Mark Thompson has had more than his fair share of challenges and dramas in his career.
He’s been part of five premierships: three as a player at Essendon where he was coached by the best and two at Geelong where he coached that club’s greatest team of all. He exited the game amid the Essendon supplements scandal with unfinished business.
After 34 years ‘at a thousand kilometres an hour’, Thompson has taken the opportunity to reflect on the game that shaped him and to reveal the personal cost of his involvement at the top level. We ride the bumps of the coaches’ box, the boardroom and the press conferences as Mark Thompson handles things his own way. He talks about his mentors, his protégés and contemporaries with insight and candour.
And he reveals the development of what became his trademark as a successful coach: building a team from the ground up to play defence-first accountable footy, with kamikaze ball movement, under a teacher-mentor relationship. This is as good a book about football as you’ll get, from a purist who is not interested in the politics of the AFL. His legacy is some of the greatest footy to be played in the modern era.
Mark Bomber' Thompson played 202 games for Essendon Football Club from 1983 to 1996 under legendary coach Kevin Sheedy. He captained the side for four seasons. Thompson played in three premierships in 1984, 1985 and 1993 alongside some characters and champions in an era where footy was a game, not a brand. After a stint as an assistant coach at Essendon and then at North Melbourne under Denis Pagan, Thompson sold his electrical business and became the senior coach of the Geelong Football Club, where he seized the opportunity to combine his own ideas about footy and management with what he'd learnt from Sheedy and Pagan.
After surviving a major review of his football department in 2006, Thompson coached the greatest team of all to the club's drought-breaking premiership in 2007, then took them to another flag in 2009. In November 2010 he left Geelong, burnt out but leaving the legacy of a winning culture. He returned to Essendon as senior assistant coach to James Hird in 2011, and was then appointed senior coach for the 2014 season when Hird was suspended. He left Essendon at the end of 2014 and is now a panellist on Fox Footy