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BRETT GEEVES: ‘Begging for freebies is not leadership’


Sacking/having David Noble communicate to the media a mutual parting of ways was the coward’s play by North Melbourne.

Worse is that the North Melbourne executive needed to hide behind a half complete review they sold as external, but clearly came from within, with the former CEO, football department boss, and long-time friend to the executive, given the all-access lanyard for gathering of intel to sink the leader of the football department, and definitely not the board, the CEO, or anyone else responsible for the club-wide muck David Noble walked into when replacing the previous coach, Rhys Shaw, who led for 29 games.

Remarkably, David Noble got the chance to coach only nine more games than Rhys Shaw. 38 is an outrage! I wonder what the director of the coaches association thinks of that.

At the completion of round 18 in 2006, the man being spoken about as the greatest coach of all time, and the man who will now have North CEO Ben Amarfio offering to cook him breakfast as he hunts his signature on a head coaching contract, Alistair Clarkson, held a coaching record of 10 wins and 30 losses across his first 40 games?

Round 18 in 2006 was also the end of a 13-game stretch where Hawthorn threw up one win and 12 losses, with a losing average margin of 45 points.

Can you imagine if Hawthorn sacked their rookie coach, Alistair Clarkson, with four games to go in 2006?

Dynasty No More.

Reminder: there is no quick fix here. But after hearing how Amarfio spoke about the priority pick yesterday, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the priority pick was an established midfield of Hodge, Lewis, Mitchell and a forward pairing of Franklin and Roughead.

“Do we need more talent? Absolutely. Are we going to be aggressive in acquiring more talent? Yes, we will, we’ll have real crack. We’ll go to the AFL – and we‘ve already started informal conversations – about mechanisms to bring more talent into the club through priority picks and such.”

David Noble, Senior Coach of the Kangaroos and CEO, Ben Amarfio share a laugh during a North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL Media Opportunity at Arden Street Ground on November 19, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

David Noble, Senior Coach of the Kangaroos and CEO, Ben Amarfio … in happier times. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

That’s right. North will have a real crack – not by establishing a strong culture, or by implementing strong list management strategies, or trade targets with character traits that fit with David Noble’s cultural style – nope – that talent is coming through the door by begging the AFL for some freebies that will take five years to develop into winning footballers.

This is truly concerning. Begging for freebies is not leadership and shows a clear lack of understanding as to how the football world operates. Priority picks are not a reward. They are an acknowledgment you’ve hit the very lowest of lows and definitely should not be spoken about as a gold star for talent recruitment on a day you’ve sacked/had your coach communicate a mutual parting of ways.

North Melbourne seemed to have quickly forgotten why they appointed Noble to be their re-build coaching leader. They would have known he hadn’t been a head coach since the mid 90s when he led the NSW/ACT Rams – an Under 18 team?

He’s a culture guy.

Noble is one of the most respected figures in the game. He was a long-time assistant coach with the Bulldogs and the Crows. It was in Adelaide where he made his mark as a senior leader progressing into list management and then the head of football role that saw him in charge of the program as the club navigated the tragic passing of Phil Walsh. Ten years at the club, eight years of finals representation.

But it was his work in Brisbane, where he was tasked with the ultimate rebuild alongside fellow Tasmanian, Chris Fagan, that provided the football stamp on his legacy as the man to establish strong cultural ties to behaviours, expectations, list profile and identification of the type of personalities required to make that transition from club irrelevance to being talked about as a premiership threat.

So, when Noble went nuts at the North Melbourne playing group for displaying a lack of all of the above in a 108-point loss to Noble’s cultural yardstick Brisbane, the team he created, it should have been a clear sign to the North Melbourne executive, and list management team, that they didn’t have the list profile or the personality profile willing to offset their lack of skill with the type of attributes that lend themselves to winning culture.

Noble’s spray highlights his identification in the lack of fight, desire, hunger, pride, and team first approach required to remain competitive for extended periods against teams who have all that… and some element of skill.

The fact he had to apologise for this, through the tears of the players, only highlights with a strong sense of clarity that this isn’t a Noble problem.

SEN and The Age reported the Kangaroos moved on Noble after strong and concerning feedback was collected during the early stages of Walsh’s review. Both publications suggested some players made it clear they’d seriously “consider their futures” at the club if Noble remained at the helm.

You know what? Sometimes you lose the right people. And David Noble’s approach is proven to be impeccable at identifying, and managing, those types of athletes into winning, team-first environments.

If there was any modicum of executive leadership at North Melbourne, they would have stood by Noble and his proven experience as an expert in winning cultures by supporting him through the process of escorting those players to another team via draft equity or in exchange for personalities willing to buy-into the messaging of the man whose strengths in building winning culture were acknowledged, and rewarded, 18 months ago.

And sure, if that meant Jason Horne Francis was shipped to Adelaide in exchange for a handful of crackers, then that’s how it must be.

By cowering to the demands of the players, it doesn’t matter which coach North Melbourne bring in, the playing group is now empowered, entitled, and has been gifted by the board an unhealthily low behavioural/accountability standard.

