In Mark Harvey I essentially saw the makings of a very good coach equally as important was the fact he seemed to be the right fit for a club well practiced in the relative comfort of rebuilding and waxing lyrical about the future. Harvey only ever talked about the present and closing the gap that existed in being a good side, even when he rebuilt the team from the ground up in 2008, from the day he went to the board and said, “its time and we need to start now before the compromised drafts of the future kick in”, Harvey never sought a crutch to lean on.
Another reason I had high regard for him was the fact he was not only tough but old school, for some of us forty something’s the way he spoke, his values and his understated mannerism was a nice throw back to a very different game. He was not the perfect coach. His obsession with hardness contributed to an unmanageable list of injuries, he did not seem to get on well with the medicos perhaps resentful of their authority, I have no doubt he would have viewed them as private school Wowsers protecting players who had to learn to play with pain. And only the senior players can tell you what their relationship was like with him, though it was interesting that a no-nonsense, genuine bloke like Aaron Sandilands called Harvey, “the best coach he had ever played for” after his sacking. I guess he figured if anyone down at the club had a problem with him saying that they could take it up with him in private.
In any case, after a miserable year Mark Harvey was sacked. Shot in the back of the head at close range. I still don’t understand why and even the most excited person about Ross Lyon can’t really tell me why either, muttering stuff about how Harvey was never going to win us a flag. New coaches and new players bring excitement and hope to clubs on the back of heart breaking years. And the masses are excited about “Rosco”, they like the fact he’s a disciplinarian, a tactician, a mentor, a polished public speaker and a grand final coach. Truth is they like the fact he is not Mark Harvey. He is not representative of the heartbreak and frustration of last year.
When Harvey broke from his re-build policy to recruit Mitch Clarke it was in a bid to deal with the now, when you trade for a 23 year old All Australian you ultimately always pay more than what you get, and that’s ok, the point is you get it now. With this wonderful list that had been developed under Harvey as head coach he saw a missing piece of the puzzle in Mitch Clarke. He also understood that Fremantle’s three best players would only be at their best for another two years, maximum. And the other 14 players who have played more than 50 games were of extremely high quality. Now was the time. No more patience, no more journeys. Pay day 2012. Mark Harvey got sacked.
Look at any organization; football clubs, mining companies, charities…….all go about their business in different ways, the one constant a successful organization possesses is the development of its people. Organizations that seek to improve and build on what they have keep getting better and developing and the ones that constantly throw things out simply keep changing, basking in the glow of all the thrills short term changes gives, excitement, hope, expectation…………but you know what I mean. Next time you go for a job and you are not sure about your employer ask how they go about developing their people. If they toss out some tripe about not wanting staff with weaknesses or say we’ll just get someone better – best you don’t go there. Unless you find yourself in the cut throat advertising industry that is, where this stuff is par for the course.
I’d ask you go back and think about what Fremantle coaches, presidents and CEO’s have told you over the past decade and a half, what they have preached to you in this time. They weren’t lying to you in giving you hope, they were doing their job. They knew they didn’t have the tools to deliver on the present so of course you move to the future. As frustrating as it was you knew that’s all there was so we all believed.
Mark Harvey has walked out the door of this club leaving it in infinitely better shape than when he first walked through it. Unprecedented shape. Which kind of brings me to the point of this blog, maybe you love the club's new colours, it's new logo, the new way its executives speak, and maybe you love being told when to cheer, reading kids’ tweets on the scoreboards during the game and maybe you love the fact we were able to snare a high profile Victorian coach to our humble little abode. Maybe all of this signifies a changed culture; a removal from the mediocrity accepting times of the past. But if you are going to sit there gushing about Ross Lyon when he trots out lines from Tony Robbins’ seminars and saying how things are going to be different now, please don’t tell me in the next breath that we are going to have to be patient and that future success is on the horizon.
I’ve heard it all before, it’s accepting of mediocrity.