Glass forged Eagles recovery
Glass forged Eagles recovery

His lunges, close checking, spoils and willingness to back into packs saved West Coast so many times the club statisticians lost count.

Yet Darren Glass' greatest rescue effort might well have been off the field.

Season 2007 was the annus horribilis for West Coast. It should have been a time to bask in glory from the previous year's premiership.

But in the following 12 months Chad Fletcher had a major health scare from an unsavoury incident in Las Vegas. Ben Cousins slipped into a drug-induced whirlpool, raising concerns about a culture of substance abuse within the club. And then Chris Judd decided to scarper back to Victoria, leaving the Eagles without a leader.

And the performances of the team began to slide. Even the AFL put the WA operation on notice.

West Coast needed a hero.

Glass might have been reluctant to be in that role. He wasn't an extrovert. But he took on the task and quickly it seemed he had a cape and a big S on his chest as he guided the Eagles from the clutches of villains.

As West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett said today, if the new skipper didn't buy into the attempts to change the shape of the club at the time then the Eagles were in even bigger trouble.

They didn't need a ball magnet or someone to throw their weight around on the park.

It required a no-nonsense approach to galvanise a group in crisis.

Enter Glass.

He led like he played. He wasn't flashy but effective. For him it was all about that horrible buzzword in football - process.

If West Coast were to rebound it meant head down, back side up in approach. No liarising - heaven forbid the Eagles had enough of that in the early 2000s - just commitment to the task on and off the paddock.

Along the way Glass continued to do his job in defence, stopping goals under pressure.

But he can look back on his 129-game tenure as Eagles captain as probably his greatest football achievement.

The true reflection of success can often only be judged in hindsight.

And as he hands over the leadership role to someone yet unknown, Glass, and the rest of the West Coast camp, can state without a doubt that Eagles headquarters is a far better place now than when he inherited it in the summer of 1997.

The West Australian

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