OPINION: Why former West Perth coach Bill Monaghan deserved better

Bill Monaghan belts out the club song with his players.  Picture: Matt Beilken
Bill Monaghan belts out the club song with his players. Picture: Matt Beilken

INCOMING West Perth coach Geoff Valentine has more in common with his predecessor Bill Monaghan than playing in the 1995 WAFL grand final, albeit on opposite sides.

He starts his WAFL senior coaching career at the Falcons, the same club that gave Monaghan his chance 10 years ago when a club committee selected the former Lions assistant and Dockers development coach from several candidates to follow Todd Curley.

Valentine, who played 37 games across three seasons with West Perth including the ’95 premiership, comes with much promise and excitement.

But his appointment has been overshadowed by the club’s treatment of 2013 premiership coach Monaghan.

Monaghan’s departure after 10 years, seven finals campaigns and three grand finals, has raised more questions than answers.

When long-time coaches in the AFL are getting extensions, why wasn’t he afforded a chance to coach on after asking for a new contract be to put to him?

Telling Monaghan he wasn’t wanted just days after getting West Perth to a grand final, was that any way to repay a coach?

Not telling him the previous board was supposedly seeking another coach, was that the way to thank someone who kept the players focused while the club went into administration with a $790,000 debt before a deal to pay creditors a shameful 4c in the dollar saved the club?

Footy clubs and businesses can be ruthless places, but given the club’s recent financial woes, wasn’t this a chance – especially for the new board – to show transparency, conduct a review of the football department and express why a new coach was being sought long before parting ways with Monaghan and saying the board was looking for a “new style” of coaching.

The voluntary administration under former president Scott Ballem – which angered stalwarts of the club such as former president Colin Rockman – and subsequent treatment of Monaghan has tainted the club and made it a tough entry for Valentine, who now, like new president Neale Fong, will have to unite the club, under pressure to get back to finals.

Not that it has been skin off Monaghan’s nose who has conducted himself throughout the whole ordeal with dignity and refused to be drawn into media comment while accepting the vacant coaching job at East Fremantle.

He probably sensed a few in the club – it’s been reported the football director was instrumental in Monaghan’s removal and that relations were strained with the football operations manager – may have been agitating against him when a new contract was not presented in the lead-up to the finals.

History will show Monaghan, the longest-serving coach at West Perth, as a legend of the club. He deserved a better send-off.

Don’t be surprised if he’s applauded by Falcons supporters in the Whinnen Dempsey stand when he returns to Joondalup Arena in charge of the Sharks next season.

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