Buckley resigns as Pies coach
Nathan Buckley has announced his resignation as coach of Collingwood after ten years in the role, set to depart after the Queens Birthday clash with Melbourne on Monday.
Buckley was out of contract at the end of 2021, with speculation mounting that this season would be his last in charge of the club he played 260 games for in a glittering AFL career that included a Norm Smith Medal in 2002 and a Brownlow in 2003.
The 48 year old took over as Pies coach as part of a much publicised succession plan with Mick Malthouse at the end of the 2011 season, having so far coached 217 games for a record of 116 wins, 99 losses and two draws.
He coached Collingwood to the 2018 AFL Grand Final, falling five points short of premiership glory against West Coast.
Buckley has coached Collingwood to five finals series in his coaching tenure, most recently in 2020 with the Pies recording one of their finest finals triumphs over the Eagles in Perth, before being thrashed by Geelong a week later in the semi-final.
In a diabolical off-season the club lost stars Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom Phillips and Adam Treloar due to salary cap pressures, before long time President Eddie McGuire resigned from his post in February following his response to the ‘Do Better Report’ an independent review that found the club guilty of systemic racism.
The off field woes have been compounded by a poor on field performance in 2021, with Collingwood having won just three of their first 12 matches ahead of the clash with the Demons.
Board issues have also plagued the club, with incumbent President Mark Koorda and his board facing stiff opposition from former channel 9 boss Jeff Browne, who is making a run for President with a likely extraordinary general meeting to be called before the end of the year.
Buckley announced his decision to step down via a zoom press conference on Wednesday, with Robert Harvey set to coach the club for the remaining nine games of the season following the club’s bye in round 14.
“I’ve been blessed to be a part of this football club. The journey I’ve shared with Collingwood has been more deep than just being a good footballer,” Buckley said.
“I’m so grateful for the role the club has played in my life and for helping shape the person I’ve become.”
Buckley confirmed the decision to step down was his, after constant dialogue with the board and club powerbrokers, including CEO Mark Anderson and football boss Graham Wright.
“Discussions have been open and really focused on what’s best for the club now and going forward,” he said.
“We had a general sense it was time for something new, something different. A time for new growth, new energies and new voices.
When asked what’s next for the six time Collingwood best and fairest winner, Buckley said he would focus on his family.
“To be 100% available for my boys, to sit in the space and choose the direction of my life,” he said.
“I'm so thankful for the support and love I’ve received over my time and over the last hour. It’s blue sky for me.”
IMAGE: Fox Sports.