With hearts heavy Nathan Buckley and Collingwood have agreed to part ways.
After almost 10 seasons and 217 matches in charge, Buckley will coach the team for the last time next Monday when Collingwood meets Melbourne at the SCG.
“Everything has it’s time and the club and I have reached ours,” Buckley said.
“Graham (Wright) and I have been in conversation consistently in the last few months about what the path forward is for the program and what it needs to progress.
“When it came to the senior coaching role it became clear that a clean slate, for new energies and a new voice, was necessary. So that is what has been decided.
“I’ve loved every moment of my time at the club and in any role I have given my all to it. This program is full of so many great people who are committed and connected to one another absolutely.
“I’ll miss being a part of that but will always feel like a part of me is left with them. I sincerely wish all of the staff, coaches and players every success.”
Collingwood ceo Mark Anderson paid tribute to Buckley’s near three decades of service to Collingwood and especially his commitment to always place the interests of the club first.
“True greatness doesn’t depend on how long or how much or how many but on the legacy of those things. What they stand for. And to Collingwood people Nathan Buckley stands for just about everything they want the black and white striped jumper to represent,” Anderson said.
“This is a tough day for our club. While we can all see the wisdom in moving on, we know that he will be missed. He is a towering figure in the history of Collingwood.
“Our discussions were all based around what was good for the club and for Nathan, who reminded us all, regularly, that Collingwood had to come first. That is one of the many reasons why he will be forever Collingwood. On behalf of our club, I thank him.”
Collingwood GM of Football, Graham Wright, added his thanks.
“Nathan is a person of the highest quality, with great morals and values. In all of our discussions he was only ever interested in ‘the best thing for the football club’ and once we were both clear on that we had further discussions with Mark (Anderson) and the board to finalize how and when was the best time,” Wright said.
“On behalf of the entire club, I want to acknowledge and thank him for his selflessness and utter decency.”
After the match against Melbourne, Robert Harvey will succeed Buckley as interim senior coach for the remainder of the season.
A five person panel will have responsibility for the process of appointing a permanent successor. The panel will consist of Mark Anderson, Graham Wright, football director Paul Licuria and fellow board member Peter Murphy.
The fifth member, who is yet to be appointed, will be an experienced football person who has previously been involved in the selection of senior coaches.
Buckley’s contribution to Collingwood as a player and coach is one that few – and none in the modern era – have bettered.
He played 260 matches for the club, winning six Copeland Trophies, Brownlow and Norm Smith medals and seven All-Australian blazers. He captained the club for nine seasons.
There is no more decorated Collingwood playing career.
Buckley retired at the end the 2007 season and spent two seasons in the media before returning to the club as an assistant coach in preparation for his appointment as senior coach from 2012.
He led Collingwood through five finals campaigns and into the 2018 grand final. He won 116 of the 217 matches he coached, with a winning record of 54 per cent.
In all, Buckley played or coached in 477 matches for Collingwood.