DAVID Crocker would never turn his back on his beloved Bombers.
"It won't change me. Right now the club needs supporters, not barrackers," Mr Crocker said, speaking as the AFL held crisis talks with Essendon hierarchy, including coach James Hird, over its banned drugs scandal.
One of Ballarat's biggest Essendon fans, Mr Crocker said he began barracking for the red and black when he was just five and his uncle lived "two drop kicks away" from Windy Hill.
"We used to go fairly regularly by train when we were kids."
Mr Crocker cites his childhood heroes as Ian "Bluey" Shelton, Ken Fletcher, Ken Fraser, Jack Clarke and Geoff Leek.
As an adult, he also converted his entire family to the Bombers' cause, with wife Jeanette switching from Footscray and children Nathan and Rebecca, son-in-law Brett, daughter-in-law Amanda and grandchildren Rex, Maya, Georgia and Fleur, now all bleeding red and black.
However, Mr Crocker said before the decision was handed down that he was disappointed in both his club and the AFL.
"I'm disappointed in the length of time it has taken, but whatever penalties come out, I'll live with them. I just want to get it over and done with so we can start 2014 afresh."
Mr Crocker said if Hird was banned for at least 12 months, he would like to see an old club stalwart, such as Mark Harvey or Neale Daniher, return as coach.
Although a massive fan of former coach Kevin Sheedy, he said he didn't necessarily think he should return either.
"But I don't think this would have happened under Sheeds," he added.
Mr Crocker said he was concerned at the impact of the drugs scandal on both the Essendon players and younger supporters.
"I don't know how it's going to affect younger children. There's so much they will be hearing that they won't understand. But I've always said we should wait until it's all out there and then make up our minds."
Mr Crocker also said he didn't think the players were at fault.
"If you're an 18 or 19-year-old kid and someone gives you a needle and says this is going to make you better, you take it because you want to be an AFL star. I do think they are guilty of not looking after the kids."
Mr Crocker also said he had renewed respect for his modern day hero, Jobe Watson, who said he had been given banned drug AOD-9604.
"He was a rarity because he told the truth. I respect him enormously. But there are others on both sides of the ledger who have been hiding stuff and not telling the truth completely."