General Footy Writing: Tigers must resist temptation to rush in and sign Buckley

By Graham Sinclair

The mind flashes back a few years to last time that the Tigers were in the hunt for a coach. Spud Frawley had brought to the club the mediocrity he had displayed as an assistant under Tony Shaw at Collingwood. The future at Richmond was looking barren. Lack of funding, lack of talent, lack of direction.

What followed was a media circus as debate raged over who was the best candidate for the job. Unfortunately for the Tigers the decision was being made under duress. Rival clubs in similar predicaments were also in the hunt for a new coach. Namely the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn.

Terry Wallace, fresh from missing out on the job at Sydney, was seen as a proficient analyst of the game; he gave great insight into the game, albeit from the comfort of the commentary box. Tigers supporters and Hawk supporters were led to believe that he was the man for the job. From the outside it appeared there was a bidding war between the two. Who could offer Terry the best deal?

As a nervous Tiger, I remember the time well, watching the news reports, reading about the interviews. I, too, had been caught up in the belief (media hype) that Terry was the Tigers’ answer.

Five years into Terry¹s five-year contract and I feel a sense of déjà vu. Again it’s mid-season and the hunt for a coach is on. The level of playing personnel at Punt road is poor (according to some) and the wider football community is again dismissive when talking about the Tigers.

And once again a rival club (again with vertical stripes) is looking for a coach.  The effect of this extra pressure will be felt by the decision-makers at Tigerland. The race is now on between Richmond and North Melbourne to secure the right man. Port Adelaide is also looking likely to join the race.

The media again have a darling; while John Longmire’s name is still being thrown around, it would appear that Nathan Buckley is the man most wanted.

Buckley is being touted as coaching’s next big thing. This assumption is based on a playing career in which he won a Brownlow Medal and several All Australian guernseys, and showed strong leadership as Collingwood captain.

The assessment of Buckley is also based on the fact that, if Voss could do it, than surely Buckley can do it as well. Alarmingly that appears to be enough to convince most that Buckley is “right to go”.

There is also, of course, Buckley’s well-polished performances on Channel 7. Where he provides the viewer with a rich insight into the happenings of the game — from the safety of the commentary box. It’s a vantage that brings significantly less scrutiny than the coaches’ box.

While Buckley may well prove to be a successful coach, time will tell. What concerns me most is the Tigers’ temptation to take short-cuts and try to land him.  The apparent need to “win the race” to sign Buckley is overshadowing the need to make sure that the right man for the job is found.

Hopefully external pressures will not again dictate the decision on the next coach for the Tigers. I am filled with fear that the media hype surround Buckley will land him the job at Richmond, in similar circumstances to Wallace.

The Tigers need a person of outstanding quality, and integrity, somebody with a proven track record as a leader of people.  Hopefully, while the hype surrounding Buckley is playing out, the power brokers at Richmond are sticking to their process and pursuing the right man for the job. Hopefully that field includes James Hird.

About Graham Sinclair

Tigers support for whole of life. Limited plating experience in late teens into early twenties. Cut down by knee injury in off season playing indoor soccer. Now a devoted watcher of the game, using four kids as an excuse not to have time to play as the mid 30's approach.


  1. pauldaffey says

    Hi Graham, can’t say I agree with you. Buckley gives the impression of fulfilling all requirements. I suspect you just don’t like him. He and James Hird have exactly the same credentials, with the exception that Hird has been captain of a premiership team. I’m not one, like John Worsfold, who believes a premiership confers Batman, Superman and Aquaman powers on everyone who’s played in one. Sometimes you’re just lucky. Remember Daryl Freame?

  2. G.Sinclair says

    My concern is more about rushing into a decision based on public opinion. Hird ,if as you say, is a well credentialed as Buckley yet seems to receive less fanfare. Perhaps he is less vocal about being available for coaching positions… I agree with the comment about being a premiership player. Coaches that are successful seem to be deficient in some aspect of the game in their playing days (Sheedy, slow moving….) and have had to been able to problem solve to overcome these deficiencies. This process perhaps lending it self to being a good tactician in the coaching box.

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