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AFL "thugs" scapegoated my son, says Allan Hird

Football

James Hird's father Allan says there were no signs his son was on a path to ill-health despite accusing AFL and Essendon administrators of pursuing him as a scapegoat.

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Allan Hird said AFL officials were “thugs” and “bullies” without a “moral compass” for their treatment of his son in the aftermath of Essendon’s supplement scandal.

Hird, who himself played four games for Essendon in the VFL, would not reveal his son’s whereabouts amid reports he is receiving treatment at an undisclosed health facility.

But he said James Hird was recovering well after being hospitalised for a suspected overdose last week.

“He’s fine. My daughter’s been keeping me regularly informed,” Hird told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

“I’m in Brisbane and I’m coming down shortly to see him.”

The 43-year-old James Hird, a father of four, has kept a low public profile since he left his job as Essendon coach in August 2015.

His reputation was damaged severely amid investigations into the club’s 2012 supplements program that left 34 past and present Bombers banned last season.

His wife Tania has requested their family be granted privacy.

Allan Hird said he had no suspicions his son’s health was under a cloud but believes he had been let down by people he had trusted.

He said leaks to media from the Essendon board while James was coach worked against him.

“I had no inkling. (It was) just out of the blue,” he said.

“Right from the start, I believed Jim trusted people too much.

“He put too much trust in the club doing the right thing. He put too much trust in the AFL. He put too much trust in our system of government.

“If he had his time again, he would have done it differently.”

Hird called for a top-level inquiry to look into the supplements scandal where people who handled the matter – including former federal government ministers and AFL and Essendon officials – would give evidence under oath.

He accused administrators of conspiring to make Hird the scapegoat for the ill-fated supplement program, protesting his son’s innocence.

“Get them to tell the truth. Get the truth out there and we’ll see where it lies,” he said.

“A ‘conspiracy’ is probably the wrong word in a legal sense, but in the general public’s eye, I’d say a conspiracy between the Gillard government, the AFL and elements of the Essendon board, plus the Australian Anti-Doping Authority to get a result for something to get everyone out of a hole.

“The Gillard government had got itself into a hole… overblew that crime commission report enormously and they needed something and they did that for political reasons.

“Both his employers were gunning for him but there was nothing specific he had ever done and there still isn’t.”

The AFL has refused to comment.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

-AAP

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