Sport AFL Thompson calls on Bombers to rebuild
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Thompson calls on Bombers to rebuild

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Interim Essendon coach Mark Thompson has urged the embattled AFL club to move on from their supplements scandal and rebuild.

The crisis dominated Monday night’s club annual general meeting, which banned coach James Hird attended without making any comment.

Members remain furious at the AFL and one unsuccessfully sought a vote of no confidence against league chief executive Andrew Demetriou.

Chairman Paul Little also angrily denounced outgoing world anti-doping boss John Fahey for saying charges were coming over the controversy.

The Bombers boss continues to be confident that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority will not lay any charges over Essendon’s 2011-12 supplements program.

Thompson will coach Essendon until Hird’s suspension ends in August next season.

“We really should be trying very, very hard to just go forward and concentrate on 2014, ’15 and ’16 and rebuild this club into a great club that is once was,” Thompson said in his speech at the AGM.

Thompson coached Geelong to two premierships before he joined Hird at Essendon.

Essendon withstood massive pressure this season to make the top eight, but the AFL’s penalties over the scandal included kicking them out of the finals as well as suspending Hird.

Thompson remains confident Essendon are on the right track.

“Let’s just be really tight and grow this football club again, because it has been damaged and it’s not good enough,” he said.

“We’re committed to rebuilding and being part of something great.

“Nothing much will change – I know the system, I know how to coach and I’m just going to fill the seat for a little bit.

“We’ve had three years of improvement … not that we’ve done everything right, but there have been a lot of things we have done right.”

Meanwhile, Little said Essendon remain very confident they would have successfully defended an AFL charge of administering performance-enhancing drugs to the players.

Essendon were ready to go to court, but negotiated a settlement with the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute.

“We were very confident – and remain confident today – that we could have fought the charge of … taking performance enhancing drugs,” he said.

“That was something we were ready to force home as hard and for as long and painful as it would have been for us.”