Give 'em a Rocket

NEW INSIGHTS: With a ball yet to be kicked in anger, Eade says he doesn't miss coaching - yet.
Saturday, March 22
Geelong Advertiser _ Graham Bicknell

HE was quick on his feet on the field, hence the nickname, and equally as fast in making strategic moves from the coach's box.

Now, Rodney ``Rocket'' Eade brings that velocity of thought to the readers of the Geelong Advertiser.

Eade will write a column in Addy Footy each Tuesday for the entire season, including the finals.

A four-time premiership player during 229 games for Hawthorn, who as a coach took the Sydney Swans to five finals, including a Grand Final, in his six-and-a-half years with the Sydney club, Eade's analysis will give readers new insights into the game.

This, after all, is the man who devised ``flooding.'' Not necessarily the most attractive strategy ever put into play in modern football, but one which certainly shook the game.

His departure from the Swans mid-2002 season was acrimonious, but it could have been worse had Eade decided to stay and fight rather than keep the damage to a minimum by resigning.

``It was untenable to go on,'' he said yesterday.

``It just wasn't worthwhile, no one was going to benefit from it with what was going on behind the scenes.

``My upbringing was at Hawthorn and there the club comes first. I knew my contract wasn't going to be renewed at the end of the year so it was better for the club, not so much me, that they started thinking about the next season.''

Asked what exactly was going on behind the scenes he replied: ``It was a lack of support from various angles, a bit of back-biting and people talking round corners. It was affecting everybody, including the playing group, so it was better for all concerned that I go.''

Eade, wife Wendy and daughter Megan, five, were planning to move back to Melbourne from Sydney last November, but a serious illness to a relative has caused them to postpone their plans.

``It turned our lives upside down,'' Eade said.

``Through the summer I just did a bit of public speaking, now I'll increase the media work and be ambassador for the Victorian Country Football League. Basically I'll be writing for their publication, making presentations at award nights, speaking at their annual conference and coaching the rep side against the amateurs.

``I'll also hold some coaching seminars around the state.''

As well as writing for the Addy and a Sydney newspaper, Eade will also be special comments man on ABC Radio, covering the Swans games in Sydney but also commuting to Melbourne regularly.

He says being at the Swans games won't be a problem.

``Admittedly my relationship with some in the hierarchy isn't great and I don't want it to be,'' he said.

``But I've got nothing against the club. You've got to move on, there's no use wallowing in self-pity or holding grudges.

``Clubs are going to go on no matter what people think. I had some great times and there are a lot of good people there. I've got good memories so I'd hate to spoil that.''

At this stage, with a ball yet to be kicked in anger, Eade says he doesn't miss coaching - well, not too much.

``I'll probably miss match days and the work that goes into the week as you gear up. But I certainly won't miss the politics and all the stuff that goes on in the background,'' he said.

Although the annual debate about which coach will be the first to fall this season is already raging, Eade isn't contemplating picking up the reins at another club in 2003.

As for the 2003 season, he says three, possibly four teams, stand out.

``Brisbane, Collingwood, Adelaide and Port, even though they had a poor pre-season are ahead of the rest, you can throw a blanket over the others.''

As for the Cats, ``Rocket'' has good news.

``I've been pretty impressed by them so far. I know they've got a few who have only played 10 or 20 games but they've also got a group who have played 30 or 40. It's marvellous when you get players like that together and know they're going to explode as a unit,'' he said.

``I think Geelong have got a good mix and I pick them to make the eight. They'll have intangibles too, they're young and whether that becomes a bit much for them at the end of the season, like it did last year, is a bit of a concern.

``They need their tall forwards to stay injury free because they're not a big side up the front.

``I'm a big rap for Cameron Mooney, if he can continue to take steps forward as he did pre-season, I think things look reasonably rosy for them.''

Remember, ``Rocket'' takes off in Addy Footy this Tuesday.