Dons spoke to Bomber about replacing Knights

Mark Thompson says he was approached by Essendon to take a coaching role at the club during the 2010 season before the Bombers sacked Matthew Knights from their senior coaching position.

Max LaughtonFOX SPORTS

FORMER Geelong and Essendon coach Mark Thompson says he was approached by the Bombers during the 2010 season to take over from Matthew Knights.

Thompson told Fox Footy’s AFL 360 he was called by then-club president David Evans and club champion Tim Watson in June or July.

At the time, Thompson was still coaching Geelong but rumours had reached the Bombers that he was unhappy and considering leaving the Cats after a decade at the helm of the club.

Knights was sacked at the end of the 2010 season after public statements from Essendon chief executive Ian Robson the month before that he would continue as coach through 2011.

“I got the phone calls about June-July because they got the rumour that I wasn’t happy at Geelong and was thinking of giving it up,” Thompson said.

“But if I had have coached anywhere (in 2011) it would have been at Geelong, not Essendon.”

Matthew Knights coached Essendon for three seasons before being sacked and replaced by James Hird.

Matthew Knights coached Essendon for three seasons before being sacked and replaced by James Hird.Source:Supplied

The question was asked of Thompson as to whether he was offered the role due to comments by Tim Watson on SEN radio earlier in the day.

Watson said he believed James Hird was going to be an assistant coach at Essendon under Thompson as the senior coach.

While Thompson said he was never officially offered the role of senior coach, he admitted there was clear interest from his former club for him to take over from Knights.

“They got told obviously that I was unhappy and maybe not going to coach Geelong, and I just told (Evans and Watson) if I was going to coach anywhere I was going to coach Geelong,” he said.

“They didn’t offer me the senior job, that’d be silly wouldn’t it because they already had a coach?”

Thompson said he was surprised that he was being asked about his interest in the position because Knights was still in charge of the Bombers, who ended up winning just seven games in the 2010 season.

Mark Thompson ended up as an assistant coach under James Hird at Essendon.

Mark Thompson ended up as an assistant coach under James Hird at Essendon.Source:Supplied

“The first thing I said was do you really want to get rid of Matthew (Knights), is it his fault completely?” Thompson said.

But when asked by AFL 360 panellist and Herald Sun writer Mark Robinson as to whether he found it strange that he was being spoken to by senior figures at Essendon mid-season, Thompson said it was a common occurrence.

“You reckon it’s strange, that clubs ring coaches midyear?” he asked somewhat incredulously.

Thompson took an assistant coaching role at Essendon in November 2010 after announcing his retirement the month earlier, stating he was “tired of coaching”.

He was then appointed senior coach of the club in 2014 while James Hird served a suspension for his role in the drugs saga.

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