Look out Mark Thompson, your mate is closing
Mark Thompson and Mark Harvey would not have spoken this week.
They are great mates who grew up a drop punt from each other, but when it comes to football and winning they are the best of enemies.
I remember both of them being fiercely competitive. As their coach at Essendon for almost 15 years I knew I could always rely on them.
Both started on the bench in the 1984 Grand Final and made immediate impacts. They changed the game and the course of history.
Thompson never kicked many goals, but he kicked a crucial one that day. Harvey won every 50-50 ball, which sent fear into a Hawthorn team that was wavering.
They were the gladiators of the side that day with their reckless enthusiasm and determination.
They have gone on to be two great young men in the AFL.
Thompson, from Airport West, is the meticulous electrician.
He plans and is impatient to build a club. A bit like Mick Malthouse.
Mark Harvey is going about it at Fremantle with a lot more risk. The Keilor boy is more impetuous and adventurous — a bit like myself.
Harvey and I probably spent more time with each other in developing strategies on how to coach.
Thompson spent time under Denis Pagan before taking up the senior role at Geelong in 2000.
I never worried they would take the next step, even though they were a bit different at times.
They always had this feeling that the press were after the coach. Harvey has improved enormously in that area and probably after copping so many losses early on he has learned to deal with it better.
Thompson is calm and relaxed when he fronts the media.
There’s no doubt Thompson has the runs on the board with two flags, but Harvey would be keen to open the batting.
And here they are, going into battle for a preliminary final berth.
Harvey has had the toughest job flying from one side of the continent to the other every second week. He’s had to get the Dockers up to believe in themselves and he’s had more injuries to deal with this season.
Mark Thompson’s team is better and has more experience.
There’s no doubt Harvey is on the way to having a chance to win a flag.
He culled the Freo list as soon as he could, and was criticised. But now Fremantle is the most improved club.
Geelong received a rude awakening last week and look to be more beatable than ever this year.
The only way Freo can upset them is if they are within a kick either way at three-quarter time. If that’s the case then it reminds me of Port Adelaide being just around it at three-quarter time in the 2004 Grand Final.
Their young legs overran Brisbane.
If they can produce their youthful run and vitality, Thompson may be given a run for his money by his old mate Harves.