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Goodwin at MCG "Big Freeze"

In mid-February, allegations surfaced regarding the behavior of Melbourne Coach Simon Goodwin. There were reports of bullying at the club and reports that, ahead of the 2021 season, he was drinking and gambling with players at a hotel pub. Goodwin, along with the entire football department was reviewed ahead of the season and some changes were made. Goodwin spoke to the board and denied the allegations of bullying.

The AFL got involved last February with then-Demons President Glen Bartlett and club director Mohan Jesudason attending an online meeting with commission chairman Richard Goyder and AFL boss Gil McLachlan, who reportedly told the group he had previously shared information with then-Demons chief executive Gary Pert in late 2020 about the drinking incident.

McLachlan told the club officials, “I know for a fact your coach is out drinking with players at the Sorrento pub - are you crazy? That doesn’t work. Hanging out with his players, drinking, and betting - just the wrong behavior. There has to be enough distance. You need to respect him and like him, don’t have to love him, but respect him. You can’t be doing that s**t. You have to make tough decisions. It doesn’t work.” McLachlan then gave his approval for Goodwin’s sacking, along with then CEO Gary Pert.

Club president Kate Roffey, said the club had conducted a full review at the end of the 2020 season and sought feedback from all parties including Goodwin, "On behalf of the current board, I would like to make it incredibly clear that Simon Goodwin, as the current reigning premiership coach and AFL coach of the year, is an exceptional leader of our football club ... at the conclusion [of] the 2020 home and away season the ... board commissioned a review of the football program which was conducted by chief executive officer Gary Pert. At the completion of the review process, the resulting recommendations were presented to the board at the time, and which were unanimously signed off and endorsed ... the final recommendations outlined areas for improvement for several key staff within the football program, that feedback was given and welcomed by Simon and others as a way of improving our young leaders who are driving the cultural change. Simon, like many others within the department, was given this feedback and embraced the opportunity it provided to evolve and improve as a coach. During these feedback discussions, Simon totally rejected any accusations of bullying behavior and as the club president, I totally support Simon rejecting those accusations."

Club captain Max Gawn also chimed in to defend his coach. Like Ms Roffey, Gawn dismissed allegations of workplace bullying and concerns surrounding Goodwin drinking and gambling with players, “I am going to continue to have a beer with my boss and my coach. What we learnt over a couple of beers at the pub ... maybe that is when we nutted out 2021 and we were able to go on to what we did.9 (winning the premiership), I am going to continue to do that in a professional sense and just ‘chew the fat’ at 1 o’clock on a Saturday arvo (afternoon). Goody’s a very close mate of mine. I’ve never had a relationship with a coach like that. He is quite young, so he’s a modern coach. We’re able to chew the fat a lot, and then go serious. But in terms of bullying, I haven’t seen it personally. I’ve seen none at all.”

SEN radio presenter and former Port player Kane Cornes praised Gawn, "Another captaincy masterclass from Max Gawn, in his own way. He fronts up, answers the question, takes the oxygen out of a volatile situation ... But just to say there, ‘We don’t shy away from going out and having a beer with the coach’ - why would we? It’s worked for us, we’ll continue to do what works.”

Goodwin, 45, and the Demons are in talks over a contract extension with the current deal up at season’s end.


Article last changed on Saturday, February 12, 2022 - 11:49 PM EST

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