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Buckley could prove to be one of the great coaches

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley talks to a packed media conference about star player Harry O'Brien.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley talks to a packed media conference about star player Harry O'Brien. Photo: Jason South

Nathan Buckley has been Collingwood's longest-serving captain. He has also won a club-record six best and fairest awards. He won't reach Jock McHale's record of 714 games coached, but the signs indicate he could well prove to be one of Collingwood's finest coaches and ambassadors.

Buckley achieved everything as a player, other than the ultimate – being part of a premiership team. When he retired from the field, he impressed with his professionalism in the football media. He then began a coaching career as an assistant, something his contemporaries in Michael Voss and James Hird didn't do to their detriment.

On Friday night, the Brownlow medallist will coach his 40th senior game. If the Pies beat the Crows, his success rate will be 67 per cent. That's much better than the career success rates of Leigh Matthews, Mick Malthouse and Kevin Sheedy, who are all in the high 50s.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley. Photo: Getty Images

Obviously, Buckley will have to prove he can go the distance, and in long coaching careers there will be down seasons, but in what has been a short time in the hot seat, Buckley has impressed as he has overcome the many challenges he has already faced.

The first was to hold his tongue and maintain his dignity when the planned and agreed coaching succession plan with Malthouse started to fray. Buckley was slighted and unfairly ridiculed more than once, but his composure and class stood firm while others didn't.

He then has the courage to be his own man and do things his way as coach. Plenty of new coaches don't.

So things were done differently at Collingwood. Older players who have had success are often reluctant to change. There's no doubt some senior players didn't appreciate the new challenges. But the coach stood firm and was prepared to play kids who would do it his way.

Last year Buckley introduced seven new players into the senior team. This year, another seven have made their debuts, which is the most for any club. In last week's win against Carlton, of the eight youngest players on the ground, seven wore black and white.

It's impressive. And as the kids help to get wins, the older ones realise it's "get on board or get out".

A rotten run with injuries hasn't helped. Last year four of the top six goalkickers were Dayne Beams, Alex Fasolo, Tyson Goldsack and Dale Thomas. They have hardly been seen thus far. Also missing for large chunks of the season have been Darren Jolly, Lachlan Keeffe, Andrew Krakouer, Clint Young and Alan Toovey.

The last week has been a tough one for the Pies, but the Harry O'Brien situation has been handled with a satisfactory balance of sensitivity and strength. Buckley is an accomplished media performer and in times like these he is the ideal man to front for his club.

An embarrassing loss to Port Adelaide two weeks ago could well be the catalyst for the Pies to put their season on track. No one shied away from how bad the loss was and a spike in effort was promised. After a slow start last week against the Blues, the Pies got on a roll and delivered. Super performances from senior players in Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury and Travis Cloke showed the senior boys are on the same page as the coach.

A win on Friday night over Adelaide, followed by games against Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney could set Collingwood up with a four-win block that will build confidence and form as it approaches its big pre-September test. In rounds 19, 20 and 21 the Pies take on Essendon, Sydney and Hawthorn; all teams that comprehensively beat them in the first half of the season.

There are good reasons why the Pies can optimistically look ahead. They have a coach who has weathered several storms to take on an elevated standing in the game. Ben Reid is proving to be a match-winning swing man. If Keeffe can return to defence and Nick Maxwell can take on taller opponents in the back line, then Reid will be invaluable support for Cloke, who is nearing top form. Heath Shaw is working some effective lock-down jobs. New boys Marley Williams and Paul Seedsman have added dash off the half-back line.

For years the Pies haven't had a tagger. Brent Macaffer has taken on the role and is doing an excellent job as he has the concentration, will, size and skill to curtail elite midfielders. He can also do a defensive forward role if needed. Krakouer's return is so important to the forward mix. His creativity sets up plenty of goals. Dayne Beams won last year's best and fairest. His return will ease the load on the midfield and he will be a regular goalkicker.

Jolly, if fit, is still one of the game's best ruckmen. In his absence Ben Hudson has been good value and Jarrod Witts has been getting invaluable experience. Coming off a knee reconstruction, Luke Ball can only get better with each game played.

Hopefully O'Brien can get his life back on track and return to the back line. In full flight, he is a fine, attacking defender. So there is a big upside for the Pies as September looms. During these trying times at Collingwood, there's been one player I have really admired, and that's Jarryd Blair. The little fellow never stops trying. He gives his absolute all. He has energised a team that, for a period, lost its spark. I hope he has a terrific September.

60 comments

  • Comparing his record to the all time great coaches in his 2nd year after taking over a premiership team is a bad joke. Also Fremantle have proved this year that injuries aren't a valid excuse.

