Malthouse opens old AFL wounds over exit

Former Blues head coach Michael Malthouse looks on after being defeated during the round two AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Carlton Blues. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Former Blues head coach Michael Malthouse looks on after being defeated during the round two AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Carlton Blues. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

THE lingering bad blood over Collingwood’s AFL succession plan is out in the open, with Nathan Buckley certain that Mick Malthouse regards him as an enemy.

Eight years after Buckley took over from Malthouse as Collingwood coach, two of the Magpies’ most famous figures have traded barbs over what happened and how they regard each other.

It was sparked by an interview that Malthouse gave to the AFL website for his induction on Tuesday night into the Australian Football Hall Of Fame.

Hall of Fame Inductees: Back Row (L-R) Brad Hardie, Michael Deane (son of Jim), Ken Hunter. Front Row (L-R) Norma Barker (Mother of Trevor), Mick Malthouse, Andrea Evans (wife of Ron). Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

The three-time premiership coach – including Collingwood’s most recent flag in 2010 – said he had intended to stay on at Collingwood once he handed over the senior coaching role to Buckley.

Magpies president Eddie McGuire famously engineered the succession plan.

But Malthouse said Buckley did not want him in the coaches’ box or having any access to the Collingwood coaches.

“So it’s very hard to be coaching director if you can’t have access to the coaches,” Malthouse said.

He left the club soon after the 2011 grand final loss to Geelong.

While the frostiness between Malthouse and Buckley has been an open secret, until now the current coach had been diplomatic in his comments.

Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Buckley spoke his mind about Malthouse.

“Mick and I don’t get on,” he told SEN.

“He doesn’t want to know about me because I’m now an enemy in his eyes, and he will rewrite history to make sure that was always the case.”

Buckley described himself as a body on the side of the road, but the former Collingwood captain added he thinks he understands his old coach.

“He was a young kid scrapping to put that next meal on the plate and that drove him,” Buckley said.

“That was his attitude through his whole life.

“I think, understanding that, I can see the positive in who he is and what he has been able to do, let alone the numbers.”

Buckley added that Malthouse was a master manipulator with rat cunning.

The tit-for-tat continued later on Wednesday, with Malthouse telling News Corp he was “shocked” by Buckley’s comments.

“That is so disappointing – I have never treated him as an enemy in my life,” Malthouse said.

Mick Malthouse poses during the 2019 Australian Football Hall of Fame Dinner at Crown Palladium. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

AFL super coach Malthouse in Hall of Fame

Mick Malthouse rode the highs and lows that inevitably come with coaching at the highest level.

And the West Coast and Collingwood AFL premiership coach’s extraordinary career was saluted on Tuesday night with his induction into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Malthouse was among six inductees at the ceremony in Melbourne, where 1985 Brownlow Medallist Brad Hardie and Carlton champion Ken Hunter were also recognised.

St Kilda legend Trevor Barker, SANFL great Jim Deane and former AFL chairman and Essendon president Ron Evans were inducted posthumously.

The all-time record holder for most VFL/AFL games coached, Malthouse’s tenure spanned three decades and 718 games at Footscray, West Coast, Collingwood and Carlton.

Malthouse also played 174 VFL games for St Kilda and Richmond, where he was a premiership player in 1980.

But it was as a coach that he truly made his mark, leading fledgling West Coast to the grand final in 1991 then premierships in 1992 and 1994.

Malthouse coached the Eagles throughout the 1990s and remarkably led them to the finals in every season.

He took over at Collingwood in 2000 and guided the Magpies to grand finals in 2002, 2003 and 2010, when the Pies famously drew with St Kilda before prevailing in the replay a week later.

West Coast coach Mick Malthouse with players in 1996. Picture: Tony Feder/ALLSPORT

With club president Eddie McGuire having engineered a succession plan for the coaching reins to be handed to Nathan Buckley, Malthouse departed on acrimonious terms after Collingwood lost the 2011 premiership decider to Geelong.

An ill-fated stint at Carlton ended with Malthouse sacked midway through his third season in 2015, having overtaken Jock McHale’s record for most games coached.

“Of course there’s regrets. And you grow from regrets,” Malthouse said in his acceptance speech.

“I wouldn’t change anything. My personality’s my personality. I’ll live and die by who I am.”

West Coast captain John Worsfold and coach Mick Malthouse celebrate with the Premiership Trophy after the AFL Grand Final in 1994. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images

Footscray, Brisbane and South Fremantle utility Hardie was the most recent retiree among the playing inductees.

He made his senior debut for South Fremantle aged 16 under Mal Brown, and played in South Fremantle’s 1980 WAFL premiership.

He crossed to the VFL in 1985, winning the Brownlow in his first season, before his relationship with Malthouse soured and he headed north to expansion side Brisbane in 1987.

He played 101 games with the Bears and finished his career at Collingwood.

For the past 27 years Hardie has been a commentator on radio and he said he was thrilled by his induction.

“You don’t seek out these things or anything, but it’s just terrific recognition of what you’ve been able to do, and when you get to my age you reflect a lot,” Hardie said.

“It’s very pleasing.”

Inductee Ken Hunter addresses the room during the 2019 Australian Football Hall of Fame Dinner. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Fellow West Australian Hunter was best and fairest in Carlton’s 1981 premiership season and went on to win flags in 1982 and 1987.

Hunter began his career at Claremont, where he played from 1975 until 1980.

Former Saints captain Barker was a favourite son at the club who was lauded for his loyalty in sticking with the club despite its prolonged lack of success.

Barker died in 1996, aged just 39, with the Saints subsequently naming their best and fairest award after him.

Deane’s post-war SANFL career included six best and fairest awards for South Adelaide, while Evans served as AFL chairman from 1998 until 2006.

Brisbane triple-premiership star and 2002 Brownlow Medallist Simon Black was unanimously endorsed by the selection committee but an “overseas commitment” – believed to be the filming of a reality TV show – means he will instead be inducted next year.

Troubled former West Coast star and 2005 Brownlow Medallist Ben Cousins was snubbed again and appears destined to remain on the outer.

The AFL will elevate an existing Hall of Fame member to Legend status at next year’s ceremony.

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