Mason Cox has called for a major change to the way the AFL awards premiership medals, saying all members of Collingwood’s squad deserve one of their own for the efforts in securing the Magpies a 16th premiership, and not just the 23 who appeared in the grand final.
The Pies had no shortage of heartbreak stories in the build-up to their thrilling four-point grand final win over Brisbane, with Daniel McStay and Taylor Adams missing the decider with knee and hamstring injuries respectively, while half-back John Noble was brutally dropped for the finals series having played every game in the home-and-away season.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Cox, who joins former Sydney ruckman Mike Pyke as North American players to have won AFL premierships, described McStay’s fate as ‘f—ing shattering’, saying the absent trio should be rewarded for their role in the Magpies’ minor premiership and subsequent flag triumph.
“They were a big reason why we were there – without Dan McStay kicking two goals in the prelim we probably don’t make it [to the grand final],” Cox said.
“It is frustrating to not see them have a medal around their neck, to be honest.
“I would change it in a heartbeat. Without them we are not in this situation.
“To have that happen in a prelim is f—ing shattering… guys like John Noble and Tay Adams, it is something you wouldn’t wish on the worst person.
“I don’t know what the ruling would be but it just seems wrong to not have them with a medal.”
The Magpies are far from the first team to have players endure grand final heartbreak, with every year bringing with it its own unique tales of woe.
Daniel McStay and Nick Daicos. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Among the most famous are Western Bulldogs captain Robert Murphy watching on as his team secured a drought-breaking flag in 2016, Hawthorn tough nut Brendan Whitecross twice rupturing his ACL in September, including in the 2013 preliminary final, and Collingwood defender Simon Prestigiacomo ruling himself out of the 2010 grand final with a groin injury.
The Magpies’ grand final win caused an outpouring of emotion from the black and white faithful, with club legend Nathan Buckley revealing he was left ‘openly sobbing’ at the result.
Buckley endured his own grand final torment throughout his storied career, losing the 2002 and 2003 deciders to Brisbane before falling five points short in the 2018 grand final as coach.
“I was openly sobbing at the final siren and beyond,” Buckley said on SEN.
“I had my head down trying to work it all out. Maxy [former Collingwood player Nick Maxwell] and I were hugging and then Pebs [former Collingwood player Anthony Rocca] come across and he whispered in my ear: ‘We got one back’.
“You don’t get them back, but there was a little bit of that, a little bit of ‘poor bugger me’ that came into it.
“But the other part is looking at guys like Jeremy Howe, Brayden Maynard, obviously Steele [Sidebottom] and Pendles [Scott Pendlebury] have won their second one, Brody Mihocek, Jamie Elliott… that’s what the pinnacle, pivotal moments bring out.”