Harley Reid's touching gesture for Adam Simpson as AFL fans blast 'disgraceful' move

The AFL world has hit back at the criticism directed towards Adam Simpson.

Eagles prodigy Harley Reid has defended Adam Simpson for the ugly backlash thrown his way following the announcement he would be parting ways with West Coast after 11 years. Simpson's reign as the head coach of West Coast came to an end on Tuesday after the AFL club deemed it was time for change.

The Eagles are 3-13 in 2024 and copped a 54-point humiliation at the hands of Melbourne on the weekend. Despite the tough announcement, Simpson showed his class and faced the media. And the veteran coach hit back during the press conference following a question over when he knew his time was up at the club.

Harley Reid embraces Adam Simpson and Simpson reacts.
AFL prodigy Harley Reid (pictured far left) has thanked departing Eagles coach Adam Simpson (pictured right) amid the ugly fallout at West Coast. (Getty Images)

“Probably your 300th article,” Simpson said when asked the question. “You guys can be cruel sometimes really, you have got to keep that in check because we’re human and we have families. So you want more access to our players, treat them with a bit more respect would be a good start. But you’ve got to do your job as well we get that, that’s the industry.”

Simpson's response garnered plenty of support with Eagles fans fond of their long-time coach. And young superstar Reid sent a message backing Simpson for his leadership. Reid thanked Simpson for the support and hit out at the backlash, which he obviously deemed unwarranted.

“Couldn’t thank this bloke enough for what he's done in such a short time of my career. One of the greatest to ever do it and has put up with so much crap,” Reid posted on social media. He accompanied the words with a photo of the pair.

Simpson made his position clear to the media during his press conference after the announcement he would be leaving the Eagles. However the fallout continued on Wednesday. The West Australian newspaper singled out the former Eagles coach and posted his recent record - his last 65 games in charge - on their front page.

The publication copped plenty of backlash for the move, with many feeling Simpson's plea was not heard. SEN Radio host Miles Pfitzner took exception to the front page after Simpson's press conference on Tuesday.

"What I saw this morning I find pretty deplorable," Pfitzner said on Wednesday morning. "He's been through the absolute wringer, Adam Simpson... in his first seven seasons at West Coast he had a 65 per cent win rate and he's coached a premiership... he's done a magnificent job.

"To wake up this morning and see what the West Australian have done with their front and back pages of the paper is an absolute disgrace. This is a guy who deserves some level of respect. He's a human being with a family."

In the press conference on Tuesday, West Coast CEO Don Pyke admitted it was time the club made a change after a horror run in 2024. “It was time. It was time for a change," he said.

“It was time for a refresh of our program and to Adam’s great credit, he always puts the club first, he accepted that was going to be the position and he had no more to give. It’s important we pay respect for what he’s done for our club and recognise the wonderful contribution he’s made.

“With that in mind, we’ve requested Adam coach the side one final time this weekend. As much as today is the announcement of the finish, we’d love Adam to coach one more time.” Pyke's suggestion - that the club would like Simpson to coach this weekend - did raise eyebrows within the AFL world. Simpson admitted he was undecided if he would take up the offer.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 23: Adam Simpson, Senior Coach of the Eagles looks on after losing the round 15 AFL match between Essendon Bombers and West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium, on June 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 23: Adam Simpson, Senior Coach of the Eagles looks on after losing the round 15 AFL match between Essendon Bombers and West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium, on June 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

With Simpson leaving the Eagles are in search of a new coach after 11 years. And Carlton captain Patrick Cripps said he would back assistant coach Ash Hansen if he opted to bid for the role at the Eagles.

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But he isn't the only one eyeing the job. Sydney assistant Dean Cox and Fremantle assistant Jaymie Graham are also reportedly expected to receive interest. But Cripps was full of praise for the Carlton assistant coach.

“I thought this question might come. (Hansen) is a great operator, he knows the game very well and he’s been great for our coaching group,” Cripps said on Tuesday. “I’m sure he has ambitions down the track, but knowing him he’s surely focused on what we’re doing. If he does decide to go down that path, I would support him 100 per cent.”