Darcy said the Western Bulldogs’ ability to stand with the wealthiest clubs and not rely on AFL funding through the shutdown of the competition was a moment of pride for the club as he contrasted it to his arrival in the game.
He started at the Bulldogs at the time of the Fightback, when the club was tin-rattling to survive and it was testament to the work of club presidents Peter Gordon and David Smorgon through the past 20 years that the club has elevated itself off and on the field. Far from being bracketed with the weak and vulnerable clubs, the Bulldogs are instead bracketed with the richest clubs, able to turn down AFL assistance.
“That is an incredible position to be in from where we were when I started and Peter and David deserve enormous credit for that,” he said.
The re-set that football will undertake as a consequence of the damage to the revenues in the game and the broad structural change the AFL will insist upon means Darcy arrives at the club at a moment when decisions of critical importance in football will be made.
“My broad view is there are certain things that have changed in the world and you cannot waste your time fighting those changes because they are outside your control,” he said.
“We need to protect our people as best we can but also do the best thing for the Western Bulldogs.”
Darcy is a 236-game player, former captain and All-Australian player whose dad, David, also played more than 100 games with the Dogs. Darcy has also run a successful pub business and hosts a breakfast radio show.
He has four children aged from nine to 16 and figured now was the time he needed to contribute to the club and has joined as the football director, replacing Matthew Croft.
Darcy said as an outsider he agreed with the wide range of decisions made by the club after they won the flag in 2016.
“Bob Murphy said that winning the flag for the Bulldogs was like landing on the moon, it was not like winning it at another club where they had won flags previously. And he was right.
“It profoundly changed so many things about the Bulldogs, it changed the dynamic, it changed the psyche.
“It was always going to take a serious amount of adjustment and there were a lot of tough decisions with players moving but from the outside a lot of those decisions made sense to me.
“And, like I have said, we have a once-in-a-generation person as coach and I stand by that comment, and I think when you get someone like that you do everything you can to make sure they are comfortable.”
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.