The second chapter of Nathan Buckley’s stellar career with the Collingwood Football Club will draw to a close on Monday, with the Queen’s Birthday clash against Melbourne poised to be his last as Magpies coach.
On Wednesday morning, Collingwood officially announced Buckley would be stepping down as coach after the Round 12 clash in Sydney. Magpies assistant Robert Harvey will take over as interim coach for the remainder of the 2021 season.
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Buckley took charge of the Magpies nine years ago, replacing premiership coach Mick Malthouse in 2012. The 48-year-old has since led Collingwood to 116 victories with a commendable winning record of 54 per cent.
Buckley also represented the Magpies for 14 seasons from 1994 to 2007, playing 260 games in the black and white guernsey.
He was a seven-time All-Australian, winning the Brownlow Medal in 2003 and Norm Smith Medal in 2002.
However, there remains one notable accolade absent from his impressive list of achievements — a premiership.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley bidding farewell.Source:Supplied
Buckley was never able to muster a coveted flag for the Magpies, either as player or coach.
He came unbearably close to a maiden premiership in 2018 — Collingwood lost the grand final against West Coast by five points, with Dom Sheed’s late goal sealing a comeback victory for the Eagles.
On Wednesday, when reporters asked whether he was disappointed to have never clinched a premiership, Buckley responded: “I’m definitely not unfulfilled because the journey itself has been tremendously fulfilling.”
However, the ABC’s Dean Bolton described Buckley as “the modern AFL’s nearly-man, defined by the missed opportunities that will haunt him no matter how ‘fulfilling the journey itself’ has been.”
Former teammate and Collingwood premiership player Dane Swan tweeted: “Biggest name in the history of the club and the one thing he always did was put the best interests of The club first (whether we agreed or not). Deserved a flag more than anyone at the pies and should be celebrated on the way out. Hopefully life can be a tad normal for him again.”
Sports reporter Mark Gottlieb posted: “Nathan Buckley was my sporting hero as a kid. This is going to lead to plenty of trolling from Brisbane fans but to me it’s really sad that he never got that premiership as a Collingwood player or head coach. He was this close 3 times. I hope he gets it somewhere else.”
Nathan Buckley in 2001.Source:News Limited
The Guardian’s Antoun Issa tweeted: “It’s quite sad that Buckley never got to lead us to a flag after decades of service. We can’t fault him for putting his heart and soul in trying.”
The West Australian’s Mark Duffield wrote: “There is one thing missing — the flag. It is just one piece of the puzzle but for many it is the only piece they value.
Buckley’s exit comes after Eddie McGuire stepped down as Collingwood President in February, while football manager Geoff Walsh and list manager Ned Guy have also departed the club since the end of the 2020 season.
On Wednesday, Buckley conceded it had become clear to him Collingwood needed a “clean slate”.
“It was clear there was appetite for change … I could sense that as well,” he said.
“I would have been happy to coach the year out if that is what the club needed and wanted … but ultimately, coaching this weekend and then stepping out is an opportunity for new growth, for new energy and new voices.
“I still believe in my capacity to be a really good leader and to be a really good senior coach.”
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