x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Coach behind Shinboner Spirit breaks away

This season has claimed its second victim before round 12 could be finished.

This season has claimed its second victim before round 12 could be finished. But unlike its first, the Richmond coach Terry Wallace, nobody had quite expected Dean Laidley, the coach of North Melbourne, to fall on his own sword this week. But the "Junkyard Dog" was not the kind of man to wait for a mid-year review and just decided to move on. If nothing else, he can be remembered for seeing his charges through the difficult times from 2003, where there was little money in the coffers for decent training facilities or even great participation in the drafts.

As he put it this week: "We didn't have a lot of money but we had a lot of love." That was proved by reports that every single player on the Shinboners' list appeared at Laidley's home during the week, and by the Roos' well-earned reputation as a dangerous team to play when any of their players was celebrating a milestone, or had suffered bereavement. The term Shinboner Spirit became an AFL cliche. Laidley played 99 games for the Roos as an earthy half-back, on top of his 52 for the West Coast Eagles as part of their inaugural list.

He was traded to the Roos in 1992 - the year of the Weagles' first premiership, but went on to win one with the Shinboners in 1996. He has been succeeded by another former Roo, Darren Crocker, as caretaker coach. The remainder of the split round begins today. @Email:pstafford@thenational.ae