The footy gods: Hubris

By Ian Latham


The ancient Greeks knew one thing. Do not pretend to be one of  the footy gods. They called that hubris. And if you were found to be hubristic, well, that meant trouble; with a capital T. Nemesis would fly down to find you. She  would spin her wheel of fortune and if you were lucky you could get the box of cash. If you were unlucky you could spend the rest of your life proving to humanity how short and miserable a human life could be.

It wasn’t always easy to follow this rule because you weren’t always sure who was a god anyway. It was pretty clear if they flew down from the sky and hurled thunderbolts at you but sometimes they took human form or animal disguise. As far as you knew, they could be pretending to be a black and white bird or a game show host.

You can see hubris in a lot of footy people. Like coaches for one. Think of Mick Malthouse. A coach who decides that he is going to tell the footy gods that he wants to coach again. Well, that can be seen as a big mistake if the footy gods think that the deal has been done and there’s no need to change it. And to make it worse, to do it on national TV. You can almost hear the whirring of the wings and the rattle of the wheel.

It’s not like Mick doesn’t know these things. He reads a lot. He quotes philosophers who most footy fans have never heard of. But does he know his place? That’s the real question.  And what might be the punishment? You could probably pour molten lead upon Mick and it wouldn’t make him blink. But exile him from the footy field on game day? That’s a punishment that only the footy gods could dream up.




  1. Andrew Fithall says:

    Further to your article Ian, Gerard Whateley writing about Mick Malthouse on ABC The Drum

  2. If ever there was a time for a coach to NOT leave a club, it is now at Collingwood.

    If ever there was a time for a first-time coach to take over a club, it is now at Collingwood.

    Is the success of Collingwood over the past two years because Mick’s plans finally came together, or because of the deal done with Buckley and the fact that Buckley was appointed as an assistant?

    If Magpies win the flag this year, but not next year, will it be because Buckley is not as good a coach as Mick, or because the wheels have turned and other Clubs have caught up?

    Its fascinating watching this unfold, but how much of an impact will it have in the final wash-up? Matthew Primus and Chris Scott are both first year coaches. Is it because Scott is so superior a coach to Primus that the Cats are streets ahead of them, or is it because of what each inherited?

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Ian, you are spot on about Malthouse. As a Post-Modern Ancient Greek sympathizer I believe that Malthouse is lucky to have been allowed to coach this team to a flag.

    Thankfully, Zeus McGuire , Apollo Buckley and Hermes Hine cancel out Mick’s hubris…for the time being.;

  4. Skip of Skipton says:

    Very interesting. I bleeve in the footy gods and bleeve in the Fates attached to certain folk (N.Buckley) and also the aphorism of ‘don’t fix what aint broke’.

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Skip, it was broke until Buckley came along. There is no way that Malthouse would’ve coached a Premiership side without Bucks’ and Eddie’s psychological and strategic input. Of that a I’m convinced.

  6. johnharms says:

    PB, This was a topic of conversation on Offsiders the other morning as well. I felt the Malthouse respnses lacked logic. We mentioned the difficulty of establishing cause and effect in sporting organisations – especially for team sports – because there are so many off-field parameters even before you start to get your head around the chaos and possibility of the on-field stuff. I agree with Phil that the most obvious change in Collingwood has been the arrival of Nathan Buckley. I was never a Buckley fan. He was at Brisbane briefly and I probably formed my view then, and had it confirmed in the type of on-field leader he was (why aren’t you more like me style leadership) at Collingwood. However I am a big fan now, because I reckon he has shown the capacity to develop genuine self-awareness and self-criticism. I find him likable. And I used to enjoy his commentary on Friday nights in years past. A lot more than Voss’s stating of the bleeding obvious stuff on those Saturday nights.

    Ian, thanks for the piece. Most enjoyable. I reckon there were numerous moments which would have furrowed the brow of a god or two. I thought I heard the term ‘dynasty’ used at one stage. I got the impression that MM thought Collingwood were good things this year. And that he was making sure we knew his role in it all.

  7. forwardpocket says:

    I’m sure the flag had a lot more to do with the recruitment of jolly and ball and a great injury free run than Buckley coaching the forwards. We almost lost the first grand final due to the forward line. This year, with Buckley no longer coaching them we look better up forward than ever.

  8. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    FP, absolute validity in what you say about Jolly and Ball. I doubt that we’d have won the flag without Jolly. I hope his ‘illness’ is minor. I still reckon that Buckley’s intensity and intelligence gave our forward line a sharper edge last year (besides the first GF). The ball has been coming out easier this year against the better sides.

    When Mick had a greater say in recruiting we got Chad and Billy Morrison. Enough said.

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