Nathan Buckley knows exactly what would have come had Collingwood not turned around their appalling first quarter against Hawthorn.
The Magpies coach spoke of the pall hanging over himself and the club after their amazing 13.12 (90) to 11.6 (72) AFL comeback win on Saturday night at the MCG.
Hawthorn mauled Collingwood with 6.1 to 0.1 in the first term – the Magpies’ worst opening quarter under Buckley.
“I was thinking about jumping in the car and driving home, about 20 minutes into the first quarter, but I reckon most of the Collingwood fans were thinking that as well,” Buckley said, only half-joking.
Collingwood trailed by 43 points early in the second term before kicking nine goals to one in the second half – their best comeback win under Buckley.
It is also the first time Buckley has beaten Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, breaking a nine-game losing streak.
Had Collingwood gone down in a heap on Saturday night, it may well have proved the tipping point in the ongoing saga this season about Buckley’s coaching future.
“I don’t think we can ignore the fact that there’s a pall over the club at the moment and there’s a pall over me,” he said.
“I can go and meet people … I don’t think I’m carrying it with me, I’m not bringing it to the conversation, but it’s introduced.
“That’s a reality, because it’s a talking point.
“But if we perform better, we’ll be okay … (and) we will perform better.”
As Buckley noted, the comeback showed he and his players are still on the same page.
“The players are clearly still invested, so it’s belief,”‘ he said.
“The players are clearly not ready to throw the towel in – no-one at the club is.
“You might have questioned that 15 minutes into the first quarter.
“Clearly when the question was asked, they responded in the affirmative and enough of them did.”
Buckley praised his captain Scott Pendlebury, who led superbly and drove their fightback.
The coach also lauded the bravery of James Aish, who was taken to hospital with a suspected depressed fracture of the cheekbone after a heavy collision in the third term.
Buckley added he considered tagging Hawthorn onballer Tom Mitchell, who racked up 50 disposals – only the seventh AFL player to achieve the feat and the first at Hawthorn.
“If I said he wasn’t hurting us a lot, would that make sense?,” Buckley said of Mitchell.
That drew a pointed response from Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson.
“It’s a special effort for any player in the competition to get 50 touches,” Clarkson said.
“It’s pretty ballsy to say he wasn’t having an influence at that point (the first half), because I think he was.”