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Taking The Big Freeze Plunge

Round 18 was Essendon Coach John Worsfold's 105th and final game with the Bombers. He has urged all the "Essendon people" to get behind his successor, assistant coach Ben Rutten. He and the club have been under heavy scrutiny, especially after the resounding defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide in Round 17.

Following that loss, Worsfold said in the post-match press conference, "I understand that Essendon people think that Essendon should be better, but they've also got to understand that the competition challenges clubs now to work to the same rules".

He later clarified his comment in a prepared statement for the pre-game press conference ahead of the clash with Melbourne, "For those of you who know me will always know I play and coach with everything I've got. I'm extremely passionate about anything I do, and I certainly care. I'm also an introvert, and I understand that this passion doesn't always come through, especially in press conferences ... I'm much better at playing the game rather than just talking about it. So let me be really clear to all Essendon people, which includes all staff, players, members, coteries and our supporters. I joined our club five years ago because I felt for what it was going through (the supplements saga fallout) and I thought I could help. Wins and losses are important but my great love of the game comes from the people. I saw players hurting, I heard from supporters who were hurting, the club was hurting, I wanted to be part of the club bouncing back. To be part of footy being fun again at the Essendon Football Club. I had so much respect for the club that I joined to be part of that fightback ... I can't thank you enough for your loyalty and support ... through the toughest of times. I heard from you directly about the pain you felt from those tough years. There are better times ahead."

Regarding Ben Rutten, he said, "I believe strongly in Ben Rutten, that is why I agreed to a succession plan. I believe Ben has learnt and grown this year, and is now better placed to take the club forward. As you all get to know him you will respect him as much as myself and the players do. The Essendon playing group have been through two massive transitions in my short time at the football club. I also believe really strongly in these young men I know so well. I respect there will be those who don't share my confidence. The future will reveal the reality, and I'm looking forward to watching that."

Worsfold said he didn't have a crystal ball to know when Essendon would be ready to challenge for a premiership, but said he knew it took hard work to win a premiership and it was not something that happens overnight.

In conclusion, he said, "I've watched Damien Hardwick do such a great job at ... Richmond ... it took him seven or eight years to eventually get that premiership and in that period there was a massive call to change everything, to change the coach, change the board and they stuck at it. I'd just like to implore Essendon people to keep backing the club, to back Ben Rutten, to back this playing group to take them forward. It will be tough and there's a lot of hard work to do but I know they're up for it."

Worsfold indicated last year that 2020 would be his last with Essendon as he wants to return home to West Australia. Rutten played 229 games with Adelaide. After his retirement at the end of 2014, he became the defense coach for Richmond and joined Essendon last year.

Source:, AFL Record Season Guide

Article last changed on Friday, January 15, 2021 - 12:08 AM EST

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