Nathan Buckley was content.
He had the points in the bag after an impressive 24-point win against Carlton. But he still had a point to make.
After talking footy for almost nine minutes at his post-match press conference, the Collingwood mentor ended proceedings by sending a pointed message about a Herald Sun article which marked his 200th game milestone as coach.
The piece, which on a second read really didn’t contain any controversy and quite fairly noted Buckley was in uncharted territory in the AFL by failing to win a premiership in 479 games as a player or coach, ran on Saturday.
It included comments Buckley made in 2012 where he reflected on his failure to win the big one as a player.
“There is no way I can possibly fill that void,” Buckley said.
“Being a premiership player is something you get the opportunity to do while you are in the best athletic and physical years of your life. I don’t get the chance to fill that void.’’
The piece went on to credit Buckley for his “quality and persistence” and described him as being “at the top of his game” in recent years as a coach.
It even quoted former AFL coach Rodney Eade saying Buckley had “another 10 years” ahead of him as a head coach.
But it still seemed to strike a nerve with the 48-year-old.
“Can I just say something,” Buckley said to reporters. “I know there was an article in the paper the other day — I don’t want to make it all about me — (but) it was about emptiness.
“I just want to put on record my life is very far from empty.
“I don’t have a flag, I’ll be working towards it, but it’s not going to define me whether I get it or not.
“My life is very full. I’m very fortunate I’ve got a lot of love, a great club, a great group of boys and I’m looking forward to whatever the next couple of months brings.”
The article didn’t actually mention the word emptiness but by going out of his way to address it, perhaps Bucks has proved how badly he wants that flag after all.
EDDIE MCGUIRE WEIGHS IN
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire described the story as “bizarre”.
“I just couldn’t think that going into a game that had so much excitement about it that there was this negativity that Bucks had not won a premiership (at Collingwood),” he said on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.
“He’s done everything, you couldn’t have a person who could give more of himself and keep fronting up, the spirit of what football is all about.
“You miss the point in football, sometimes there’s more to it than just a premiership. You reckon at the end of this year there’s not going to be opportunities for teams to go away, 17 teams who won’t win the flag, and reflect on some really big things that have happened at the football club? The development of people, births, deaths, marriages, kids coming through.”
“I don’t know if people miss the nuances of football these days,” McGuire continued, “but to say that Nathan Buckley’s life was hollow because he hasn’t won a flag yet, talk about missing the point.”
Again, the piece didn’t use the word hollow.