David Barham, Kevin Sheedy, James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, Ben Rutten

ESSENDON, August 2022.

A board member of seven years suddenly wants to know why other clubs are successful, and demands "external data" to prove it. That board member of seven years crunches the numbers, decides to knife the president. The old president, staggeringly, decides to stay on the board.

An embarrassing, belated pitch is made to a four-time premiership coach. Come and coach us, please, Clarko. I'm desperate, I need a quick hit.

The current coach isn't even given the courtesy of a heads-up, humiliated in the process. But, hang on, Ben Rutten, please hang around long enough to coach the final match of the 2022 season while I burn and dismiss you publicly.

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Alastair Clarkson, of course, says no to the embarrassing plea. And whatever remote chance David Barham had of engaging in meaningful conversation with him had evaporated in a heartbeat, when Clarkson was made aware of another Bombers' board member, Kevin Sheedy, making derogatory comments on radio. Clarko wanted one thing in his second stint as a coach – for there NOT to be a Jeff Kennett divisive figure in that club's operations. Clarkson saw Kennett in Sheedy's comments. Immediately, he was out.

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And then this. A former captain who had a Brownlow Medal rightfully removed from him, after it was discovered he and other Bombers players had allowed themselves to be subjected to a questionable drugs program, then chooses to publicly quote the lead character of a New Jersey mafia boss in a celebrated TV series as the main reason why the main architect of that drugs program, then-coach James Hird, shouldn't return to Essendon.

"To quote the great Tony Soprano," Jobe Watson said on Channel Seven a day after Clarkson had said no and minutes before Rutten was to begin the final steps of his David Barham-instigated death march, "'Remember when is the lowest form of conversation'. You can't keep looking back."

Watson. Sopranos. Essendon. You can't make this stuff up.

Ben Rutten during his final match as Essendon coach, against Richmond in round 23, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Sheedy, who had crossed the floor and helped Barham end Brasher's time as Bombers boss, extraordinarily wants to explore the possibility of returning Hird to the position as coach, the role he had in 2011-2013, was justly suspended from in 2014 because of that drugs program under his watch, and returned to in 2015 before being sacked by the club.

Hird was the coach of Essendon during the time it was engaging in activities which may forever be regarded as the most disgraceful episode of questionable performance-enhancing activity in Australian sport.

Again, you can't make this up. This actually is Essendon.

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After that first stint, Hird was replaced by Mark Thompson, who was his 2IC during the period tainted by the drugs program. When Thompson was moved on, Hird returned, only to be sacked less than a year later. He was replaced by John Worsfold, a premiership coach, with Rutten identified as Worsfold's successor in 2019. Rutten took over in 2020, though it now suits the Bombers' narrative to say he didn't start until 2021. And now Barham wants to target another "experienced" coach, Hird being a main focus.

James Hird coaching Essendon against North Melbourne in round 16, 2015. Picture: AFL Photos

Essendon has three "football" directors on its board: Sheedy, Simon Madden – who I would argue is the greatest ruckman to ever play in the VFL/AFL – and Sean Wellman. That trio was asked to review the club's football operations by Brasher in 2020. And then asked by Brasher to review that review in May this year. That trio liked what it saw in 2020, and again liked what it saw in 2022. Which is why Barham, in his defence, decided to act.

But again, you can't make this stuff up.

Sheedy is many things, a grand, proud survivor being most prominent among those things. To continue to survive, he knew he had to change camps last weekend, so he helped knife Brasher to help Barham.

Sheedy is a street fighter from way, way back, a "bloody back-pocket plumber", as dubbed by the great Tom Hafey.

Somehow, in 2022 – 16 years after he was sacked as Bombers coach, which was 27 years after he started as Bombers coach – Sheedy is back, effectively in control of the Essendon Football Club. He wouldn't actually seek the title of president at some stage of the next week, would he?

Nah, you couldn't make that up.