don't want to make any further comment on that."

Hamilton was left to face the media on Wednesday with Hird unavailable because of a recruiting commitment interstate while Thompson won't officially take up his new position until December.

"It was an impromptu visit at the training session today (at Keilor Park)," Hamilton said.

"We didn't know he was going to come and confirm his position.

"He went directly to the coach and the players to say he wants to take up this opportunity.

"He clearly was excited this morning to be there, to come back to the club that he played for and loves ... and help unite this club."

Hamilton admitted Thompson's return to Essendon was not a surprise, but the way the deal was sealed at training was a shock.

"The members will be incredibly excited," Hamilton said.

"He wants to get back into being an assistant and just working with players on a one-on-one basis. I think that's the thing that excites him.

"We've got the best possible team we can together to bring this club forward.

"The players were in the middle of training when he walked out onto the oval.

"It was a surprise to James. The players continued and their eyes were wide open.

"Once that drill was over and they all came in, James made the announcement."

Hird said Thompson had produced a two-time premiership-winning list "from scratch" at Geelong.

"Between myself, Simon Goodwin, Dean Wallis and Sean Wellman we have got a fairly young coaching group," Hird said in a statement.

Former Geelong assistant Brendan McCartney will also join Thompson at Essendon.

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