In mid-December during an online forum for members, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire made the shock announcement that he would be stepping down at the end of the 2021 season. It was reported that he was choking back tears when he made the announcement. McGuire said, “I have given everything I have to this position. Now it is time for me to set the platform for the club going forward ... I will ... spend the rest of my time ... setting up a new era ... In conjunction with the change in direction of my media life and the timing of my son’s schooling ending, the time was right and the future strong for our club for me to make this call.” During his time as president, he never once was challenged for the role when he was up for re-election.
2021 will be his 23rd season at the helm, the third-longest club president in league history, behind Collingwood’s Harry Curtis (27 years) and Geelong’s Jack Jennings (26 years).
It is the end of an incredible era of success and influence by a club president in the league’s history. It also signals a changing of the guard at the Magpies after football boss Geoff Walsh announced his retirement. McGuire, 56, assumed the presidency in 1999 when the club finished dead last. That was the last time the Magpies finished last. This was on top of his many media commitments - not least of which was his role as host of the still-running Footy Show , which he left some years ago. During his time presiding over the Magpies, he has been a commentator and host on Fox Footy and just finished an 11 year stint as co-host of Triple M’s Hot Breakfast. As well as the Footy Show on Melbourne's Channel Nine, he also hosted the program Footy Classified.
McGuire oversaw plenty of changes. Following Tony Shaw’s departure as coach at the end of 1999, McGuire helped recruit new coach Mick Malthouse, who led the club’s surge up the ladder. Under Malthouse, the Pies reached the Grand Final n 2002 and 2003 - both lost to the then rampaging Brisbane Lions. Malthouse finally got the Pies to the ultimate success in 2010 in dramatic fashion with the first game ending in tie - forcing a replay (the AFL changed the rules after that, with overtime added for any future tied Grand Finals). Malthouse got them into the 2011 GF - a loss to Geelong. It was McGuire who helped the orchestrated succession plan which would see Malthouse mentor then assistant Nathan Buckley into the senior coach role. Malthouse was not interested and walked away. Despite intense scrutiny in 2017, McGuire and the club stuck with Buckley and reappointed him. He repaid that faith by again getting the Pies into the 2018 Grand Final, again a loss to the West Coast Eagles. The club also moved from their antiquated home at Victoria Park to the much more advanced and modern facility at the Lexus Center. They also introduced an AFLW team.
Here is part of his speech: "Before we move on to the forum ... I’d like to ask for your indulgence. Back in 1998, it was my time to stand up for our beloved Collingwood. Instead of calling on others to do something ... fate turned my way. I’m proud that I answered. I’ve given everything I have ... now it is time for me to set the platform for the club going forward ... I have given commitments to sponsors, governments and many people that I will remain at the helm in 2021, but I will do so now with the responsibility of providing a smooth transition and a springboard into the future for our club and its senior leadership position. I had planned to make this announcement during the course of the year but COVID put paid to many finely laid plans. In conjunction with the change of direction in my media life and the timing of my son’s schooling ending, the time was right and the future strong for our club and for me to make this call. I have much to do before I hand on the baton. Together with my board and executive, we are set to announce significant landmark initiatives in the area of equality, the fight against racism - all types - to ensure Collingwood is a safe and welcoming environment for all ... We are finalizing plans on redevelopment of the Holden Center and the building of Victoria Sports - a world leading play in medicine rehabilitation, concussion research and telehealth. It will give our players in all our codes access to the best research and development in these areas in conjunction with our partners Monash University, the federal government ... and the state government ... We are also pushing into grassroots development of sports and health ... These plays will generate so many benefits for our club and the community."
“To the future of the board: Despite the ill-informed views of some, we have an active nominations committee ... who meet to discuss skillsets required for a board and the identification of talent. It has been an interesting experience over the years speaking to many people ... there is never a perfect time to be the president of a football club - and certainly not emerging from a pandemic. So I won’t be handing off a hospital handball. That is why I’m making this announcement tonight. To give interested parties and ... people we are interested in time to get their affairs in order and for me and my board to have the opportunity of providing a Barack Obama-style transition, rather than a Donald Trump experience. The club is in great shape. We continue to evolve and push ourselves and I can assure you, this will not be a farewell tour on my part. I’m anxious to push reform and continue to build this club and to win the premiership in 2021. So in the meantime, it is business as usual. My passion and love and energy for Collingwood remains undiminished. My care for the competition remains deep and abiding. Before I stood up here tonight, only my wife Carla and sons Joe and Xander were privy to my decision ... There will be more appropriate forums to thank people and extrapolate on my love for the club in due course. There will always be a reason to go on. Another idea, another campaign, another battle. But in due course it’ll be with another president. So let’s look back on 2020 tonight, set the agenda for 2021 and get on with winning that flag. As always, ‘Floreat Pica’ – may the Magpie flourish.”
Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson said he was unaware and shocked at McGuire's announcement. Anderson, who took over as club CEO in 2018, said, “I was listening to it, like our members, with surprise and shock and just wondering if I was hearing what I was hearing.” After the forum, Anderson said he, McGuire and other high-ranking club officials “had a couple of drinks and had a good chance to chat”, which is when the reasoning for his decision became clearer. Anderson continued. “Eddie is as passionate in year 22 as he was in year one... whenever he wakes up he’s thinking about Collingwood. It was very much a personal decision. He felt the time is right -both his boys have now finished school and he’s finished up his morning radio duties as well. It’s just a different phase of life for him and a personal decision.” Regarding the legacy of McGuire, Anderson said, “Eddie is an absolute legend of the club and I think a legend of the game as well. His impact ... is just immense ... He’s rebuilt our club and there’s an amazing amount of success he’s had across his time ... he’s determined to leave the club in great shape and he wants to ensure that’s his legacy when he walks out the door ... ".
Article last changed on Wednesday, January 06, 2021 - 8:18 PM EST