Sport AFL James Hird on the short list for a surprising new AFL job with the Dockers
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James Hird on the short list for a surprising new AFL job with the Dockers

James Hird Essendon
Hird coached 84 matches for the Bombers. Photo: Getty
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Former Essendon coach James Hird is in the running for a new job at AFL club Fremantle, the Dockers have confirmed.

Hird – a star player for the Bombers during a decorated 253-game career – could not repeat his heroics in the coaches’ box in what was an ill-fated time in charge of the club.

He coached Essendon over the 2011-13 seasons before being suspended for a year for his role in the club’s controversial supplements program.

And although he returned as coach in 2015, Hird was effectively sacked later that year following poor on-field form.

The 45-year-old has largely been in the football wilderness ever since and admitted last year he overdosed on sleeping pills after hitting “breaking point” following “years of continual stress”.

Hird could be about to return to football, though, after media reports linking him with a role at Fremantle were confirmed by the Dockers on Friday afternoon (AEDT).

“The Fremantle Football Club can confirm that James Hird is one of a number of potential candidates to fill a part-time role at the club,” a Dockers statement said.

General manager of football operations, Chris Bond, added: “The club is going through a process to potentially appoint a part-time opposition analyst based in Melbourne.

“We are in the early stages of considering a number of possible candidates and that process has not yet been completed.”

According to AFL Media, “the AFL confirmed Fremantle had contacted the league to check hiring that Hird would be okay”.

The AFL reportedly told Fremantle “Hird had already returned to the game” following his suspension, referring to the 2015 season.

James Hird Dustin Martin
Martin inspired Richmond as they ended a 37-year premiership drought. Photo: Getty

Hird was also at the MCG on Grand Final day last year, presenting the Norm Smith Medal to Richmond star Dustin Martin.

‘That would be unreal’

Fremantle star Nathan Fyfe – often compared to Hird for the pair’s similar style of play – told reporters on Friday that he would love it if Hird joined the club.

But Fyfe added that he was unaware of the reports.

“Is that right? That would be great. This is literally the first I’m hearing of it,” Fyfe said.

“He’s an idol of mine and that would be unreal.

“But I can’t really comment because you’re breaking the news to me now.

“Why I loved James Hird as a player? Because he was a gun, he impacted at big moments.

“But me commenting on him potentially being a coach wouldn’t be appropriate at this time.”

Since leaving the Bombers, Hird’s public appearances have been fleeting but included a failed bid to make an insurance company pay his legal bills during the supplements saga.

The cost was in the region of $600,000.

Hird also took to radio to promote his chocolate business, Cacao Hunters, last year.

“I didn’t think I would be selling chocolate,” Hird told Joy 94.9 FM.

“I was a football coach two years ago … last thing [I thought] I would be doing.”

The fair-trade business says its “story is of amazing chocolate [the best in the world] but also a great social conscience story about a country and its people who have had a natural resource in Cacao, but because of the narcotics trade, have not been able to access the best plants or create a free and independent livelihood.”

The brand’s “Arhuacos” chocolate has won gold medals at the International Chocolate Awards for “two years running”.

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