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Crows, Suns, AFL coaching merry go round

Tue, Oct 7, 10:10am by Mike Randall

UPDATE: THE race for the Adelaide coaching job looks over with Port Adelaide assistant Phillip Walsh expected to be named Brenton Sanderson’s replacement.

Port Adelaide president David Koch made the announcement on his show Sunrise this morning, with the Crows likely to make it official this afternoon.

This leaves Gold Coast as the only team without a coach, with Sportsbet installing Mark Thompson a $1.50 favourite to take over from Guy McKenna.

Koch said the Power were flattered that the Crows thought “so highly” of their football department, saying Walsh goes with their blessing despite having two years left to run on his contract.

“Even though Phil’s got another two years to run on his contract, it’s etiquette in AFL that if an assistant gets the opportunity for a senior coaching job you let them go,” Koch said.

Sportsbet had Walsh a $1.75 favourite to win the coaching job, before hastily taking their market down when Koch revealed that Walsh was the Crows’ man.

Phil Walsh betting

Top Crow: Adelaide is expected to announce Phil Walsh as its senior coach.

The Crows gave Brenton Sanderson his marching orders about two weeks ago, putting a premium on finding a “premiership coach”.

Mind you, Sanderson had led the Crows to a preliminary final in his first season, less than three years ago, before having his side’s spine ripped out, with Taylor Walker going down with a knee injury and key position stars Phil Davis and Kurt Tippett moving on to greener pastures.

The Crows first looked to favourite son Simon Goodwin to take on the role.

Dual premiership player. All Australian. Played 275 games and captained the club. Perfect for the job.



Just a day later, Goodwin was on his way to Melbourne to begin “succession planning” as an assistant to Paul Roos.

The next obvious candidate? Essendon assistant Mark Thompson.

But he was never going near Adelaide after they sacked one of his Geelong men.

“No, I’m not interested,” Thompson said of the Crows’ job last month.

“I wouldn’t go there – especially now.”

Which lead them to Walsh, one of the most experienced assistant coaches in the AFL.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast ‘review’ into Guy McKenna produced a less than desirable outcome for the West Coast Eagles champion.

‘Bluey’ copped it and had his card stamped by the Suns’ board, farewelled with one of the more bizarre press conferences you will see.

Google “John Witheriff press conference” to watch it.

Brenton Sanderson

Sacked: Brenton Sanderson was moved on from the Crows.

“Today is about Guy McKenna,” was Witheriff’s mantra throughout.

Anyway, the Suns now have a hunt on their hands, with Bomber Thompson clearly in their sights.

There’s not much of a plan B if they want someone experienced, with potentials like Michael Voss and John Worsefold expressing little interest.

But the spanner in the works is what Essendon does with its coaching situation.

James Hird has somehow saved his skin at the Bombers, despite months of public and legal battling over the supplements scandal that rocked the club in 2013.

The ‘show cause’ notices to the 34 players accused of taking a banned substance are reportedly set to be reissued by ASADA as early as Monday, but the Bombers have announced Hird will be the coach in the “immediate term”.

Not a bad effort, especially after Thompson, who coached the Bombers during Hird’s year-long suspension, put his best foot forward at the club’s presentation night – an event that Hird did not attend.

“The thing I’m really struggling with right now is taking a step back,” Thompson said at the awards night.

“The plan was to leave after this year.

“I don’t really want to, because I love this footy club and I love the players and I want them to do really well.

“(But) I can’t do a job that doesn’t actually fill a need, so we’ll have to wait and see how we go.

“You don’t go backwards in this world.

“We don’t ever want players to play in the AFL and then go back to the VFL and expect them to enjoy that.

“They hate that and that’s a little bit about how I feel.”

So who is the favourite to take the reins at the uber talented young Suns? And who will be the man to be thrown into the footballing bubble at West Lakes?

Read on to find out.

Bomber still the front runner at Gold Coast

AS Mark Thompson lounges around the US on a well-deserved break after leading Essendon to the finals in 2014, the crew at still have him pegged as the next man to lead the Gold Coast Suns.

Bomber is a skinny $1.50 favourite, despite his heavy ties with Essendon.

Hawthorn’s smiling assistant, Brendan Bolton, who won five of five games as interim coach while Alistair Clarkson was on the injured list, is second favourite at $5.

“I understand it’s a tough gig to try and get a senior job and the planets need to align both for the club and the individual and, if the personality and the club match, then it all works,” Bolton told Fairfax recently.

Another man with Hawks ties – the 2008 grand final’s seven minute man – Stuart Dew, currently an assistant at Sydney, is rated an $8 chance, while Brisbane champion Voss, who has expressed little interest, is still in the hunt with punters at $12.

“Regardless of the Essendon situation, punters are still convinced that Bomber will be coaching at the Gold Coast next year,” Sportsbet’s Shaun Anderson said.

“He has clearly been the best backed.”

Next Gold Coast Suns Coach Market

$1.50   Mark Thompson
$5      Brendan Bolton
$8      Stuart Dew
$10     Scott Burns
$12     Michael Voss
$16     Brenton Sanderson
$23     Brett Ratten
$23     Nathan Bassett
$26     Leigh Tudor
All others over $34

* All odds provided by

Adelaide job a race in three

Port Adelaide assistant Phillip Walsh is set to make the cross to arch rival Adelaide and become its next coach, if you ask punters at Sportsbet.

After weeks of speculation it now looks like a three horse race to see who will be Adelaide’s next coach.

Despite not even being in the initial market, Walsh – who still has two years to run on his Port Adelaide contract – is now the $1.75 front runner to replace Sanderson.

Another Power favourite son, Dew, has been well backed since day one and remains in with a chance at $3.50, while the Hawks’ Bolton has been the best backed overall and is also priced at $3.50.

“Unless there is a late play from left field, the betting says it’s down to Walsh, Dew and Bolton,” Anderson said.

“Walsh really has come from nowhere, we didn’t even have him in our early market but he is now better than a toss of the coin chance to coach the Crows.”

Hawks head coach Alistair Clarkson, who was touted as a chance to take on the role by former Adelaide gun Andrew Jarman on radio, had been crunched in, but is now rated a $41 chance with a host of other names.

Next Adelaide Crows Coach Market

$1.75   Phillip Walsh
$3.50   Stuart Dew
$3.50   Brendan Bolton
All others over $41

* All odds provided by Sportsbet.

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