A Divisive Figure


It has been common following latest developments in the tragedy of James Hird to preface any discussion with the acknowledgement that he is a ‘divisive figure’. Many have rushed to point out that whether you ‘love him, or hate him’, you should have the decency to look beyond his ‘mistakes’ and treat him as a human being.

Such comments, while superficially appearing to be well meaning, only further entrench the misconceptions that have created the predicament in which Hird currently finds himself.

Hird is not a ‘divisive figure’, at least not under any reasonable assessment of the facts. Sure there will be many who hate his mere existence – probably jealous Collingwood or Hawthorn supporters, but in direct relation to The Saga negative opinions of James Hird are wholly without merit, as are the casual allusions to his ‘mistakes’ as though they were mere mundane facts that couldn’t possibly be contested.

It was decided from the very beginning that Hird would be sacrificed ‘for the greater good of the game’. His only crime was to have integrity and to stand up: for himself, for his players, for his club, for the truth, and to challenge those who foolishly sought to orchestrate an outcome over which they never had any control.

When a desperate AFL House deployed vile propaganda to finally force Hird into submission and accept an unjust punishment, he agreed to nothing. He didn’t plead guilty, for there was nothing of which he could be guilty, so instead he pleaded ‘present’.

Hird’s irrelevance to the supplements program was supported by all lines of evidence, and as such he was not pursued in any of the anti-doping cases: not by the AFL, not by ASADA, and not by WADA.

Furthermore, it is acknowledged that Hird’s role within the club meant that he was not ‘in the top 20 or 30 people’ responsible for the program. He was not a sports scientist. He was not a chemist nor a doctor nor a medical expert. He wasn’t even in the high performance department. He didn’t hire the staff. He didn’t write the cheques. He possessed no technical knowledge nor direct input into the program or the substances. In short, he lacked the authority and the expertise to ever be the evil mastermind of a doping regime that he was portrayed to be. Yet despite all this he became the convenient high-profile face to the saga.

Of those more responsible, some received cushy appointments and business opportunities, others lavish payouts, while yet more disappeared silently into the night. None were punished, with the exception of Stephen Dank, who was only ever adjudged guilty for deeds outside of his work at Essendon.

Hird’s perceived evils are confined to grossly misinformed public opinion, directed by AFL House and its dishonest, or plain incompetent, media contingent.

To constantly speak of Hird’s failings, or advance the notion that hating him is a perfectly reasonable position for one to hold, is to reinforce the public ignorance that must be corrected to restore Hird’s mental well being.

There is a vital distinction between typical mental health issues, that can affect anyone at any time and seemingly without cause, and finally crumbling under the weight of a coordinated and sustained campaign to destroy one’s life that has endured for four years and counting.

A great man; honest, loyal and caring to a fault, a champion on and off field, has been discarded, ostracised, vilified and abandoned by those he once counted as friends and colleagues. His once impeccable reputation has been destroyed without cause, or a shred of remorse from the perpetrators (or their spineless colleagues who claim to be better but consistently failed to hold their peers to account). Hird has been exiled from his profession, passion and livelihood. He has lost connection with his club that has been his life since birth. And throughout the entire ordeal worthless parasites masquerading as professionals have been camped on his front lawn harassing the man and his family in a shameful practice that has persisted even after Hird’s hospitalisation.

There are some within football who will not be satisfied until James Hird is dead, and they may get their wish. Mental health is fragile and once fractured sometimes it may never be fully restored. Perhaps his issues can be treated, but the answer is not drugs, or therapy. In this particular case, the factors in his decline are entirely environmental. To restore Hird’s health his persecution must cease, and that starts by apologising and correcting the public record, not by pretending to care while reinforcing the cause.

James Hird

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  1. #1 by sajana on January 10, 2017 - 8:47 pm

    Im so sad that he felt this need but he more guts that you never know… he may still wish he were…l only hope that people do stand by him because he and his Family have this to deal with this now as well. They broke you totally ..May god give you the strength to get well and through this.. James

    Like

  2. #2 by Carolyne Armstrong on January 10, 2017 - 9:49 pm

    I do not follow football at all but all the way along I have felt shame the way he has been treated but all he worked so hard for. I cannot get over people who are still making unjust comments Even today.