It’s now Clarkson, beg to relocate to Tassie under Eddie’s plan, or bust for the Roos.

Sacking/having David Noble communicate to the media a mutual parting of ways was the coward’s play by North Melbourne.

Worse is that the North Melbourne executive needed to hide behind a half complete review they sold as external, but clearly came from within, with the former CEO, football department boss, and long-time friend to the executive, given the all-access lanyard for gathering of intel to sink the leader of the football department, and definitely not the board, the CEO, or anyone else responsible for the club-wide muck David Noble walked into when replacing the previous coach, Rhys Shaw, who led for 29 games.

Remarkably, David Noble got the chance to coach only nine more games than Rhys Shaw. 38 is an outrage! I wonder what the director of the coach’s association thinks of that.

At the completion of round 18 in 2006, the man being spoken about as the greatest coach of all time, and the man who will now have North CEO Ben Amarfio offering to cook him breakfast as he hunts his signature on a head coaching contract, Alistair Clarkson, held a coaching record of 10 wins and 30 losses across his first 40 games?

Round 18 in 2006 was also the end of a 13-game stretch where Hawthorn threw up one win and 12 losses, with a losing average margin of 45 points.

Can you imagine if Hawthorn sacked their rookie coach, Alistair Clarkson, with four games to go in 2006?

Dynasty No More.

Reminder: there is no quick fix here. But after hearing how Amarfio spoke about the priority pick yesterday, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the priority pick was an established midfield of Hodge, Lewis, Mitchell and a forward pairing of Franklin and Roughead.

“Do we need more talent? Absolutely. Are we going to be aggressive in acquiring more talent? Yes, we will, we’ll have real crack. We’ll go to the AFL – and we‘ve already started informal conversations – about mechanisms to bring more talent into the club through priority picks and such.”

That’s right. North will have a real crack – not by establishing a strong culture, or by implementing strong list management strategies, or trade targets with character traits that fit with David Noble’s cultural style – nope – that talent is coming through the door by begging the AFL for some freebies that will take five years to develop into winning footballers.

This is truly concerning. Begging for freebies is not leadership and shows a clear lack of understanding as to how the football world operates. Priority picks are not a reward. They are an acknowledgment you’ve hit the very lowest of lows and definitely should not be spoken about as a gold star for talent recruitment on a day you’ve sacked/had your coach communicate a mutual parting of ways.

North Melbourne seemed to have quickly forgotten why they appointed Noble to be their re-build coaching leader. They would have known he hadn’t been a head coach since the mid 90s when he led the NSW/ACT Rams – an Under 18 team?

He’s a culture guy.

Noble is one of the most respected figures in the game. He was a long-time assistant coach with the Bulldogs and the Crows. It was in Adelaide where he made his mark as a senior leader progressing into list management and then the head of football role that saw him in charge of the program as the club navigated the tragic passing of Phil Walsh. Ten years at the club, eight years of finals representation.

David Noble, Senior Coach of the Kangaroos addresses his players during the 2022 AFL Round 07 match between the Carlton Blues and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on April 30, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

But it was his work in Brisbane, where he was tasked with the ultimate rebuild alongside fellow Tasmanian, Chris Fagan, that provided the football stamp on his legacy as the man to establish strong cultural ties to behaviours, expectations, list profile and identification of the type of personalities required to make that transition from club irrelevance to being talked about as a premiership threat.

So, when Noble went nuts at the North Melbourne playing group for displaying a lack of all of the above in a 108-point loss to Noble’s cultural yardstick Brisbane, the team he created, it should have been a clear sign to the North Melbourne executive, and list management team, that they didn’t have the list profile or the personality profile willing to offset their lack of skill with the type of attributes that lend themselves to winning culture.

Noble’s spray highlights his identification in the lack of fight, desire, hunger, pride, and team first approach required to remain competitive for extended periods against teams who have all that… and some element of skill.

The fact he had to apologise for this, through the tears of the players, only highlights with a strong sense of clarity that this isn’t a Noble problem.

SEN and The Age reported the Kangaroos moved on Noble after strong and concerning feedback was collected during the early stages of Walsh’s review. Both publications suggested some players made it clear they’d seriously “consider their futures” at the club if Noble remained at the helm.

You know what? Sometimes you lose the right people. And David Noble’s approach is proven to be impeccable at identifying, and managing, those types of athletes into winning, team-first environments.

If there was any modicum of executive leadership at North Melbourne, they would have stood by Noble and his proven experience as an expert in winning cultures by supporting him through the process of escorting those players to another team via draft equity or in exchange for personalities willing to buy-into the messaging of the man whose strengths in building winning culture were acknowledged, and rewarded, 18 months ago.

And sure, if that meant Jason Horne Francis was shipped to Adelaide in exchange for a handful of crackers, then that’s how it must be.

By cowering to the demands of the players, it doesn’t matter which coach North Melbourne bring in, the playing group is now empowered, entitled, and has been gifted by the board an unhealthily low behavioural/accountability standard.

It’s now Clarkson, beg to relocate to Tassie under Eddie’s plan, or bust for the Roos.





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