Nathan Buckley

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Nathan Buckley
Nathan Buckley.jpg
Nathan Buckley as a celebrity racer
at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix
Personal information
Full name Nathan Charles Buckley
Nickname(s) Bucks, The Great One, The Favourite Son
Date of birth (1972-07-26) 26 July 1972 (age 41)
Place of birth Adelaide, Australia
Original team Port Adelaide (SANFL)
Draft Zone Selection, Brisbane Bears
Height/Weight 186cm / 91kg
Position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current club Collingwood
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1994 – 2007
Brisbane Bears
020 0(21)
260 (263)
280 (284)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1997 The Allies
International team honours
1999 Australia 2
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2012– Collingwood 48 (31–17–0)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 2007 season.
Career highlights



Nathan Charles Buckley (born 26 July 1972) is a former professional Australian rules football player, commentator and coach, best known for his time as captain of the Collingwood Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). He is currently the senior coach of the Collingwood Football Club.

He is listed by journalist Mike Sheahan as one of the top 50 players of all time.[1] Buckley won the inaugural Rising Star Award, in 1993, then went on to become one of the game's elite, captaining Collingwood between 1999 and 2007,[2] winning the Norm Smith Medal for best player afield in the 2002 Grand Final despite playing in the losing team, only the third player in history to do so, the Brownlow Medal in 2003, winning Collingwood's Best and Fairest award, the Copeland Trophy, six times[2] and named in the Collingwood Team of the Century. Buckley was selected in the All-Australian Team team seven times and captained the Australian international rules football team against Ireland.

In 2004 Buckley became an original inductee into the Collingwood Hall of Fame.[3] He retired at the conclusion of the 2007 AFL season and became a commentator for the Seven Network. After months of speculation, the Collingwood Football Club signed Buckley as an assistant coach for seasons 2010 and 2011 and as senior coach in 2012[2] for three years.

Playing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Nathan Buckley was born in suburban Adelaide, South Australia on 26 July 1972.[4] His family travelled around Australia quite frequently, and by the age of 12, Buckley had been to all major states on the Australian mainland. He grew up supporting Melbourne Football Club.[citation needed] However, Buckley spent the majority of his football developing years (aged around 10–17) in the Northern Territory, and thus has occasionally been regarded as a Territorian (he also played at the Ainslie Football Club in the Canberra-based ACTAFL for a season). Under the (now defunct) State of Origin competition he was considered of North Territory origin and selected for The Allies team, an amalgamation of players from Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

Port Adelaide (SANFL)[edit]

Buckley's footballing talents were noticed from an early age. He joined South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club Port Adelaide where, in 1992, he won his only senior premiership as well as the Magarey Medal (the SANFL's league best and fairest), the Jack Oatey Medal (best on ground in the SANFL Grand Final), and his club best and fairest.

Brisbane Bears[edit]

In early 1992 struggling Australian Football League (AFL) club Brisbane Bears drafted him through its Northern Territory state zone. Buckley challenged the AFL draft system and sparked controversy by initially resisting a move to Brisbane. His dreams were to play in Melbourne due to its culture in the sport, therefore felt the Bears were an undesirable career option. However AFL draft rules prevented him from playing with another AFL club and so remained in the SANFL.

Buckley signed with the Bears for the 1993 AFL season as part of a deal between Buckley and the Bears that allowed him to go to the club of his choice the following season. Brisbane hoped his time in Queensland would be long enough to change his mind. Buckley immediately demonstrated his potential, playing 20 games, kicking 21 goals and impressing with his general play. He was the inaugural winner of the Norwich Rising Star Award and finished a close second in the Bears' best-and-fairest award.


During his first season Buckley's arrangement with the Bears became common knowledge. At the end of the contract he attracted strong interest from all Melbourne-based clubs, chiefly Collingwood, Geelong and North Melbourne. However, it was Collingwood that successfully arranged a trade deal acceptable to all parties. Unbeknown to other AFL clubs and to the AFL itself, Collingwood and Brisbane had already agreed to make the trade happen.[citation needed] Collingwood selected ten players on its list who were "untouchable", and the Bears could take any two players outside this list, as well as the Collingwood Magpies' first round draft pick, in exchange for Buckley. The move saw Buckley move to Collingwood in exchange for Craig Starcevich, Troy Lehmann and the Magpies' first-round draft pick (no. 12, future double-premiership player Chris Scott).