    Like

  3. #3 by Robin Murphy on January 10, 2017 - 9:57 pm

    You are not alone James there are a lot of people including me who believe in you and wish this terrible ordeal had never happened
    .you are strong and very much loved so please hang on. God and all those praying for you will get you through and your families love will always be there for you .

    Like

  4. #4 by M Bond on January 10, 2017 - 10:55 pm

    I’m a Magpies fan and I believe the Essendon FC, the AFL, ASADA and the media should all hang their heads in shame for what they’ve done to this blameless man. It’s an absolute disgrace.

    Essendon FC Management should all be charged with harassment.
    Why would anyone want to be involved with that club when this is how they treat their legends? They’re gutless cowards to use him as their scapegoat to save their own guilty hides. Despicable!

    Sending best wishes to James and his family.
    Hang tough Hirdy – you’re a better man than all of them!

    Like

  5. #5 by Sonia Cant on January 10, 2017 - 11:40 pm

    James hird, hold your head high, you are a great man, father, husband and friend to many. There are real assholes out there who deserve persicution, not you. Be kind to yourself xx

    Like

  6. #6 by Jennifer Roebuck on January 11, 2017 - 12:10 am

    James IS a great Essendon football player a great part of our Essendon football club, he always has been and he always will be. He has been made a scape goat in the substance saga and I have been an Essendon supporter my entire life for some 50 odd years and cannot believe how he has and is being treated by that team I have loved for so long. James I only wish you good luck and a speedy recovery.

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  7. #7 by Lois on January 11, 2017 - 12:54 am

    It’s alwYs the way, the Chiefs never have to pay for mistakes, James wasn’t the only one involved but many more behind the scenes and perhaps more knowledge and authority than James. Don’t forget it’s only a game . This man will never be the same, I wish him well. One last thing, perhaps there are more incidents like this that haven’t come to life.?

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  8. #8 by Angela Johnson on January 11, 2017 - 1:34 am

    It is interesting to note that the AFL quickly jumped in to declare that they would help Ben Cousins recently…A man who neither needs nor requires help with his self inflicted drugs problems, yet there was complete silence from all AFL leaders when we heard the sad news regarding James Hirds overdose.. I have been a football fan for 60+ years and although I follow Hawthorn, I always like to know how all teams are progressing.. James was used by the AFL ans ASADA as a scape goat as were all the players involved and it is time they stood up and admitted their own mistakes..I do not like the current way football is going and would like nothing better than to see the AFL board disbanded and let the teams and players get back to what they do best…Play football…

    Like

  9. #9 by Natalie edgar on January 11, 2017 - 8:52 am

    You will always be my hero james get well and only worry about you and your family People can be so cruel and judging xx❤

    Like

  10. #10 by Spur on January 11, 2017 - 3:39 pm

    I wish Hird the best in his recovery, but this article is absolute fantasy.

    Like

  11. #11 by Jason Kennedy on January 12, 2017 - 12:54 am

    Was this written by James Hird? As someone who admired him during his playing days I was revolted by the part he played in the supplement saga. Too many unanswered questions, players hung out to dry, arrogant, unapologetic reactions from senior club members. Is Danks a martyr as well? If the management of the club had admitted from the outset that injecting unknown substances into players was immoral and suspect, if the club had done a “mea culpa” and taken the relatively light initial penalties, the whole thing would have been done and dusted many years ago. Our whole judicial system has rejected the club’s arguments, not just the whipping boys at the AFL. One reaps what one sows.

    Like

  12. #12 by FuckU2 on February 24, 2017 - 5:28 pm

    *

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  13. #13 by Phil Walshe on March 19, 2017 - 7:26 am

    The AFL had to save the “brand” no matter what the cost, In this case a rich Club and decent men within that club and in particular James Hird who was completetely and utterly nailed to a cross for the ghouls to make fun. ASADA was desperate for a kill because of the millions squandered and no results. WADA was coerced by ASADA to achieve the result. In the end it was like war. The troops get slaughtered, the “High Ups” and “not so high ups” go on without shedding a tear.
    Any shred of decency is lost and for one reason. “The Darkest Day in Sporting history”
    A tragedy that was orchestrated without the right of “common law” or common decency.
    Any organisation which has to power to destroy decent men and organisations without a shred of “common law” evidence should be closed down immediately and the people who allowed that organisation to exist in the first place should take a good long look at themselves and then say ” shame on you”.

    Like

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