That’s not what this article is about. Rather, this article is more of a snapshot look at the current short list of candidates for the vacant Collingwood senior coaching position recently vacated by Nathan Buckley, one of the most popular favourite sons of the famous back and white club, and an unashamed promotion of the man I believe should be awarded the position, Adam Kingsley.
Most of you will be aware of my passionate support of possibly the Pies’ archest (is that a word?) enemy of all, the team from down the road who wear the yellow and black.
So why my interest in this subject? Because it’s Collingwood of course, so people will read for that reason alone, and my interest has been piqued by the short-listing of Adam Kingsley, Don Pyke, Brad Scott and Michael Voss.
Pyke, Voss and Scott are all known quantities and each of them in some way is damaged goods. There is also the lingering question of how badly they want the role anyway?
Pyke, a premiership player at the Eagles, employed an attacking style as a coach and took the Crows to the last day in September in 2017, only falling at the last hurdle to a Richmond team imbued at the time with possibly unstoppable momentum.
Pyke’s attacking coaching style may be well suited to the game as it stands in 2021 but what cannot be ignored about Pyke is the horrible misjudgement he made in sanctioning the itinerary and format of the now infamous 2018 Adelaide Crows pre-season camp that almost certainly led to the unravelling and destruction of a possible premiership-winning team.
Can that or even should that lack of judgement be overlooked by Paul Licuria and Graham Wright when deciding on the new coach?
Brad Scott is no stranger to Collingwood having previously served there as an assistant coach to Mick Malthouse. He is, of course, a multiple premiership winner as a player and his record is solid as a coach of North Melbourne, taking the Kangas to, but ultimately losing, multiple preliminary finals.
With frustrating similarity to Buckley, the ultimate prize, a premiership, has so far eluded him in his ten years as a coach. Will Licuria and Wright see his time away from the pressure cooker environment of senior AFL coaching and his roles with the AFL as having given him a chance to refresh, retool and reinvent himself as a senior coach of the mighty Magpies?
Voss, the multiple premiership-winning Brownlow medalist and one of the AFL GOATs is possibly the most intriguing of the three recycled coaches. He failed dismally at his first attempt as senior coach but made the mistake of moving straight in a senior role at the club he was a favourite son at instead of taking the sensible approach of doing an apprenticeship initially at another club.
Voss’ ego has always been his biggest flaw and this is what led him to his fateful decision to coach the Lions when he did. But to Voss’ credit he has now put his head down, done the hard work as assistant under Ken Hinkley at the Power and looks as though he may now have the temperament, the experience and the skills to this time succeed as a senior coach.
From the known to now the relatively unknown candidate in Adam Kingsley.
Originally from the Eastern Ranges under-18s, he played for the Bombers’ reserves before being recruited by Port Adelaide with pick 37 in the 1996 national draft and was a member of the newly introduced Port Power team’s first AFL game they played in 1997.
He had a successful playing career, playing 170 games across ten seasons. He was known as a consistent defender/midfielder, and was a member of the 2004 Power premiership team, retiring in 2006 after injuring his ACL in Round 22 of that season.
He became an assistant coach at Port Adelaide in 2007 under Mark Williams and held that role until the end of the 2010 season before taking up the position of assistant coach at St Kilda under coach Ross Lyon, spending eight seasons through what were very challenging times for the Saints, working mainly with the midfield group.
In 2019, in what was a fortuitous move, Kingsley took up an assistant coach position at the Tigers under his old premiership mate Damien Hardwick. He considered running for the vacant Adelaide coaching job at the end of 2019, a role coincidently he had lost out on to Don Pyke in 2016, but withdrew from the process, deciding instead to continue on at Tigerland in 2020 and further develop his coaching skills.
His initial appointment at Richmond was slightly controversial at the time among the faithful due to the lack of success at St Kilda during his tenure there and he was replacing the highly regarded Ben Rutten in a successful coaching group at a club at the absolute peak of their powers.
Kingsley presided as midfield/stoppage coach at the Tigers for the 2019 and 2020 seasons and the rest as they say is history. You could use the Chris Scott analogy here and suggest that Kingsley just inherited a premiership-winning midfield but he has earned high praise for the work he has done at Tigerland.
Especially notable was the amazing job he did, in conjunction with Andrew McQualter, in flipping the script and transforming the Tigers from a turnover/back-half team into the clearance beast they became in the 2020 finals series, culminating in Richmond’s third premiership in four years.
Hardwick said of him recently when asked about Kingsley in relation to the Collingwood job: “Wonderful coaches are wonderful coaches. I just think he is a wonderful coach. He has a great relationship with his players, a great understanding of the game, and his worst day will be his first day. He will get better every time.”
In addition to the experience gained from his previous playing and coaching appointments, Kingsley graduated from the AFL’s prestigious level four coaching program in 2017.
Combine that with the little known fact that in 2006, Kingsley won Australia’s Brainiest Footballer on the Network Ten quiz show special, donating the $20,000 that he won to the McGuinness-McDermott Foundation (run by former Adelaide footballers Tony McGuinness and Chris McDermott).
That gives Kingsley the pedigree and impetus to take the big leap, actually, the giant leap into the echelons of senior AFL coaches.
Collingwood have had a reputation throughout their recent history of fully supporting their senior coaches and giving them the time, scope and resources to be their very best and every possible chance of succeeding.
The biggest thing that Adam Kingsley has in his favour is that he is young by AFL coaching standards, he is lean and he is hungry for success and combined with the attributes outlined, that will mean he will succeed in the jungles that is AFL senior coaching.
Paul Licuria and Graham Wright, Kingsley is your man.