TOM HARLEY NEW GEELONG CAPTAIN; BOMBER KEEPS JOB
By Ben Jensen TOM HARLEY has been appointed the Geelong Football Club's Captain for season 2007, replacing incumbent Steven King, while Coach Mark Thompson has been reconfirmed as the Cats' senior coach. In a sometimes tense board meeting, held before yesterday's VFL loss, Thompson had one final chance to explain himself before leaving the meeting and left while the directors decided his fate. GFC CEO Brian Cook soon telephoned him with the good news.
Thompson will assume a more 'teaching' role and relinquish the unofficial 'head of football' title to a new football operations general manager. 'Extra responsibilities' were cited as a reason for the season's failures; Thompson was forced to spend too much time on administration and not enough on coaching.
While not bothering to issue a formal press release, opting instead to brief a select few journalists and set off the Chinese whisper, Cook did confirm Thompson's communication skills were identified as lacking. Cook also confirmed Garry Davidson's career is all but over.
Since 2000, Mark Thompson has made the finals three times (2000, 2004, 2005), winning two finals from six. Winning a high of fifteen games in 2004, the past two seasons have yielded only 12 games (2005) and 10 games this season.
Thompson denied his marriage breakup had an obvious effect on his coaching, but conceded it might have. "You do not know from the inside whether it did (or not). But this year we had a lot of distractions and (I) just have to change that and concentrate on my strengths, start work on the pre-season program and put the them (boots) back on .
What do I think?
The club has made a sound decision that may prove to be right. Importantly, whoever's the coach, the football department will be restructured. We'll finally get an experienced football GM, something most other successful clubs have already.
Of course, at the Bulldogs Rodney Eade's the coach as well as 'General Manager Football' or 'Head of Football' - but in my opinion he's also got far better assistants in Chris Bond and Leon Cameron. Could you honestly say you'd ever see one of Geelong's assistance coaches getting an senior AFL gig? That's who our assistant coaching recruits should be, and paid accordingly.
Tom Harley, 28, veteran of 142 AFL games, has only managed thirteen games in each of the past two seasons but the club has assured supporters he is 'as fit as he's ever been'. While missing nine of the first twelve games, Harley did play the last ten games, injuring his hamstring in the last match against Hawthorn.
A player who genuinely bleeds for the club, Harley will represent the club with integrity on and off the field. Well spoken while having little opportunities to appear on major TV programs to date, appears regularly on radio.
Harley made his debut with Port Adelaide in 1998, kicking a goal with his first and only kick for the Power. He was traded by Port Adelaide for Geelong's draft selection 37. Port Adelaide selected Adam Morgan who went on to play 17 games with Port and the Bulldogs.
Since Mark Thompson's first season as coach in 2000, Harley has been a regular fixture in Geelong's backline, forming an amazing partnership with two time All Australian full back Matthew Scarlett. Scarlett and Harley played their 100th games together in round 8 2004.
Harley will be assisted by four vice captains, yet to be named, but will certainly include Cameron Ling, Joel Corey and Paul Chapman. King will concentrate on getting himself fit and hopefully improved on his 16 games this season, and play his 200th game.
In other developments:
FORMER SKIPPER STEVEN KING WITH GIRLFRIEND DANIELLE ATKIN
NEW CAPTAIN TOM HARLEY
MATTHEW SCARLETT TOM HARLEY POSE BEFORE THEIR 100TH GAME IN 2004