Former Geelong and Essendon coach Mark Thompson had a big fall from grace. Picture: Mark Dadswell
Former Geelong and Essendon coach Mark Thompson had a big fall from grace. Picture: Mark Dadswell

Cats asked AFL coach: are you on drugs

GEELONG chief executive Brian Cook has lifted the lid on Mark "Bomber" Thompson's fall from grace during his time at the helm of the Cats.

Thompson began his senior coaching career with Geelong in 2000 and guided the club to premierships in 2007 and 2009.

But a marriage breakdown, an anxiety-riddled property deal and a cloak-and-dagger approach from his former club Essendon combined to produce some worryingly erratic behaviour in Thompson towards the end of his decade-long reign at the Cats.

"Yeah, probably - I think that probably is the time where he was most vulnerable, behaviourally," Cook said on Damian Barrett's In The Game podcast.

"It is a difficult issue. When you identify employees who aren't performing at their best for a period of time, it could be anything.

"Early intervention is really important, and we tried to do that at the end of '06, start of '07'.

"The thing about intervention is that you need people's support, not just the person you are dealing with in terms of their behaviour, but people around them because the matter could get worse if it is so erratic."

Cook said had been nigh impossible to get open and honest with Thompson, saying he "just doesn't give".

"I think we got to a stage where we were really open with Mark, but it was difficult to get a response," he said.

"He was the type of guy who was self-made and he didn't necessarily want to rely on other people, or give them his problems, and he didn't want to talk about any of the issues he had, so it was difficult, it was really difficult.

"We were trying to create an open and genuine environment for Mark and whatever it was, but we never got to that stage."

Mark Thompson and Tom Harley show off the premiership cup.
Mark Thompson and Tom Harley show off the premiership cup.

"It was a tough time, it really was, and what you do in the end was what the people are saying to you.

"On reflection, was I naive? Yeah, maybe there was a part of that. But by and large they were good people we were dealing with, including Mark Thompson, and I believed they were telling me the truth.

"We asked Mark questions and he would tell us what we believed to be the truth."

Cook even admitted questioning the former coach's alleged drug use.

"I did, yes. But I don't want to go into that. Sorry mate. I think that is a personal thing. People were talking about it and the question had to be asked," he said.

Cook's comments came after former AFL coach Grant Thomas claimed tough questions should be asked of Geelong for failing to address Thompson's demons before his departure from the club in 2010.

Former Cats president Frank Costa had earlier admitted he noticed Thompson's life began to unravel towards the end of his Cats coaching tenure, as early as 2009.

"I saw it (erratic behaviour) towards the finish at Geelong, in 2010, and more since," Costa told AFL.com.au.

"I think that's happened because his mind has been badly scrambled. I think those three things that I mentioned that happened to him in 2010 were too much for him."

News Corp Australia

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