Buckley was adamant that the move was the right career direction, with the belief he had more chance of winning a premiership with Collingwood[citation needed]. Ironically, Brisbane would beat Collingwood in two consecutive AFL Grand Finals in 2002 and 2003. In his first season with Collingwood, the Magpies were eliminated by the West Coast Eagles by two points in Perth.

From here, Buckley would be a consistent performer for Collingwood. As well as winning a Brownlow Medal in 2003, he finished in the top three twice before the turn of the century. He was also named Collingwood's Best and Fairest six times in 10 years (including one tied),[2] as well as six consecutive years in the All-Australian Team from 1996 to 2002.

In 1999, Buckley suffered a broken jaw playing against Carlton in Round 2. He returned in Round 8 to help Collingwood to their first win of the season and their first in 13 matches. Collingwood finished the season last, only the second time in their history (the other being in 1976). Buckley also competed in the last game at Collingwood's long-time home ground Victoria Park.

Collingwood captain[edit]

In 1999, coach Tony Shaw made Buckley the Collingwood captain, replacing the still-active Gavin Brown who was to mentor Buckley in the role until retirement. Throughout the late 1990s/early 2000s Collingwood had several major changes in personnel. Eddie McGuire became president of club in 1998 and Mick Malthouse was appointed coach in 2000.[5] Collingwood finishing 15th in 2000 and ninth in 2001, with Buckley starring in both seasons. In Round 2, 2001, Buckley set a record by amassing 46 disposals, the highest total since quarters were shortened to twenty minutes in 1994 AFL season, this remained the record until Round 10 2009, when surpassed by Dane Swan (48 disposals).

In 2002 Collingwood made the AFL Grand Final for the first time during Buckley's tenure at the club. On Grand Final day at the MCG, Buckley starred in a losing team, winning the Norm Smith Medal; he was the first Norm Smith Medallist from a losing team since Gary Ablett in 1989. Buckley removed the Norm Smith Medal from around his neck while descending the dais, symbolic of his disappointment and dedication to the team.

In 2003, Buckley received his highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal in a three-way tie with fellow South Australian born players Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide) and Adam Goodes (Sydney). The following Saturday Buckley played in his second losing grand final, with Collingwood losing to the Brisbane Lions. Buckley was his team's leading ball winner, with 24 disposals.[5]

After perhaps the best season of his stellar career in 2003, the Magpie skipper endured a 2004 and 2005 season he would rather forget. He started the season in usual domineering fashion in the opening three rounds, but missed seven of the next eight matches with hamstring problems. When he returned, he appeared to play under duress, spending more time across half-forward or half-back. Buckley was honoured with life membership of the Collingwood Football Club in 2004.

During the 2006 season, Buckley was awarded AFL Life Membership after playing his 300th official match since his debut in 1992, comprising 267 premiership games, 24 preseason games, four state of origin games and four international rules games.

Buckley was rested twice during the season, once for the match against West Coast at Subiaco in Round 7, and again in the Round 21 clash against Carlton. At the end of the 2006 season Buckley indicated the possibility of him standing down as captain of the club, saying that James Clement might be a likely choice for the position.[citation needed] Clement later said he did not wish to become captain.[citation needed] Collingwood President Eddie McGuire played down any rumours of Buckley standing aside.[citation needed]

Following serious hamstring problems, Buckley played his first game of 2007 playing for the Williamstown Seagulls in the VFL on 18 August 2007.[6] He was judged best on ground, gathering 29 possessions and kicking four goals.

