Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson might have devoted his career – and much of his life – to a team sport, but he’s always been suspicious of pack mentality. ‘I hate group-think’, he’s said. ‘It’s just not my style. I have never been part of any boy’s club in footy. I have been independent going right back to my youth.’
Perhaps it’s this headstrong, independent mindset that has enabled Thompson to play a uniquely influential role in Australian Rules football over three decades. He played more than 200 games for Essendon in the eighties and nineties and has been instrumental in five premierships: three as a player at Essendon, two at Geelong as coach. Thompson returned to Essendon in 2010, taking the reigns from James Hird as senior coach in 2014 following the supplements saga.
Having left the club at the end of that season, Thompson has taken some time to reflect on his 34 years in the game. His book, Bomber: The Whole Story, gives an insight into playing and coaching Australian Rules at the highest levels. In conversation with Karen Lyon, Thompson will discuss the highs and lows of his career, the personal cost of senior coaching, the supplements scandal and the future of Australian Rules football.
Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson played 202 games for Essendon Football Club from 1983 to 1996 under legendary coach Kevin Sheedy. He captained the side for four seasons, and played in three premierships – in 1984, 1985 and 1993. In 2000, Thompson became the senior coach of the Geelong Football Club, where he coached the team to the club’s drought-breaking premiership in 2007, then took them to another flag in 2009.
In November 2010 he left Geelong, returning to Essendon as senior assistant coach to James Hird in 2011. He was appointed senior coach for the 2014 season when Hird was suspended. He is now a Fox Footy panellist and works with emerging coaches.
For more than two decades, Karen Lyon has covered Melbourne and its sports-obsessed culture. She was a political reporter before crossing the boundary line to sport in 1999, and has been covering the world of sport ever since.