West Coast players loved John Worsfold right until the end, but they simply had nothing left in the tank to fire a shot when it mattered most.
Worsfold sent a shock through the AFL earlier this month when he stepped down as Eagles coach after 12 years in the role.
Just days earlier, the 44-year-old had indicated he was keen to coach on, but he soon realised he no longer had the passion, drive or hunger to thrive in such a demanding job.
West Coast’s last three weeks of the season took a heavy toll on Worsfold, with the team losing to Collingwood, Geelong and Adelaide by a combined 214 points.
The 86-point loss to Adelaide in the final round was particularly damning, especially considering it was the farewell games of retiring greats Andrew Embley and Adam Selwood.
Worsfold has kept a low profile since stepping down, but he has met a number of players to detail his reasons for stepping down.
A host of Eagles players have expressed disappointment with how they performed in the dying weeks of the season when Worsfold’s future was up in the air.
But he doesn’t blame them for his demise, saying they simply had nothing left to give after a trying season in which the club was ravaged by injuries.
“It wasn’t through a lack of effort or desire … of the players,” Worsfold told the club’s website in a farewell video on Friday.
“But it was certainly a build up of the disappointment of the year, the fact that we had a pretty young squad playing and that, mentally, I think they had nothing left to give.
“The fact they couldn’t even fire a shot for the last games of Andrew Embley and Adam Selwood shows they wanted to (fire), but they just couldn’t give anything.”
Worsfold will be remembered as the club’s greatest figure.
He captained West Coast to two flags during his 209-game playing career, and also coached the club to the 2006 premiership.
But perhaps his greatest achievement was the way he led the club through the illicit drugs crisis of last decade, which culminated in Ben Cousins’ sacking in 2007 and led to an overhaul of the club’s culture.
“I’m proud of the way I leave the playing group and the culture within it,” Worsfold said.
“It’s a very strong, self-governing culture.
“Players hold each other very accountable.
“They’re the ones that know what each other are up to more than the coaches will ever know.
“They do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that if a player is tempted outside of the values the players want to uphold, they’ll be brought into line or they’ll get questioned about whether they want to remain at the footy club.”
West Coast hope to appoint Worsfold’s replacement by mid-October.
Worsfold said assistant coach Scott Burns and former West Coast forward Peter Sumich would be ideal candidates for the role.