Essendon pulled the trigger and sacked head coach Ben Rutten less than 24 hours after the club’s season ended. The Bombers lost to Richmond on Saturday night, after which Rutten was seen crying in the locker room. He was signed for the next season, but left with immediate effect.
Following Saturday’s loss, the second-year coach spoke candidly to the media about what was one of the most embarrassing weeks for an AFL club in recent years. Reports surfaced Monday that Rutten would be fired before the 23rd round, then the Bombers publicly pursued free-agent coach Alastair Clarkson, only to lose to him and join North Melbourne.
Bombers senior coach Ben Rutten looks dejected after a loss during the 2022 AFL Round 22 game between the Essendon Bombers and Port Adelaide Power at Marvel Stadium on August 14, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. Rutten was forced to come forward on Friday despite his name making headlines for days, and he bravely led the team on Saturday, knowing it would surely be his last appearance in the colors.
“It has been disappointing. I probably think I deserve better,” he said after the game.
“I think that’s something we need to do as a club, just come together as a whole football club and we need to stick to a plan, put our heads down, cheer and get the job done.”
“I love coaching this football club. I love coaching players. I believe a lot in the gaming group, I believe a lot in my staff and the people who support me.”
“What I saw this week has only given me more confidence in what I’m doing.”
The head of the Firefighters defends the dismissal of the coach. There has been support for James Hird to return to the club and take over the reins. Hird, a Bombers legend, left in disgrace a decade ago, ending his first stint as manager with the infamous doping scandal that brought the club to its knees.
Rutten became Essendon’s sole head coach in 2021 after spending 2020 in a transition period with John Worsfold.
He led the Bombers to the finals last year, but they couldn’t break their long drought and still haven’t won a finals game since 2004.
There were high hopes for the red and black team this season, but they only won seven of 22 games and finished the campaign with terrible losses to the Giants, Power and Tigers.