AAP AFL

Dockers AFL coach Ross Lyon saw axe coming

By AAP Newswire

Axed Fremantle coach Ross Lyon knew he was a dead man walking - but he didn't think the chop was going to come this soon.

Lyon was called into a meeting on Tuesday morning to be told his services were no longer required, despite having a year remaining on his contract.

The veteran AFL coach already sensed he wouldn't earn a contract extension beyond 2020, but he was surprised to be fired this year.

Chief executive Steve Rosich, who was influential in recruiting Lyon to Fremantle at the end of 2011, was also axed.

Lyon was gracious on Tuesday afternoon when he fronted the media, heaping praise on Fremantle as a club, and also thanking the fans and players for their support over the years.

But he couldn't help but feel a tad robbed that he wouldn't have the opportunity to see out the final season of his four-year rebuild.

"There's always that pang. I was strong enough and tough enough to go through next year, and squarely focused," Lyon said.

"We beat Geelong with eight of our best 16 (players) out. That's probably why I don't agree with the decision (to axe me), but I certainly respect the decision.

"There was no way the club would extend me, I wouldn't have thought, beyond 2020. The noise around that was a lot for them, and they wanted some clean air.

"I don't agree with it, but I certainly respect it, and I wish them all the best.

"The Dockers will always hold a special place in my heart. I just want to make that clear - the Dockers have been unbelievable."

Lyon has spent the past 13 years as a senior coach, with seven of those at Fremantle.

But he was non-committal when asked if he wanted to coach again. Either way, it seems highly unlikely he will find somewhere to coach in 2020.

"I've been really privileged. I love the game. I've loved coaching. It will be a fresh of breath air for me (now)," Lyon said.

"I've already enrolled at Harvard last week - behavioural economics, the psychology of decision making. I want to keep stretching myself and growing. I feel I've matured.

"It's a short ride. We're not here forever.

"If I can keep improving, I've got something to offer somewhere. But I need to go gather myself.

"I've got three young kids. They're 13 and below, so they're a little bit rattled at the minute. I'll wrap some support around them."

Lyon encouraged AFL players to think about joining Fremantle, declaring the "flags will come".

The 52-year-old led Fremantle to the 2013 grand final, and took St Kilda to the decider in 2009 and 2010.

All of those resulted in losses - apart from the drawn grand final with Collingwood in 2010, after which St Kilda lost the replay.

"Yeah, we all want to win flags. That's how we want to define ourselves," Lyon said.

"But obviously, at this point, it hasn't occurred."