He returned to the Collingwood side the following week and played in the club's two remaining home-and-away games and all three finals, including its 18 point semi-final win against West Coast in extra time, and its five point loss against Geelong in the preliminary final where he was sitting on the bench in disappointment when the final siren sounded. Three weeks later, on 5 October 2007, Buckley announced his retirement.[7]

Notable matches[edit]

Collingwood vs Fremantle Round 15, 1997, at Victoria Park: In his 100th senior match, Buckley had 43 possessions, many of which were goal assists to full forward Sav Rocca. The effort helped to break the club's seven match losing streak, a 10-goal final term ensuring a 100 point victory on the Magpies home ground, Victoria Park.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Fremantle Round 8, 1999, at the MCG: Collingwood had not won a match all season. Buckley was sidelined between rounds three and seven due to a broken jaw, suffered in a clash with Carlton's Justin Murphy in round two. Upon return, Buckley dominated against the Dockers with three goals and 26 disposals. He was awarded three Brownlow votes. The match was also notable for the debut of Tarkyn Lockyer.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Adelaide Round 2, 2000, at the MCG: It was Collingwood's second premiership season match under new coach Mick Malthouse. Scores were close all match in a tight contest. Buckley was awarded three Brownlow votes after gathering 31-disposals and three goals. Paul Williams and Sav Rocca scored five goals each. Collingwood won by eleven points.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Fremantle Round 2, 2001, at Colonial Stadium: Buckley collected a career high 46 possessions and scored two goals Collingwood beat the Dockers by 17 points at Colonial Stadium, Collingwood's first victory of the season. Buckley's 46 possessions was a record since 1994 when quarters were shortened to twenty minutes. Gary Ablett jnr. (Geelong) equalled this on 18 April 2009 vs Adelaide on round 4. The record was beaten by Dane Swan (Collingwood) on 31 May 2009 vs Port Adelaide on round 10 with 48 touches.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Adelaide Round 13, 2001, at Football Park Buckley scored two goals and had 37 possessions. His effort helped Collingwood beat the Crows by two points. This was the first of five straight wins against Adelaide.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Brisbane, Grand Final 2002, at the MCG The 2002 Grand Final will go down as perhaps Nathan Buckley's finest performance in the Collingwood jumper.[citation needed] Buckley had 32 disposals, and kicked a goal in the third quarter, from the boundary line, to give his side the lead. Buckley was adjudged the Norm Smith Medallist of 2002.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Essendon, Round 5 2003, at the MCG: Collingwood lost the match by 66 points but Buckley was awarded two Bronlow Medal votes, winning 37 possessions, laying four tackles, and scoring long range goal in the second term.[citation needed]

Rounds 13–17 2003 In the mid-season encounters with the Western Bulldogs, the Kangaroos, Fremantle, Richmond and Carlton, Buckley hit the longest and strongest purple patch of his illustrious career. With Collingwood faltering in the middle of the ladder, with six wins and six losses after the halfway mark of the season, Buckley kicked up a gear, taking his team with him. Winning 10 Brownlow votes over the five-week stretch, Buckley's brilliance was on display for all to see, setting up a number of attacks on-ball, ably supported by the excellent form of Scott Burns, Paul Licuria and Shane Woewodin.[citation needed]

Collingwood vs Brisbane, Round 10 2006: With his hamstrings failing him, Buckley was positioned in attack in the latter stages of 2005, and by the midway point of 2006 played most of his football forward, with the ability to still play short bursts in the midfield. Buckley's career-best six goals (and 29-possessions) arguably won the match for the Magpies; their first win over Brisbane since the 2003 Qualifying Final.[citation needed]

Coaching career[edit]

After months of speculation, Buckley signed a 5 year deal with the Collingwood Football Club. He was the assistant coach for the seasons of 2010 and 2011; he then became head coach in 2012,[2] having taken over from Mick Malthouse, initially signing for a period of three years.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Buckley was involved in the AFL "Laws of the Game" or Rules Committee until he controversially resigned.[9]

On New Year's Eve 2002 Buckley married Tania Minnici who is known for wearing revealing gowns to the Brownlow Medal. The couple have two sons; Jett Charles, who was born on 22 December 2006 and Ayce Dominic, who was born on 21 September 2008.

