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Statement - James Hird

March 31, 2015 8:13 PM

BTV: AFL Tribunal Decision - James Hird's statement Head Coach James Hird makes a statement following the announcement of the AFL Tribunal's decision.

The decision that our players have been cleared of taking performance enhancing drugs is a huge relief.

We always believed that the players were innocent from day one, the players and the clubs position – the original position that they haven’t taken anything outside of the WADA code, has been vindicated.

The players and their families, and the people of the Essendon Football Club, have endured an enormous strain over the last two years. I’d like to pay tribute to the players and their families in the way that they’ve coped with this and the way that they’ve challenged the Essendon Football Club and also supported the Essendon Football Club along the way. They have incredible strength and resilience.

We have admitted as a club and as individuals that we have made mistakes around governance in 2012. We do not shy away from that, but we want to move on and play football and draw a line in the sand and play football without constant speculation from everyone in the media.

To the supporters of the Essendon Football Club, you are the greatest.

The way that you have stood by our players and our club shows your greatness.

Your loyalty and commitment to the Essendon Football Club and the great game of Australian rules has been incredible. This week against Sydney is a huge game for us, the first game in two-seasons where we don’t have the cloud of a WADA/ASADA investigation hanging over our heads.

I would encourage every Essendon supporter to get along to the game if you possibly can, to barrack for the Essendon Football Club, to barrack for the Bombers to get behind our team. The club is going to put on buses coming from Essendon going to Sydney and give away free tickets. If you want to be a part of that please contact the club, because we want to see you all at ANZ Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

To Jobe and the players, you are an incredible group of people.

Your strength and resilience, compassion and ability to keep getting up off the canvas when people criticise you, people made you feel like you were drug cheats, your ability to want to prove your innocence and stay together as a group of people, shows what character you have.

I’m very proud to be your coach, and I believe that we can have a great football team very shortly and that we can be a part of something very very special in the short and long term.

The staff of the Essendon Football Club deserve an enormous amount of credit for the way that they have stuck by our club, supported our club and gone the extra mile, the extra inch to make our club successful. You guys have been incredible, you’ve held us together. Your smiling faces, it’s been fantastic.

To the board, to Paul and Xavier, and the executive - we’ve certainly had our moments, there have been quite a few and they’ve been quite heated. The good of the Essendon Football Club has always come first. We’ve always been able to resolve our issues to take the Essendon Football Club forward.

I’d also like to thank Jared Petrenko, Sam Michael, Mitch Clisby, Mitch Brown, James Polkinghorne, James Magner, Clint Jones, Josh Freezer, Jordan Schroder and Marcus Marigliani for their commitment to the Essendon Football Club when we really needed them.  I hope your guys time at the Essendon Football Club was a good one, because you added a lot to our club in the four weeks you were here, so thank-you.

To Tania and to my children, my family, my mum, my dad, Tania’s family and all our friends  for their support us as a family and the way you’ve kept us going it’s been incredible, so thank-you.

I love the Essendon Football Club, it’s been  a part of my life since I was born. It’s been a part of my father’s life and my grandfather’s life.

I am so sorry for anything that has happened that has been done wrong to our players or wrong to our football club. I and we would never do anything intentionally to harm this football club, to harm the game of AFL football that has given me so much and has given so many people so much.

Thank-you to Essendon Football Club for the opportunity to keep coaching this club and to all our people.

I love the game, I love the club and I just can’t wait  for the rest of the year to play football and coach football and get back into it again, so thank you.