If at first you do not succeed, quit, appears to be the approach legendary coach Paul Roos was taking when he inherited the Sydney Swans midway through the 2002 AFL Premiership competition.
Three defeats over four rounds of his first full season as the Swans coach left him with self-doubt that he could make it as an AFL coach that left him with a mind-set that he could walk away if the coaching gig did not work out well.
With the benefit of history, 268 games and one premiership to supply some perspective, Roos related some advice provided to him by former Sydney chairman Richard Colless that took some of the anxiety of the shoulders of Roos.
Appearing on Fox Footy’s On the Mark, Roos revealed the sage wisdom imparted to him by Colless.
“I remember Round 4, we played Hawthorn and we lost to go 1-3,” Roos said. “I remember Richard, who was always a great supporter, he came in — and I think he meant it when he said it — he said ‘well you’ve inherited the worst list in AFL history’.In a strange way, it was actually comforting. I knew I had the chairman behind me and I knew we understood what position we’re in.We ended up playing in a preliminary final at the end of that year, but there are always moments through your career that you go through it.”
If it were someone other than Roos relaying that report, we would question the veracity of the person and it is rare for the chairman of a club to demand anything other than winning from a coach, regardless of the quality of the list.
It took Roos only until 2005 for the Swans to win the premiership, which solidified Roos’ status as a player and a coach.
Roos played 356 games with Fitzroy and Sydney and the only possible fault we can perceive is that he was never coach of the Roos, depriving us of the opportunity of writing, truthfully at least, “Coach Roos of the Roos.”