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Who’s the favourite to take the Bomber hot seat?

JAMES Hird is no longer the coach of Essendon.

After a tumultuous three years where he fought the club, the AFL and ASADA, Hird resigned from his post yesterday, on the Bombers’ board’s encouragement.

His assistant, former Geelong defender Matthew Egan ($6 with sportsbet.com.au), will look after the club as interim coach for the final three games of 2015.

But then the search will be on.

And the brother of the club’s legendary goal kicker Matthew Lloyd is the favourite to take over Hird’s mantle.

Fremantle assistant Simon Lloyd has been backed into equal favouritism – $4.50 – to be the next Essendon coach with sportsbet.com.au. sharing the spoils with Sydney assistant and former Port Adelaide and Hawthorn premiership player Stuart Dew.

Lloyd firmed in from $7 to $4.50 as the punters came for him yesterday.

But you can get better value at CrownBet.com.au, the bookie rating the Lloyd as the $5 favourite, ahead of another Bombers’ legend in defender Mark Harvey, who is $5.50, while Dew is $6.

It’s an interesting race, with Sportsbet.com.au’s Christian Jantzen reporting Egan isn’t without a chance at $6, equal with the three-time Essendon premiership player and former Fremantle coach Harvey.

“Nearly twice as much money has come for Simon Lloyd in comparison to Mark Harvey, who’s the second best backed candidate, and we’ve adjusted his odds accordingly,” Jantzen said.

“For the football romantics out there, Kevin Sheedy, and Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson are listed as $21 chances.”

But if you think Egan can beat out the rest of those boys, you can get a juicy $17 with CrownBet.com.au.

Egan is just 32, but presents an intriguing option, with his ability to tackle adversity well versed.

Forced to retire after just 59 games with the Cats due to a debilitating foot injury, Egan had a promising career taken away from him. Was named the Cats’ best first year player in 2005 and best clubman and All Australian in 2007.

He retired at the end of 2009 due to a fractured navicular that ended his career and became development coach at the Cats, before crossing to the Bombers as an assistant in 2012.

This morning, he spoke with media, but did not commit to wanting to take on the top job full time.

“I’ve been coaching seven years so I’m not really sure, it’s my first time coaching a main group so I’ll see how I go,” Egan said.

“There’s no doubt we need to get them to play with some freedom, their heads are probably spinning a bit this week.

“My job is to make training fun and get them excited about footy.”

Lloyd, the favourite, though, has strong links to the club through his brother, Matthew, who played 276 games and booted 926 goals.

Tellingly, you would think he has the skills to help guide the Essendon players through the mire that is the supplements scandal and WADA’s current investigation – he was once a sports psychologist with Collingwood and Hawthorn.

At various stages, the 45 year old has also been the favourite to take on the Carlton job, so it will be interesting to see which way it goes.

Brother Matthew says Simon would ‘love’ to be a senior AFL coach.

“Whether he gets that chance, I’m not sure,” Matthew Lloyd said earlier this year.

“He’s doing the Level four coaches course and obviously highly regarded there at Fremantle.

“Time will tell.”

In an emotional retirement speech Hird said hr agreed with the board that the club would not be able to get past the supplements scandal with him at the helm.

“On Monday night I agreed to tender my resignation to the Essendon Football Club,” Hird said.

“Essendon has always been in my heart since I was young.

“It was the board’s opinion that the football club would never be free of the ASADA scandals while (chairman) Paul (Little) and I were here.

“I’ve always cared deeply about the players. I truly thank you with all my heart.

“By making the decision to stand down I do hope the AFL industry will give the players the chance to play freely.

“To all the supporters, thank you for the love and care that you have given my people. You are special people.”

“Firstly, and some of you may disagree, I think I’ve been a good coach.

“I wanted to be the coach that lead them to success. We want to be a football club again.

“We played well until the WADA appeal. Perhaps if WADA hadn’t appealed, that would have given us clear air to play.

“I leave in a time the club needs strong guidance and care, but I hope to continue to help from afar.”

With the WADA cloud still hanging over the club – its appeal over the AFL anti doping commission’s decision not to rub out players will sit before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in November – Little vowed to see it through.

“When I inherited the role of chairman, I resolved to see the ASADA investigation through to its conclusion and allow the next chairman of the Essendon Football Club clear air to lead the club into the future,” Little said.

“I believe it is vital to provide stability to the club, to the board, players and supporters during the remainder of this very difficult period.

“As such, I plan to stay on as chairman until I can steer the club and our players through the final stages of the WADA appeal.”

Classy club captain Jobe Watson said he was saddened by Hird’s decision and it did not remove the cloud hanging over the players.

“We won’t be able to put it behind us until it’s over,” Watson said.

“What he’s (Hird) done is try to make it as easy as possible for the players and the fans and the football club to try and move forward and get some of that space.

Hird is a champion of the Bombers and the AFL. A dual premiership player and Brownlow medallist, Hird made five All Australian teams, won a Norm Smith Medal, five club best and fairests and led the club in goals twice.

He is in the club’s team of the century and was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

But has that all been tarnished by his part in the club’s darkest days. Only time will answer that unfortunate question.

With the Hird era over, who will be the next coach?

Place your bets below.

Sportsbet and CrownBet markets for Essendon’s next coach

Simon Lloyd ($4.50)
Stuart Dew ($4.50)
Mark Harvey ($6)
Matthew Egan ($6)
Nathan Bassett ($7)
Scott Burns ($9)
Blake Caracella ($12)
John Worsfold ($14)
Guy McKenna ($16)
Leigh Tudor ($18)
Brent Montgomery ($21)
Brenton Sanderson ($21)
Chris Bond ($21)
Dean Laidley ($21)
Dean Solomon ($21)
Don Pyke ($21)
John Barker ($21)
John Blakey ($21)
Kevin Sheedy ($21)
Mark Thompson ($21)
Matthew Lloyd ($21)
Paul Roos ($21)
Peter Sumich ($21)
Scott Camporeale ($21)
Michael Voss ($26)
Brendan Bolton ($31)

CrownBet.com.au market:

Simon Lloyd ($5)
Mark Harvey ($5.50)
Stuart Dew ($6)
Nathan Bassett ($8)
Scott Burns ($9)
Blake Caracella ($13)
John Worsfold ($15)
Matthew Egan ($17)
Guy McKenna ($17)
Leigh Tudor ($17)
Brent Montgomery ($19)
Dean Laidley ($19)
John Blakey ($21)
Scott Camporeale ($21)
Michael Voss ($21)
Don Pyke ($21)
Peter Sumich ($21)
Matthew Lloyd ($23)
Chris Bond ($23)
John Barker ($23)