Being named senior coach of the Melbourne Football Club in 2008 must
have seemed like the high point of Dean Bailey's career in Australian
rules football. After a solid but undistinguished playing career, Bailey
built a reputation as one of the game's first and best
player-development coaches, making important contributions to
premiership teams in 2000 (Essendon) and 2004 (Port Adelaide). A fellow
coach at Essendon later said he "did the work that you see done by six
people at an AFL club today" to mentor
young players and hone their skills. Taking over the sad-sack Melbourne
team in mid-rebuild, for his first head-coaching job, promised a
high-profile opportunity for Bailey to show off his talents.
However, the club's management had different ideas. After a last-place
finish in 2008, club executives, mindful that continuing poor
performance would result in coveted high picks in the next year's player
draft, ordered Bailey to tank the 2009 season, and Bailey complied,
sitting key players or playing them out of position throughout the
season. The plan worked—Melbourne ended up with both the #1 and #2 picks
in the next draft—and the team made incremental improvements over the
next two years, but after an especially humiliating loss at the end of
the 2011 season, Bailey was sacked anyway. A subsequent league
investigation cleared him of specific tanking allegations but suspended
him for 16 games (by then he'd moved on to be the
strategy-and-innovation coach at Adelaide) for acting "in a manner
prejudicial to the interests of the AFL."
To add injury to
insult, shortly after his return from suspension, Bailey was diagnosed
with terminal lung cancer. He died on March 11 at age 47. Philip gets 23
points for the hit (18 points for hit + 5 points for solo).
(c) 2005-2014 alt.obituaries Deadpool. All rights reserved.