The Australian Army, according to an odd report in The Australian, has hired “executive coaches” to teach senior officers not to appear too “authoritarian and assertive”. No doubt the army’s worried about excessive assertiveness frightening the enemy.
There are coaches for everything these days. Maths coaches, aerobic coaches, diet coaches. In Indianapolis in June a woman was arrested for offering sex for beer at (where else?) the Wild Beaver Hotel. She was described by the Daily Mail as a “female life coach” although she did not appear to be setting a great example for her customers.
In AFL footy, coaching has exploded. The coaching box sometimes looks like a peak-hour train out of Flinders Street station, packed shoulder-to-shoulder and brimming with more laptops than you’d find at a geek convention.
Sixty years ago Demon coach Norm Smith just sat on a wooden bench inside the fence, clad in the traditional gabardine overcoat and hat. In 2017 the members of each club’s “coaching panel” line up in rows behind the senior coach, all with matching outfits in club colours and backed by a board speckled with club sponsors’ names and logos.
You have your forward coaches, your mid-field coaches, backline coaches, on-ball coaches, ruck coaches, goal-kicking coaches, stoppage coaches. There are assistant coaches who aim to be senior coaches and assistant coaches who used to be senior coaches. At the Dees they even have a “coach performance manager”, former Bulldogs senior coach Brendan McCartney, who is a sort of coach of the Melbourne coaches.
There is coaching for every facet of football life. If a player thumps another player the coach will announce that this is not the “culture” the club is aiming for and the offender is coached into issuing an apology, explaining that he has let the “playing group” down, that he sincerely regrets breaking “Knuckles” Harrison’s jaw with a “high-impact” forearm then jumping twice on his chest.
Note that it is no excuse that “Knuckles” Harrison grabbed him first by the knackers and told him that he, “Knuckles”, had been bonking his mother-in-law. However, it is likely that the Match Review Panel, the all-powerful MRP, will take the knacker-grabbing into account as provocation which, with a guilty plea and a suitably contrite media grab, can reduce the suspension by two weeks.
Counselling from the executive coaches will then be offered to both players, an on-going program to stamp out the kind of unwelcome authoritarianism and assertiveness that has so damaged the senior ranks of the Australian Army.
The players will also be coached against ever visiting the Wild Beaver Hotel in Indianapolis.
Eddie McGuire (2017): “Dangerfield has kicked the last two goals on one leg. What a player.”
Brian “BT” Taylor (2017): “Sam Kerridge today has been just unbelievable. Certainly, the best game I’ve seen him play live.”
Tim Lane (2017): “Majak Daw, with the spray from last week still dripping from his face.”
Doug Wade (1983): “It’s not how you say it, it’s how you pronounce it.”
Peter Landy (1986): “The umpire looking longingly at Platten.”
Author: Lawrence Money
Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria’s best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age — and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines — before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.