Suns boss Tony Cochrane has hit back at critics.
Suns boss Tony Cochrane has hit back at critics.

Keep throwing s*** at us, we’ll survive: Cochrane

SUNS chairman Tony Cochrane has hit out at critics questioning the viability of the Gold Coast's AFL team in an emotional defence of the club.

The Suns have been under fire since successive 85 and 108-point loses to Geelong and GWS but Cochrane said the Suns weren't going anywhere while opening up about the challenges faced in Queensland and the work already done at grassroots level.

It comes after Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown said the Suns was in need of serious help from the AFL and the club 'will fold' if something wasn't done immediately because it was in 'terrible' shape.

"Keep throwing all the s*** you like at us, we are going to survive," Cochrane said on SEN radio on Tuesday.

Tom Lynch of the Suns (C) and team mates look dejected after the round 12 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Gold Coast Suns at Spotless Stadium on June 9, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Matt King, Getty Images.
Tom Lynch of the Suns (C) and team mates look dejected after the round 12 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Gold Coast Suns at Spotless Stadium on June 9, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Matt King, Getty Images.

"We are going to be a success. We are going to be a long term, proud part, of the AFL body of people.

"I, and the Suns, aren't going anywhere.

"It's going to be done brick by brick. We can't turn this around quickly. We have got to do everything right for our long term game plan.

"We have moved back into our ground where we have lots of challenges with the State Government about their fees and everything, but we will eventually win those things.

"You know why we have to win all those things? Because it's important to our community.

"It's really important to the Gold Coast community, who have had failure after failure in the sporting landscape, and that's got to change.

"We are now a sophisticated city, 650,000 people and this has to work.

"On the Gold Coast, and in Queensland I might add, AFL is booming.

"At grassroots level, we only have one problem on the Gold Coast, that is we don't simply have enough ovals.

"The reality is the 10,000 juniors playing AFL on the Gold Coast. It's impressive because 10 years ago, it wasn't 800.

"We are winning the AFL battle in the long term."

Cochrane took aim at out-of-towners criticising the club:

"Very few people down south have even spoken to me, which I probably understand, I'm not the nicest person to speak to but the reality is, get up here, see what we're doing.

"A lot of people writing these comments and making these comments on TV haven't once come up, walked around our club, spoken to everybody, spent a day immersing themselves into what we're trying to do and then gone away and written the article."

"All the external criticism, all the brickbats, keep throwing all the s*** you like at us, I'm telling you we're going to survive, we're going to be a success and we're going to be a long, long term proud part of the AFL body of people."

Cochrane says AFL commentators have no place criticising the club without visiting it. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Cochrane says AFL commentators have no place criticising the club without visiting it. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Cochrane detailed the chronic errors made in the club's start up, that had the Suns operating out of tin sheds for the first six years, while declaring the AFL needed to provide more financial help for a club that never hits salary cap.

"The first year I was chairman (2015) we had a budget of $360,000 for our academy zone in north Queensland," Cochrane said.

"It is as far from the Gold Coast as Melbourne is. Half way through the year I had to say stop and cut the budget back by $60,000 to $260,000 because we can't afford this.

"We need some extra funds for those sorts of things.

 

Gold Coast Suns CEO Mark Evans, senior coach Stuart Dew and chairman Tony Cochrane. Picture: Jerad Williams
Gold Coast Suns CEO Mark Evans, senior coach Stuart Dew and chairman Tony Cochrane. Picture: Jerad Williams

 

"We are not like a traditional club in Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia who have got hundreds of years, in some cases, of history.

"We are a start up and struggling for every dollar we can get hold of.

"We haven't once gone anywhere near spending our salary cap because we simply can't afford to and our injury problems have compounded all of that cost basis."

The likes of AFL great Jonathan Brown declared the Suns must be given concessions by the AFL to become competitive and Cochrane agreed.

Under pressure: Suns coach Stuart Dew. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Under pressure: Suns coach Stuart Dew. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

"You bet we need some help because there has been some chronic errors made in the past and we need some help to fix those errors," Cochrane said.

"We need to strengthen our list and we need to give the players that are there now some hope that they are getting some support because we are an outpost. This is a strong NRL market.

Cochrane took aim at sections of the media, in particular those based in Melbourne, for the perceived pressure put on free agent and Suns captain Tom Lynch.

Cochrane said Lynch was important to the Suns' future and while he could make any attempt to leave difficult, he was only focused on convincing the key forward to stay.

"(Lynch) is part of the fabric of our club," Cochrane said.

"He is our club captain and so important to our future plans.

 

Tom Lynch during a Gold Coast Suns AFL training session at Metricon Stadium on June 6, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. Picture: Chris Hyde, Getty Images.
Tom Lynch during a Gold Coast Suns AFL training session at Metricon Stadium on June 6, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. Picture: Chris Hyde, Getty Images.

 

"We are doing all we can to keep the home fires burning and give Tom a clear pathway to what we want to achieve.

"We want Tom to be part of that.

"I can be a full blown terrorist if I want to be (in trade negotiations). In this particular case I don't want to go down that road.

"I'm focused on building a club and building confidence that Tom wants to stay with us. That is where my focus has completely and utterly been."

On the job, itself he said:

"I well knew that I was being handed a poison chalice (Two-and-a-half years ago), I didn't think for a moment that I'm going to walk into this and have a blaze of glory in this role.

"There was a lot of people telling me not to do it for that reason, you're going to ruin a really good sporting administration career here because you're going to be trashed, but the reality is I love footy, I grew up in Adelaide, I'm an old Sturt man, footy is in my blood, it's in my heart, I love it, I would love to be a part of building the success of our great indigenous game here on the Gold Coast, if I have to work my ass off for another 10 years to do that then so be it, that's what I'll be doing and I've got a lot of help up here."

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