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Wednesday WAFL: Coaching chaos creates climate for change

John Townsend

“Perth football club met with senior coach Garry Moss this morning, where he was informed that the club would not extend his contract beyond 2022. The club (will) go to the open market and undertake a thorough process in appointing the best available coach.

“Garry was strongly encouraged to be a part of the process, but after due consideration, he has advised the club that he will not take part in the process and has stood down effective immediately.”

If there is any doubt over Perth’s inability to grasp the way the football world operates, those couple of paragraphs on the club website should clarify the issue.

Having effectively sacked coach Garry Moss this week, the Demons then encouraged him to either re-apply for the job or help find his replacement.

And they then announced to the world that they had added a pile of salt to Moss’s wounds.

Essendon’s hierarchy has been justifiably pilloried for Ben Rutten’s inept and disrespectful removal but at least that group of red and black bunglers allowed the departing coach to retain a little of his dignity.

Not so Perth who obviously expected that Moss would think so little of being directed to the exit door that he wouldn’t bother passing through it.

His exit should come as no surprise.

The only guarantee a football coach has is that his departure is not likely to be on a day of his own choosing.

And after just seven wins from 33 matches in charge, Moss surely knew that fateful day was fast approaching.

Whether Moss can coach is a moot point but there is no question that a mediocre club culture, arid development zones, poor recruiting, unrealistic expectations and questionable leadership have contributed to Perth’s current plight.

This is a club that is too easily pleased yet too often found wanting.

No wonder they have not won a final for 25 years during which time every other WAFL club – apart from the West Coast reserves – have won a flag.

Perth’s timing is, accidently, atrocious given that East Perth moved on their coach Jeremy Barnard on the same day to ensure an arms race to secure the best replacement.

Barnard was also treated harshly but at least the East Perth decision-makers had four seasons and 60 games to assess their coach.

The ambitious Royals expected Barnard to steer them to finals this season only for their advance to be thwarted by Sebit Kuek’s disastrous mid-season departure to the Peel reserves team and the continued failure of the club’s most high-profile and mostly controversial recruits to lead the on-field improvement.

Like Perth, East Perth have recruited players unwilling or unable to make a difference to the team.

Michael Randall was recruited with a two-year suspension hanging over him and might have to serve the whole sentence while former AFL-listed players Jono Freeman, Elijah Taylor and Gordon Narrier have been busts.

The major element going for East Perth’s new coach is that a cohort of young talent such as Tom Graham, the Sparks brothers, Mitch Schofield and Sam van Diemen is waiting to be honed into effective league players while teenagers Reuben Ginbey, Jedd Busslinger and Kade Dittmar promise considerable WAFL value on the off chance they are overlooked by AFL spotters.

Both clubs may well consider seasoned veterans like Peter German, Peter Sumich, Cam Shepherd or Steve Malaxos but they will also cast an eye over highly-credentialled assistant Ross McQueen, who will take charge of the Royals for the rest of the year, and Steve Armstrong, who will do the same job at the Demons.

But there are other prospects. Anthony Rock has been interested previously and is at North Fremantle this season after a long period in the AFL, Kyal Horsley is a natural leader who is doing an apprenticeship at West Coast and dual South Fremantle premiership player Craig White has had considerable success at Wesley-Curtin.

And don’t discount Northam stalwart Jermaine Davis who has built a splendid reputation in country football as a sharp and inspiring coach.

Davis contributed to Perth’s last successful era and played in the club’s most recent win in a final.

He might not be the most high-profile candidate on Perth’s list of candidates, that is if the club actually has a list, but maybe the Demons need to look backwards to go forwards?

Wednesday hero: Lachlan Delahunty has won a Sandover Medal, five premierships and universal respect after a stellar career at Subiaco. He joined the club in 2013 when they were second bottom and was a major reason that the Lions played in seven of the next eight grand finals and become a league powerhouse.

Dela will make his final appearance on Saturday alongside his great mate Leigh Kitchin, who will celebrate his 150th match, before retiring to concentrate on his expanding property career and, remarkably, become a fly-in fly-out player in Melbourne’s lucrative club football scene. Well played, Dela.

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