In shock news to the footy media and myself, Dean Laidley resigned as coach of North Melbourne Football Club this morning. In a press conference underway as I write, assistant coach Darren Crocker will step up as caretaker coach for the remainder of 2009 (the obvious choice).
I held the opinion earlier in the year that Laidley’s future could go either way, but had faith in the current administration to make the right call. As it turns out, they didn’t need to.
All in all, I think today’s events are a step in the right direction for North Melbourne. While I’ve always been a big fan of Dean Laidley, if he thinks it’s time, then it’s time. And the time is right; the mid-season break gives Crock two weeks to establish himself, it allows the club to begin looking for a replacement and it disperses the growing media vultures circling Arden St for a carcass. (The whole process has certainly shown up Richmond for the dogs breakfast that they are!)
As to the replacement, speculation is already rife. But in my opinion, there is only one choice: Nathan Buckley. I think he is the perfect fit. If he costs $1 million, he costs $1 million – that money will appear pretty quickly if his name is on the books. But I don’t think money will be the issue with Buckley. He’ll be after the right club, not the right price. And I honestly think he will be interested in North. More on that later….
Right now, it’s time all North supporters rose as one and acknowledged the incredible service Dean Laidley has given North Melbourne Football Club. The guy is a class act. Today’s move is just another example of Dean Laidley putting the club above himself. In an era clouded by relocation speculation, a feuding board and constant questions over North’s viability, Laidley, as much as anyone, has ensured North’s future in Melbourne. Moreover, the Junkyard Dog has embodied the true spirit of the club, taking it back to its North Melbourne roots. And I will never forget that magical season in 2007.
Dean Laidley, I salute you.