    Commenter
    Perspective
    Date and time
    July 11, 2013, 10:10PM
    • He coaches a team now with around ten senior guys injured, and has brought in 14 kids in two seasons, more than any other club . The team he now coaches is vastly different to our premiership team, nothing like it really,. Jealousy is a curse eh. !

      Commenter
      Pienschess
      Location
      Mt Evelyn
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 12:45AM
    • Pies have an injury list? Compare whose injured to other clubs. The pies have there studs fully fit and there fringe players getting injured. Start using it as an excuse when Swan, Pendels and Cloke are out.

      Plus all the young kids he has blooded are the same type of player who can go missing and not change the result of the game. I agree Freo are doing well without there studs.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 8:18AM
    • Dear Pienschess, both GWS and GCFC had more debuts than Collingwood over the last two seasons. Don't believe everything you read.

      Commenter
      Big Sound
      Location
      West of the town
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 8:49AM
    • What a joke, good player but the man was gifted a race horse not like Voss Hird sanderson or Hinkley come on great coach trash talk walls.

      Commenter
      BigTed
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 9:09AM
    • + 1... it's an insult to Sheeds, Malthouse and Matthews to put Bucks in their stratosphere.

      He'll last 3 years before they start pointing fingers at his sub-par seasons. I look forward to it.

      Commenter
      robbiem
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 9:27AM
    • Its all mind games. Walls is gunning for Magpies.

      Commenter
      Vincentus666
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 10:27AM
  • Crikey don't they all jump on board after one win...

    The Pies have been insipid in their losses, one big result over a vey ordinary side doesn't erase that.

    Commenter
    Cathy Little
    Location
    Prahran
    Date and time
    July 11, 2013, 10:58PM
    • NO doubt you conveniently forget to mention we have had ten senior players out injured nearly all season, take ten out of the cats and hawks and lets see how good they are, You also forget the PIes beat the mighty Cats, one of the few teams who has, beaten them three straight actually, the hawks cant beat em. !

      Commenter
      Pienschess
      Location
      Mt Evelyn
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 12:43AM
    • Gee, some people are a bit sensitive Piesnchess. Sydney has nine of their premiership players out, Fremantle and Eagles have trouble fielding a team, but do they use it as an excuse? The fact is he inherited a premiership team and it has gone down and is struggling to make the eight. Maybe some day Buckley will prove to be a great coach but it is a bit early to make that call with the evidence available.

      Commenter
      Thunder
      Location
      the sky
      Date and time
      July 12, 2013, 8:54AM

