Before he was responsible for managing our list, Graham Wright played 201 games for the club and went within one vote of winning the Brownlow in 1990.

His professional playing career started when he was selected by Collingwood in the 1987 national draft.


"It was the second ever draft and to be honest it was a dream to be considered," Wright said on the Return to the Nest podcast.

"Kevin Sheedy came down (to Tasmania) to see me and I had a number of clubs who were interested.

"In those days it was regional scouts putting up names, rather than guys flying around like recruiting staff do now.

"I played mainly as a small forward in my first year and at the end of the year I started to move into different positions.

"I kicked six against Hawthorn one day at Waverley and that Hawks side went on to win the premiership.

"I had a shot from 30 or 40 metres out to put us in front and I hit the post, that's the main thing I remember."

Almost claimed Charlie

"Leigh (Matthews) was a great coach and he scared you into playing well for him," Wright said.

"He was uncompromising, he knew how to get the best out of people and everyone moving in the one direction."

Wright was just 21 when Collingwood won its drought-breaking flag.

"I had moved to the wing in '89 - which was probably my more natural position," he said.

"I had an uninterrupted 1990 pre-season and I was really fit.

"Everywhere you looked we had high quality players."

He finished second to Tony Liberatore in the Brownlow Medal count that year.

"I had 17 votes or something, you wouldn't finish in the top 10 with that many votes now," he said.

"We had two weeks to go before our game because we'd had the draw in that first final.

"It would have been nice (to win) but at the time it didn't really matter that much.

"The game was more important."

Gavin Brown and Graham Wright celebrate a win over Hawthorn in 1998.

The flag

Wright said he finally felt confident the game was won in the last 15 minutes of the final term.

"I was young, I didn't understand all the history," he said.

"I didn't fully comprehend how big it was for people...there was a lot of people in tears and there was huge emotion.

"We were put us on a bus with a police escort to Vic Park and the streets were packed - we felt like we were The Beatles.

"The police said they had to get us out not long after we arrived because it was a worry for us to stay.

"It was a whirlwind three or four days."

Building the Hawks dynasty

When his playing career ended, Wright moved into recruiting and list management and by 2009 he was leading the recruiting team at Hawthorn.

He would later become the Hawks Football Manager.

"I look for a little bit of everything (in players)," he said.

"Kicking, competitiveness and character - that's where you start."

"I'm massive on being able to kick the footy and having good technique, poor technique will get found out."

Return to the Pies

Wright resigned from his role at Hawthorn before his current job at Collingwood was available.

"14 years is a long time, it was time for both Clarko and I to move on," he said.

"Season 2021 was really tough, I find with anything all you can do is be honest with people.

"We were not winning games, we had to go through a process of evaluating where Bucks sat.

"All he ever wanted was the right thing for the footy club."

GM of Football Graham Wright with Senior Coach Nathan Buckley in 2021.

"He's a great of this footy club and we always want to make sure everyone is treated with respect.

"We'd never want someone to feel uncomfortable about coming back."

Craig McRae

"What we were looking for was someone to develop the group and grow with them," Wright said.

"There was certain criteria - development in their background, previous success.

"We had a number of guys present to us, Voss was one of them... Kingsley just missed out on the job - we had great options.

"In the end we felt Fly's development background combined with a long build up to get to this stage was ideal.

"He has a 15 year history of coaching, he felt he was ready and he had the right temperament."

Listen to the full episode of Return to the Nest here or on Spotify.