Buckley now lives in a $4m house in Toorak with his wife, children and black pug, Big.[10]

Buckley has also moved into harness racing and is the owner of the Group One winner Hurricane Jett, a pacer named after his oldest son and trained by highly successful trainer and Collingwood supporter Jayne Davies.

On 24 September 2008, Nathan Buckley's autobiography, All I Can Be, was published in Australia by Penguin Group (Australia).


Buckley has made several appearances on the AFL Footy Show as a panelist.

He was the central character in an advertising campaign by wireless broadband provider Unwired.

Buckley signed as a commentator with the Seven Network for the 2008 AFL season, and continued commentating in 2009.

He made an appearance as a celebrity racer at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, in which he came second overall.


Brownlow Medal

  • Winner – 2003 (3 way tie)
  • 2nd – 1998
  • 3rd – 1999 (equal)
  • 5th – 1996 (equal), 2000 (equal)

Australian Football League

Collingwood Football Club

  • Best & Fairest 1994 (equal), 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003
  • RT Rush Trophy 1997
  • JJ Joyce Trophy 2001
  • Collingwood Team Of The Century
  • Club captain 1999–2007

Brisbane Bears Football Club

  • 2nd Best and Fairest 1993

Representative Honours

South Australian National Football League



  1. ^ Mike Sheahann's top 50 players. (2006-03-06). Retrieved on 2012-09-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e Collingwood Football Club. Honour Roll. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  3. ^ Hall of Fame – Official AFL Website of the Collingwood Football Club. (2004-04-03). Retrieved on 2012-09-07.
  4. ^ Buckley, Nathan (2008). All I Can Be. Melbourne: Penguin. p. 8. ISBN 1742281710. 
  5. ^ a b Lovett, Michael (2005). AFL Record Guide to Season 2005. Melbourne: Australian Football League. pp. 90–93, 736. ISBN 0958030065. 
  6. ^ Buckley's comeback will be via VFLThe Age, 2007-08-15
  7. ^ Buckley calls it a day – Official AFL Website of the Collingwood Football Club. (2007-10-06). Retrieved on 2012-09-07.
  8. ^ Pies' double act. (2009-07-28). Retrieved on 2012-09-07.
  9. ^ Buckley resigns from committee – AFL – Fox Sports. (2007-05-04). Retrieved on 2012-09-07.
  10. ^ Rindfleisch, Tony (2007-04-08). "Magpie flies to ritzy Toorak". Sunday Herald Sun. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gavin Brown
Collingwood Football Club captain
Succeeded by
Scott Burns
Preceded by
Jason Dunstall
The Allies captain
Succeeded by
Daryn Cresswell
Preceded by
Wayne Carey
Australian international rules football team captain
Succeeded by
James Hird
Preceded by
Robert Harvey
Matthew Primus
All-Australian Team vice-captain
Succeeded by
Michael Voss
Warren Tredrea
Preceded by
Mick Malthouse
Collingwood Football Club coach
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Mark Naley
Magarey Medallist
Succeeded by
Brenton Phillips
Preceded by
Darel Hart
Jack Oatey Medallist
Succeeded by
Steven Sziller
New award AFL Rising Star
Succeeded by
Chris Scott
Preceded by
Mick McGuane
Copeland Trophy winner
Succeeded by
Saverio Rocca
Preceded by
Saverio Rocca
Copeland Trophy winner
Succeeded by
Gavin Brown
Preceded by
Matthew Richardson
Alex Jesaulenko Medallist
Succeeded by
Shane Crawford
Preceded by
Gavin Brown
Copeland Trophy winner
Succeeded by
Paul Licuria
Preceded by
Shaun Hart
Norm Smith Medallist
Succeeded by
Simon Black
Preceded by
Simon Black
Brownlow Medallist
Succeeded by
Chris Judd
Preceded by
Paul Licuria
Copeland Trophy winner
Succeeded by
James Clement
New award AFL Coaches' Association
Champion Player of the Year

Succeeded by
Warren Tredrea