“And now….the end is near….and so I face…..the final curtain…….”
Only a couple of weeks ago we called for the heads of both Matthew Elliot and Wayne Scurrah in this column. The “resignation” this morning of Elliot after one of the worst performances in the Warriors’ history has satisfied half of that request. But what of Scurrah?
Wayne Scurrah joined the Warriors as CEO at the end in 2005 season, after Mick Watson left the club. He immediately struck problems in Year One – through no fault of his own – after “Honest” Mick left him the legacy of salary cap breaches the previous season.
Throughout that time there have been a number of high profile signings, but just as many – if not more – high profile departures. With Elliot now gone, that means that in four seasons the Warriors will have had Ivan Cleary, Brian McClennan, Tony Iro, Matthew Elliot and now Andrew McFadden as coach (caretaker or otherwise).
Of those, McClennan and Elliot were very poor choices for the head coaching role. McClennan had no NRL experience, and was soon found to be well out of his depth. Tony Iro simply wasn’t given an opportunity before Elliot was signed up. Elliot’s most recent NRL coaching stint at that point was at Penrith. In the five seasons he was in charge there, only 2010 could be rated a success – they finished second on the ladder before limping out of the finals without firing a shot. The other seasons resulted in finishes of 16th (last), 12th, 11th and 12th. The end of his tenure at Canberra prior to that was just as spectacular.
Hardly the high profile coach the Warriors were hell-bent on securing as “the best coach available”.
Ultimately, Elliot was going to live and die by the Warriors results. Not so much from a win/loss point of view, but how those wins or losses were achieved. He was at the helm for 29 games and won only 13 of them. Two of the losses – Saturday’s debacle at Shark Park, and last year’s embarrassment at Penrith – were two of the most inept in the club’s history.
His selection policy often lacked the hard calls. Giving the likes of a clearly out of shape Feleti Mateo the amount of game time he has received this season is a perfect example. Mateo is not the only one – the team doesn’t look any fitter (physically or mentally) than they did 12 months ago. And 12 months ago they looked horrible.
You can make a strong argument that Elliot was never the right man for the job to start with. But according to some of the candidates at the time, the Warriors administration dragged the chain for so long that in reality he was the last man standing.
So Elliot moves on – and becomes another casualty of the Wayne Scurrah era.
Some of the decisions made throughout Scurrah’s tenure defy belief. The decision to keep the team away from their home ground of Mt Smart Stadium until Week 12 of this season’s competition is bizarre. There is some talk going around that he was left in limbo by the ARC who wanted the Warriors out of the ground to accommodate speedway. Whilst there may be some truth to that, I have it on good authority that the seeds for a move to Eden Park were sown a long time ago in a ridiculously optimistic attempt to maximise gate takings – by Wayne Scurrah.
Having the team play in a different jersey every second week – as we alluded to in this column just over a year ago – is nothing more than an attempt to wring the last available dollar out of the punter’s hands.
From all accounts, the Warriors’ finances are in good shape, and Scurrah is being heralded for that side of the club, and rightly so. However, a lot of credit must go to the likes of Finance & Operations Manager Dave Curran – as CEO, Scurrah oversees all aspects of the club, and at the moment the football side of things is failing miserably.
In 2012, Dean Bell was signed up as the club’s General Manager of Football. In the time he has been there, recruitment has been decidedly average, whilst a number of quality players have been allowed to go. Bell is skating on paper-thin ice.
Throughout Scurrah’s tenure, they have lost quality coaching talent in John Ackland (the heart and soul of the club), and Tony Iro, who was apparently well respected by the players. John Hart has also left a huge hole in the administration.
The reason for Hart’s departure was simple. Wayne Scurrah completed what will go down in history as the club’s biggest blunder to date, in allowing Ivan Cleary to move on.
The last two seasons have ended with finishes outside of the Top Eight, and there is absolutely nothing to suggest that 2014 will be any different.
The (far from convincing) announcement that Elliot has decided to leave the coaching role is one thing. The fact that he has been unable to arrest the Warriors downward spiral means that Wayne Scurrah must ultimately be accountable.