Nathan Buckley QUITS as Collingwood coach amid whirlwind romance with Australia’s hottest new WAG and one of the worst seasons in the powerhouse club’s history
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has quit midway through his 10th AFL season at the helm.
The news ends months of speculation after the Magpies said they would put off making a call on the off-contract 48-year-old’s coaching future until the second half of the season.
Buckley informed the Collingwood football department and playing group of his decision on Wednesday morning.
The club has since confirmed Buckley’s final game as Magpies coach will be the Queens’s Birthday showdown against ladder leaders Melbourne Demons at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Monday.
Buckley announced his split from his wife of 18 years Tania Minnici, last December and recently made headlines when he was pictured for the first time with his new girlfriend, cosmetic nurse Alex Pike.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has reportedly quit halfway through the AFL season
Buckley admitted it will be hard to walk away from the club which has been an integral part of his life for almost three decades.
‘I really have a great passion for this place, the people within it and the people that we represent and I have always felt that I have given to the multiple roles that I have played at the club over the last 28 years and it is a bit sad to understand that that will be coming to an end on Monday,’ he told reporters on Monday.
‘I am looking forward to the week’s preparation and looking forward to seeing what we can do against a side that is playing some pretty good footy.’
Collingwood has recorded three wins from 12 games this year and are 16th on the ladder after making the top eight last season.
Buckley was appointed head coach in 2012 with a record of 116 wins, 99 losses and two draws from 217 games, including a heartbreaking loss in the the 2018 grand final.
Buckley also played 280 AFL games and played in two losing grand finals for Collingwood against Brisbane Lions in 2002-3.
He recently backed his club’s incumbent board amid a leadership challenge from Jeff Browne.
‘It’s something that happens above my head and obviously it’s topical right here, right now, with the advent of more conversations coming out in the open,’ Buckley told reporters last Friday.
‘But I believe that most of those people have Collingwood’s best interests at heart.
‘What I would say, and for what it’s worth, I actually believe that there’s been a whole heap of change at this football club over the last three or four years in particular.
Making it official: Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and his glamorous new girlfriend Alex Pike were pictured together for the very first time in Melbourne on Wednesday
‘I think we’re a much better organisation across those years and I believe the people that are on the current board have had no small part in that progress.
‘Yes, we’re struggling at the moment on field and our win-loss doesn’t look great, and there have been some challenges in terms of the salary cap and obviously the Do Better report, which was really public.
‘But there’s been that much change that has taken place – I believe the people that are on the current board are the right people to take the club forward, and believe in time that will be vindicated.
It’s over: The pair’s relationship emerged just weeks after Nathan (left) announced his split from his wife of 18 years, Tania Minnici (pictured), last December