QUESTIONS: Essendon's James Hird during one of his many Toorak mansion driveway media spots during the 2013 season. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
QUESTIONS: Essendon's James Hird during one of his many Toorak mansion driveway media spots during the 2013 season. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

LW: For a minute this week, Doley, I thought I was back in 2013 when I saw early-morning vision of James Hird outside his Toorak mansion.

You know the footage of a year ago I'm talking about - Hirdy getting out of his car in his driveway and being asked a barrage of questions by the awaiting media as the latest development in the Essendon supplements saga unfolded.

It seemed you couldn't get through a week during the AFL season last year without the obligatory Hirdy driveway TV grab, and we saw it again on Wednesday morning after his arrival back in town from France.

With Hirdy back from overseas - and sporting a wig of hair that I'm certainly envious of - it sparks the obvious question among us Bomber fans of should he recommence duties with the club once his suspension ends in the week leading into the round 23 Carlton game next month, or should his return to the club be put off until the end of the season?

ND: As long as those at Essendon can all agree on Hirdy's return or not then I have no problem with him being back as coach. 

The quandary is the Mark Thompson-coached Essendon is playing well and could be heading into a finals campaign.

All of the footy world knew Hird's suspension was until round 23, and that 'Bomber' was interim coach.

Maybe they can agree Bomber coach until the 2014 campaign is over and then Hird is back at the wheel.

Either way it's a tough call for the club to make.

LW: I'd like to see Bomber coach the season out and the club avoid the distraction and the media circus that would come should Hirdy regain the reins as soon as his suspension is over.

Let's just play the season out with Bomber at the helm and hopefully, go deep into September with what has worked well to get us to this stage and then Hirdy, after serving his penance, can take back over once 2014 is done and dusted.

ND: Great idea, but the most ardent of Hird fans would not agree.

Another issue for Essendon is whether champion defender Dustin Fletcher plays on to 2015.

Dusty battled last Sunday as Jake Stringer from Bendigo ran riot on his way to kicking five goals for the Western Bulldogs.

It was a remarkable turnaround as Fletcher was clearly best afield when the Bombers won against the Bulldogs earlier in the season.

After 22 consecutive seasons as a player, Fletcher may not go on to 23.

LW: I can still remember Fletch's first game - it was the draw against Carlton early in 1993 when Blues' captain Stephen Kernahan sprayed a shot at goal out on the full after the siren.

I was just starting out high school at good old Rushworth Secondary College that year with a full head of hair and the fact that I'm now into my 12th year of working alongside your good self shows just how long Fletch has been in the game.

But Father Time catches up with everyone, and while there's the lure of 400 games on the horizon, it will be intriguing to see what the future holds beyond this season when you consider only a few weeks ago he was left out of the team for match-up reasons.

Would love to see him get to 400, but also don't want to see him limp out of the game by going on a year too long.

ND: A win or two in September would be the ideal send-off.  



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