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2014 Home and Away

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RIC 98 vs CAR 86 Report Stats
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ESS 86 vs HAW 90 Report Stats
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STK 95 vs GWS 88 Stats
PTA 127 vs ADE 73 Report Stats
FRE 87 vs GCF 39 Report Stats
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BRI 68 vs GEE 93 Stats
MEL 30 vs WCE 123 Report Stats
WBU 54 vs NTH 83 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
HAW 137 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
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WBU 100 vs RIC 98 Report Stats
ADE 71 vs SYD 134 Report Stats
GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
WCE 83 vs STK 58 Report Stats
COL 76 vs GEE 87 Report Stats
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GWS 79 vs MEL 47 Report Stats
NTH 97 vs PTA 90 Report Stats
ESS 138 vs CAR 57 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 72 vs COL 110 Report Stats
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CAR 58 vs MEL 81 Report Stats
PTA 159 vs BRI 46 Report Stats
GWS 83 vs WBU 110 Report Stats
GEE 107 vs WCE 32 Report Stats
GCF 49 vs HAW 148 Report Stats
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SYD 48 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
STK 50 vs ADE 136 Report Stats
FRE 113 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
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Round 5
Thu, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs RIC 106 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 93 vs NTH 58 Report Stats
SYD 92 vs FRE 75 Report Stats
WCE 56 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
ESS 65 vs STK 81 Report Stats
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ADE 137 vs GWS 72 Report Stats
MEL 78 vs GCF 86 Report Stats
WBU 91 vs CAR 119 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 106 vs HAW 87 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
GCF 134 vs GWS 94 Report Stats
CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
PTA 107 vs GEE 67 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs SYD 123 Stats
ESS 73 vs WBU 65 Report Stats
Sun, 04 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 77 vs GCF 120 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
WCE 54 vs FRE 73 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
PTA 94 vs FRE 76 Report Stats
BRI 57 vs ESS 65 Report Stats
MEL 83 vs WBU 99 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 69 vs CAR 101 Report Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 74 vs MEL 91 Report Stats
NTH 125 vs BRI 38 Report Stats
FRE 96 vs GEE 64 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 87 vs GCF 125 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GWS 41 vs RIC 154 Report Stats
COL 109 vs WCE 101 Report Stats
PTA 100 vs HAW 86 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
GCF 119 vs WBU 74 Report Stats
CAR 81 vs ADE 76 Report Stats
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Round 11
Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 148 vs GEE 38 Report Stats
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 75 vs PTA 95 Report Stats
BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
ESS 104 vs RIC 54 Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 109 vs GCF 77 Report Stats
WBU 51 vs FRE 89 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
WCE 44 vs NTH 82 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
GWS 66 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 74 vs SYD 109 Report Stats
FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs COL 61 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 85 vs FRE 105 Report Stats
SYD 98 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
WCE 103 vs GCF 100 Report Stats
BRI 80 vs GWS 125 Report Stats
ADE 109 vs NTH 73 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 133 vs STK 37 Report Stats
COL 98 vs WBU 106 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs MEL 78 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs SYD 62 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 128 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs COL 86 Report Stats
GCF 118 vs GEE 78 Report Stats
FRE 105 vs BRI 22 Report Stats
ESS 101 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 100 vs CAR 92 Report Stats
STK 70 vs WCE 103 Report Stats
MEL 66 vs NTH 107 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89 vs ESS 80 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 116 vs GCF 63 Report Stats
STK 73 vs RIC 117 Report Stats
FRE 88 vs WCE 81 Report Stats
SYD 106 vs GWS 60 Stats
BRI 70 vs NTH 66 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
WBU 91 vs MEL 85 Report Stats
ADE 99 vs PTA 76 Report Stats
COL 91 vs CAR 76 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
PTA 60 vs ESS 62 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 151 vs STK 66 Report Stats
WCE 51 vs SYD 79 Report Stats
GEE 69 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ADE 92 vs HAW 104 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 36 vs GEE 102 Report Stats
NTH 92 vs STK 33 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs GCF 66 Report Stats
BRI 64 vs WCE 76 Report Stats
SYD 122 vs CAR 51 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 126 vs PTA 106 Report Stats
ESS 103 vs COL 39 Report Stats
FRE 136 vs GWS 60 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 109 vs NTH 86 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
STK 118 vs FRE 60 Report Stats
GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 72 vs MEL 69 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
WCE 42 vs RIC 59 Report Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI 110 vs GCF 56 Report Stats
HAW 104 vs SYD 94 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 82 vs ADE 98 Report Stats
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Round 19
Thu, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs CAR 78 Report Stats
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 79 vs ESS 57 Report Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 105 vs WCE 136 Report Stats
RIC 89 vs GWS 62 Report Stats
GCF 117 vs STK 64 Report Stats
NTH 79 vs GEE 111 Report Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 51 vs BRI 74 Stats
HAW 107 vs WBU 45 Report Stats
COL 76 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 95 vs ESS 77 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 51 vs NTH 126 Report Stats
CAR 97 vs GCF 58 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs MEL 65 Report Stats
PTA 58 vs SYD 84 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs ADE 168 Report Stats
STK 99 vs WBU 122 Report Stats
WCE 126 vs COL 66 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 76 vs GEE 82 Report Stats
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 127 vs STK 56 Stats
GCF 47 vs PTA 56 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs WCE 74 Report Stats
COL 56 vs BRI 123 Report Stats
ADE 69 vs RIC 79 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 111 vs WBU 61 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs GWS 98 Report Stats
FRE 110 vs HAW 91 Report Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 140 vs CAR 37 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 101 vs ADE 94 Report Stats
ESS 108 vs GCF 89 Report Stats
GWS 67 vs COL 75 Report Stats
WCE 119 vs MEL 53 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GEE 71 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs FRE 106 Report Stats
WBU 67 vs SYD 130 Report Stats
RIC 98 vs STK 72 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56 vs HAW 121 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs ESS 90 Stats
FRE 105 vs PTA 97 Stats
SYD 65 vs RIC 68 Stats
NTH 123 vs MEL 93 Stats
GEE 143 vs BRI 81 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
GCF 99 vs WCE 151 Stats
ADE 141 vs STK 62 Stats
WBU 109 vs GWS 115 Stats
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AFL Finals Round 1
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 104 vs GEE 68 Report Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 93 vs FRE 69 Stats
NTH 93 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
PTA 132 vs RIC 75 Report Stats
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AFL Finals Round 2
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 92 vs NTH 98 Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs PTA 105 Stats
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AFL Finals Round 3
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 136 vs NTH 65 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 97 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
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AFL Finals Round 4
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 74 vs HAW 137 Report Stats
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AFL Home and Away
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Sydney Swans 22 17 5 0 142.88 68
Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
North Melbourne 22 14 8 0 117.04 56
Essendon 22 12 9 1 106.34 50
Richmond 22 12 10 0 105.77 48
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