“There are players there … I’ve coached Ben Cunnington from the day he walked into the football club,” said Scott, when he was asked about the scene on the ground after the game. “Jamie MacMillan the same, you know the older players … Robbie Tarrant, Scott Thompson, Jack Ziebell, we’ve been together this entire time, so they were emotional which tends to set off a bit of a chain reaction.
“I pride myself in holding it together but largely we did. As hard as I’m trying to talk about the team, the reality is that all the talk out there, it effects people in different ways,” Scott said.
Cunnington told Fox Footy that Scott’s departure ‘‘felt like a loss in your family’’.
‘‘He backed me right from the start, early on he kept showing belief in me to be able to be who I am today,” Cunnington said.
‘‘It was personal and I wish I could have him for my whole career but that’s life. Today was a win for his whole career.
‘‘This one is for Scotty – he’s given us 10 years of his service and he’s backed us the whole time. This one was definitely for him.’’
Scott was on the way home from the club on Friday when news of his departure broke after his discussions over an early exit from his contract with the club’s chairman Ben Buckley and chief executive Carl Dilena.
Once the talks became public, he knew that he needed to move on quickly.
The former Brisbane premiership player denied suggestions that he made a bee-line for commentator and former North defender David King last Sunday with some choice words for King, a vocal critic in recent times.
But Scott did not miss King afterwards.
“I haven’t spoken to David King in years,” he said.
“There was a time when I put my shoulder straight through David King, and it was at the Gabba in the late-90s, and he didn’t respond then, either. I’m not about to start doing that again, coaching or as a player.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I would hope in due course that people who really know … there are people who play for football clubs who are automatically, (others) think they have a unique insight.
“With due respect, I haven’t seen any of those people at our football club, ever. The only only time I invited David King down to present a jumper to a first-year player, and he chose not to come.
“They don’t have any unique insight. They’ve played, but there isn’t a unique insight. I focus more on the people who know.”
The only only time I invited David King down to present a jumper to a first-year player, and he chose not to come.
North midfielder Shaun Higgins described the last 24 hours as “draining”, adding that the players were pleased to send Scott off with a win.
“It was an emotional day,” said Higgins. “There are a number of guys who’ve had Scotty his whole career, the relationship we’ve got with him. Look, he’s a players’ coach. He’s had our backs for so long. I guess the emotion of the last 12 to 24 hours plus the emotion of the game, and him being out there and the realisation, it all came to a head.”
Most of North Melbourne’s players found out on Friday night that Saturday would be Scott’s last game as coach. The coach himself was off the radar, leaving it until Saturday morning at the ground to speak to the senior group, and then talking to the club’s VFL players at night. Virtually none of the senior players could find him on Friday night.
“There was a bit going on, so I turned my phone off,” Scott said.
Former Collingwood and Sydney defender Rhyce Shaw, who was lured to the Kangaroos as Scott’s assistant this year, is tipped to be given the caretaker coaching role for the rest of this season, although veteran assistant Darren Crocker is also on the staff. Higgins said the players were still unclear about who would be in charge next weekend.
“Rhyce is an outstanding young coach,” said Scott. “He’s already built great relationships with our players, so I felt that I haven’t finished the job in terms of mentoring him but he’s accelerated so quickly that he’s already an outstanding coach in his own right.”
Scott praised his players for standing up at a difficult time.
“I was really proud of the way the club – led by the players, really – were able to stay focused on the task at hand,” said Scott.
“We spent a lot of time pre-game, a lot more than we normally would, talking about the challenges that professional athletes face. Regardless of your chosen field of endeavour, whether it’s sport, business, whatever it is if you’re at a really high level you face obstacles and you face moments where if you let the emotion of whatever’s going on get the better of you, and you don’t perform.”
Martin Blake is a Sports production journalist and writer for The Age.