End of an error: An oral history of Rodney Eade at the Gold Coast Suns
Superstars looking for the exit, injuries, a culture problem, an over-rated list, and disappointment. Rodney Eade’s time as head coach of the Gold Coast Suns had it all. His time as Gold Coast coach came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as the club attempts to reinvent themselves. Again.
The Gold Coast Suns finally pulled the trigger in the least-anticipated coach firing in recent memory. After weeks of speculation and underperformance, Rodney Eade was fired with three games left of the 2017 season. You could say that the most surprising part of the decision was the timing. However, it was not all doom and gloom for the Suns’ partnership with Eade. It was widely believed that Rodney Eade would lift the Suns into finals contention. However, three years later, the sunshine (pardon the pun), seems like a distant memory for a Gold Coast side who are battling irrelevance.
Chapter one: Gold Coast IV – A new hope
The firing of Guy McKenna
Gold Coast Suns chairman John Witheriff discussing Guy McKenna in the press conference announcing his firing:
“Guy is a man with tremendous values, and he will leave us knowing his legacy is our club’s promising future.
“He has been paramount in installing our club’s values … (by) which our people live by every day.
“The fact that the Gold Coast Suns are now respected by our rivals in the AFL is due in no small part to the contribution Guy has made as our first senior coach.”
Former Sun and prized recruit, Jared Brennan was less diplomatic upon hearing of his former coach’s departure:
So I just heard bluey got the flick….damn, a year late!!! In all seriousness though, 1/2
— Jared Brennan (@JJ_Brennan) October 1, 2014
feel for the players that didn't get the chance to develop and excel because of his stubbornness and one minded ways. 2/2
— Jared Brennan (@JJ_Brennan) October 1, 2014
Gold Coast Suns’ inaugural coach, Guy McKenna shortly after his firing:
“I’m not a fool, but ultimately I’m certainly the supreme optimist… It wasn’t a complete shock. It wasn’t though it took me out of the blue.”
“Footy is a brutal industry. I get that.
“In the board and the chairman’s view, I’m not that person to take us forward. I’m certainly disappointed with that result of course because I think I am. Unfortunately, I don’t get an opportunity to prove the board wrong.
“It’s been a privilege to have coached this club for six years … I’ll be looking on with great pride next season knowing that I had some part to play in the growth and development of the boys.
“I think the playing group is ready to certainly explode into the AFL like we started to show early part of this season.’’
The search for a new coach, and hiring of Eade
John Witheriff answering speculation about Mark Thompson taking over McKenna as the coach:
“I haven’t spoken to Bomber Thompson; there has been no-one from the Gold Coast Suns speak to Bomber Thompson,”
Chapter two: Mission impossible
Battle for relevance
AFL legend, Leigh Matthews on the state of footy in Queensland:
Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane answering calls to the relevance and need of the Gold Coast Suns:
“People love winners… We’ve got to stand up for ourselves a bit. We can’t take these criticisms and snide remarks.
“We’ve got to bat it back and not be shy about it. We’re here to stay.
“We want to be successful. We want to be an aspirational club that not only the Gold Coast are proud of, but the AFL community are proud of.”
Rodney Eade about Gold Coast’s finals prospects in 2015:
“I think still a couple of years away at least, no doubt.”
Inaugrial Captain and club champion, Gary Ablett’s trade talk
Suns’ General Manager of football, Marcus Ashcroft in a statement confirming Ablett’s trade request:
“The club regularly has private conversations with players and their managers.
“Our discussions with Gary were no different. But following recent media reports, Gary and the club have agreed it’s in everyone’s best interests to be as transparent as possible in regards to his end of year meeting.
“At the end of the season, and well before the exchange period, Gary asked a question relating to the possibility of him returning to Geelong. The club’s response was an emphatic no. An answer Gary both accepted and understood.”
Geelong Cats’ head of football, Steve Hocking discussing Gary Ablett’s trade request at the end of last season:
“Gold Coast was very clear on the fact he was their player and will continue to be their player,”
“Under Rodney Eade, the partying has stopped and the adherence to professional standards improved… But the spirit is still missing.”
“It is 2014 all over again.”
Episode three: Back to the future
Suns chairman Tony Cochrane on the Rodney Eade firing:
“He was very dignified last night, obviously disappointed. He said he didn’t agree with the decision but accepted the reality of that.
“We’re a better club for having had Rodney here at the Gold Coast Suns.”
Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans after the Rodney Eade firing:
“It is a simple as wins and losses. At the end of the day, I’m on the record that at the start of this year we had a very strong belief we would challenge for the top eight and we simply have failed.
“We are simply in the same position, if we are being honest, that we were three years ago and that is not good enough for our board.
“Our board duly considered this, they spent hours on this yesterday afternoon, and to a person, we reached a unanimous decision that it doesn’t matter how we assess it, the win-loss ratio is not what we want it to be, not even close.’’
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