Nathan Buckley takes the high road
Darren Jolly still dealing with "his footy mortality", says Collingwood coach, following the former player's bitter parting shots calling Buckley a "coward".PT1M17S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ybgj 620 349 November 28, 2013
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has sympathised with delisted Magpie Darren Jolly, despite the bitter dual-premiership ruckman labelling the Magpie mentor a "coward" over his sacking from the club.
Upholding an arrangement to speak on SEN radio on Thursday morning, Buckley was sympathetic to Jolly's plight, after the former Magpie, Demon and Swan was overlooked in yesterday's pre-season and rookie drafts. Jolly blasted Buckley's handling of his departure from Collingwood at the end of the 2013 season in an interview with The Age's Rohan Connolly published Wednesday night.
Estranged: Darren Jolly and Nathan Buckley. Photo: Joe Armao
"It’s probably the toughest time of a career when you’re sort of coming down the other side and it can be a really difficult period to manage," Buckley said.
"Darren’s been a fantastic player for this club for four years, a premiership player in his first year in 2010, a dual premiership player ... he’ll be feted in time. But right now he’s obviously disappointed he hasn’t been able to continue that career.
"He’s still coming to grips with his footy mortality. We just need to be sensitive of that. And understand when people are hurt and haven’t got what they want, sometimes things come out."
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire was more forthright on this issue on Thursday morning, coming to the defence of the senior coach he helped install several years ago under a controversial "handover" agreement with former coach Mick Malthouse.
McGuire admitted Jolly's parting shots at Buckley had left a "nasty taste" and were offensive to "most people in the Collingwood family".
The outspoken president could not fathom why Jolly would use a word such as "coward" to describe Buckley.
"I don't like that word at all," McGuire said on Triple M.
"That is the most inappropriate word for Nathan Buckley that you could ever use," he said.
He described its use as use of the word as "way over the odds" ... "way inappropriate".
"And they are not received well this morning, certainly by me or by most people in the Collingwood family.
Darren Jolly in happier Magpie times, with Joffa and exultant Collingwood fans after the 2010 premiership triumph. Photo: Pat Scala
"In many ways, you would have thought that Nathan's actions... in the last couple of months have been the (opposite) of being a coward – he's made the hard calls."
Buckley admitted that he would have to get better at delivering bad news to delisted players, saying "it’s not that something that I think you get used to".
Buckley said Jolly's departure meeting was difficult, but typical.
"When Rodney (Eade) and I sat in front of Darren and detailed the reasons why he wasn’t going to be offered another contract, it’s fair to say that the ears were closed pretty quickly," he said. "The conversation wasn’t really a long one, it was pretty forthright and it ended pretty quickly. But in my experience, that’s pretty common."
McGuire revealed that the column Jolly penned for Fairfax Media last May - where he accused popular former team-mate Josh Fraser of ignoring him because of on-field sledging years earlier when they were opponents - had upset many people at Collingwood.
Fraser was a member of Buckley's wedding party.
McGuire hinted that Jolly would regret his comments made for they might tarnish his legacy at the club.
"I'm not going to get into any slanging match, Darren Jolly was a great player for us, he led us in that (2010) Grand Final ... and he'll be remembered as a premiership player in due course," McGuire said.
"These words will be remembered as the last words before you walk out the door and unfortunately they are the last words Darren Jolly has said on the way out the door about possibly our greatest ever player and the coach of the Collingwood Football Club," he said.
Buckley admitted that Jolly's startling Age column had not been received well at the Westpac Centre.
"He was challenged ... from the leaders about the way he handled that situation, and it wasn’t in the best interests of the football club."
Buckley said that, far from not embracing the Sydney way of operating, as Jolly claims, he was instituting a model based on the Swans.
"In the end it comes down to leadership. We’re using the model that Sydney began a decade ago. The players vote for their own leaders. That’s something I’ve fully believed in … Darren was voted out of the leadership group in 2012."
Emphasising the "positive vibe" since players resumed training after "under-performing" in 2013, Buckley denied he was "forcing" a new culture at Collingwood.
"... Darren was right - there’s a lot of great people down at the club.
"There’s just a select few that aren’t or weren’t taking us in the right direction. And some of that was just due to the fact that bodies were starting to pack up and some guys couldn’t do what they had always done."
He said that there was a "disconnect" between media discussion and the reality of Jolly's status at the end of 2012.
Jolly was bitterly disappointed to be overlooked for Collingwood's losing Elimination Final to Port Adelaide, saying he was fit for selection. But Buckley said that by that stage, back-up Ben Hudson was next in line behind youngster Brodie Grundy.
" ... the young bloke came out of nowhere last year, Brodie Grundy, and he was fantastic for us late in the season.
"... And potentially Ben Hudson was the next bloke off the ranks for us if we thought we needed to give Brodie a rest.
"And Darren just really struggled with his body and found it really tough to deal with, and that’s where it starts and ends there’s not really much more to go into."
There has been a major turnover at Collingwood this year, with much experience leaving the club.
Former Magpie small forwards Andrew Krakouer and Alan Didak also failed to get picked up during the trade and drafting period, while premiership flanker Ben Johnson retired mid-season, elite half-back Heath Shaw was traded to Greater Western Sydney and dynamic midfielder Dale Thomas joined Carlton as a free agent.
"We believe that we’ve made decisions based on the best interests of the footy club and who’s going to take it forward," Buckley said.
"In the end the results will either speak for themselves or otherwise."
Cameron Wood, who played with Jolly at Collingwood until he was delisted at the end of the 2012 season, said today that Jolly and Buckley "got along fine" while he was at the club. Wood, 25, gained a reprieve in the rookie draft, being picked up by Buckley's predecessor as Magpie coach, Mick Malthouse, now Carlton coach.
Darren Jolly played 237 games between 2001 and 2013, playing four season at Melbourne, five at Sydney and four at Collingwood, winning flags with the Swans and Magpies.