PFNL 2018: Mandurah Mustangs deny claims of ‘toxic’ environment from former coach

The Mandurah Mustangs have defended themselves against claims from former coach Mat Aitchison that the club’s culture is “toxic” and “mediocre.”

Aitchison and the club agreed to part ways following their 13th straight loss of the season a fortnight ago, with the ex-coach insisting a selection of the playing group “couldn’t handle strong feedback” and accepted mediocrity.

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“When I was appointed it was on the basis of implementing change and leading the club into a new era,” he said.

Aitchison coached the Mustangs through the first 14 games of the season. Photo: Justin Rake.

Aitchison coached the Mustangs through the first 14 games of the season. Photo: Justin Rake.

“I’m learning as a coach and there’s certainly things I can do better but through all the events of this year the club kept telling me they were extremely happy with how I was going.

“Then since last week, the message from the president to players was ‘it was coming for a while’.

“They basically backed out when we had a lot of things on track.

“Obviously it can sound like sour grapes, but I feel I needed a right of reply after the disrespect and insensitivity in the way the club has conducted itself since last Sunday.

“There’s a couple of toxic characters pulling strings at the top and in the playing group and frankly they’ve never achieved anything.”

Club president Gavin Lehmann refuted Aitchison’s claims, calling them “untrue” and saying the club was headed in a positive direction.

“Essentially Mat wanted to kick some people out of the club and that’s not his call to make,” Lehmann said.

“We’ve carried out extensive reviews of our coaching and committee processes through the year so to say we’ve been complacent as a club is untrue.

“We had 66 players on the training track last Wednesday, I believe that’s the most we’ve had all year, and we had three great wins on the weekend so the results speak for themselves.

“Really, we as a club have moved on, and won’t be looking back or dragging this up in the future.”

The Mustangs snapped their 13-game skid with a win over Waroona on Saturday, and will be back in action against Rockingham at Anniversary Park on this coming Saturday.