OPINION

Collingwood kingpin Eddie McGuire has the season's boot in mouth award sewn up

Controversy is never far away from Eddie McGuire, however, several times during the pandemic he has invited a media storm after his comments. Photo: Getty Images/Michael Willson
Controversy is never far away from Eddie McGuire, however, several times during the pandemic he has invited a media storm after his comments. Photo: Getty Images/Michael Willson

McGuire finds balancing act increasingly difficult during these tough times

For more than 20 years Eddie McGuire has successfully straddled the blurred line of being a consummate media performer and club president.

McGuire has handled the conflict of interest with flair and panache, but in these tough times, he is finding the balancing act to be increasingly difficult.

Controversy is never far away from McGuire, but several times during this pandemic he has invited a media storm almost immediately after his comments.

If there was a boot in mouth award this season, McGuire would have it won by the length of the Flemington straight.

The latest gaffe came last week when he called for individuals to be held responsible for their breaches of the league's COVID-19 protocols and later claimed the AFL should consider sending transgressors home from their hubs.

Less than a day after Carlton, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Richmond were hit with fines came the stunning revelation that Collingwood coach and McGuire's close friend Nathan Buckley and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson would be fined for playing tennis with two people living outside the club's Perth hub including former Australian champion Alicia Molik.

Earlier this year, McGuire implored Geelong to reveal details of an incident in which Cats midfielder Jack Steven was stabbed, prompting Cats chiefs to tell the Collingwood president to butt out of their business. But just over a month later he was roundly criticised for saying he was "proud" of Collingwood vice-captain Steele Sidebottom's reaction to his four-game suspension after he breached the COVID-19 protocols during a night out drinking.

While the Western Bulldogs stripped Lachie Hunter of the vice-captaincy as well as being fined and suspended for four matches after his drunken night out in April, Collingwood did not take the same action, with Sidebottom maintaining his leadership role.

McGuire's penchant for landing in hot water with his public comments has escalated in the past decade, most notably in 2013 when he made offensive remarks about former Sydney champion Adam Goodes.

The radio and TV host immediately apologised to Goodes, claiming at the time that he was tired and later revealing he was on prescription drugs.

McGuire's contribution to football and his beloved Collingwood has been enormous with the promotion and devotion to the game through his considerable media interests and assets.

His opinion is highly sought after on a range of issues but the Magpies president needs to think before he speaks, particularly about opposition clubs, or risk becoming an embarrassment to himself and the club.

Maybe these incidents should act as a clear message for McGuire, who is 56 in October, to cut back his busy schedule and stop being Eddie Everywhere.

The Magpies' shock loss to Fremantle last Sunday capped off a disastrous 48 hours for McGuire, Buckley and Sanderson.

Marvellous Majak and 'Nic Nat'

Amid all the gloom and doom, Majak Daw's triumphant AFL return last Saturday was heartwarming.

North Melbourne's Majak Daw takes a mark during his return match against the Adelaide Crows. Photo: Getty Images/Chris Hyde

North Melbourne's Majak Daw takes a mark during his return match against the Adelaide Crows. Photo: Getty Images/Chris Hyde

Playing his first game in almost two years after suffering serious hip and pelvic injuries in a fall from Melbourne's Bolte Bridge, Daw provided the highlight of North Melbourne's big victory when he kicked a goal in the final term at Metricon Stadium and was embraced by his excited Kangaroos teammates.

Two months ago the powerful Roo suffered another setback when he tore his right pectoral muscle during a gym training session, but the injury did not require surgery and the determined Daw worked tirelessly towards his aim of returning to the field.

While on the subject of memorable comebacks, West Coast star Nic Naitanui has not missed a game this season and his impact was underlined in his team's victory over Geelong. Restricted to only five games last season because of knee and ankle complaints, 'Nic Nat' thrilled the Optus Stadium crowd with another excellent ruck display.

Naitanui does not need to have many possessions to make a difference, with his agility on the ground and combination with teammates such as skipper Luke Shuey, Dom Sheed, Tim Kelly and Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy a sight to behold.

Let's hope Daw and Naitanui continue to play well - they are the feel-good stories that the game needs.

Question of the week

John Dowling, of Ulverstone, Tasmania, asks: Is the AFL secretly hoping all will go pear-shaped on the eastern seaboard and the league finally can get its wish of a night grand final starting in Perth at 3pm?

John, I suspect there are many at the AFL, particularly Western Australian-based AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder, who would be salivating at the prospect of a grand final in WA. With the time difference, the game would be played between 6-9pm AEST on TV and the advertising dollars would roll in. But it appears Queensland is the frontrunner if the grand final can't be played in Melbourne, with several key AFL officials relocating there for the remainder of the season. Another stumbling block could be the name of the venue in WA, Optus Stadium, as one of the AFL's major sponsors Telstra would not be pleased the season's showpiece game would be played there.

  • This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.