Buckley’s Chance

North Melbourne Football Club have made clear their intention to, at the very least, have a good look at Nathan Buckley for the vacant coaching role in 2010. Given that Port Adelaide look like re-signing Mark Williams (we’ll know next week regardless), and assuming Mick Malthouse stays on at Collingwood, it is highly likely that Richmond and North will be the only clubs vying for a new coach. So, the question on everyone’s lips is: if both clubs presented Buckley with an offer, which would he choose?

Garry Lyon provided some insight into the criteria he thinks Buckley will use to assess clubs, so I’ve taken the liberty to compare Richmond and North in each area:

Playing list

North Melbourne


Players aged 30+



Aged 25-29



Aged 21-24



Under 21



Game breakers

Harvey, Jesse Smith, Wells, Petrie

Richo, Cousins, Brown, Deledio, Foley

Possible delistings

Watt, Harris, Adams, Greenwood, Riggio, Lower

Johnson (ret.), Bowden,
Brown, McMahon,
Schulz, Pettifer

Rookie promotions



Both clubs are going through rebuilding phases of sorts. However, Richmond clearly overestimated their potential in 2009, aiming for the finals at the very least. This has left Richmond contemplating another painful rebuilding process.

While North would have hoped to be better placed than 12th (4-8), they entered the season with an open mind, hoping for continued development rather than big results. And injuries have taken a massive toll on North’s game breakers. North have turned over 25 players in the past 3 years, placing them a long way day the development path already.

But the clear gap between the two teams rests with the senior players. To me, North have the runs on the board in this department and Richmond, with the exception of Richo, don’t.

So where does this leave a Buckley? Well, if he’s keen on rebuilding a playing list, Richmond would offer the greater challenge. But if Bucks is more excited by developing existing talent, North are probably the more attractive option.

Verdict: North Melbourne have the edge

Coaching staff

North Melbourne: Darren Crocker, Anthony Rock, Darren Bewick, Danny Daly and John Lamont are the key assistant coaches at Arden St. Crock is clearly highly respected, and you would think that Daly’s role in picking apart much more fancied opponents would stand him in good stead. The rest are potentially expendable, particularly Bewick, given that he’s in charge of North’s dysfunctional forward line.

Richmond: Jade Rawlings, Wayne Campbell, Brian Royal, David King and Craig McRae head up the team at Punt Rd. Campbell is touted as a candidate for 2010 and ‘untouchable’ in the eyes of the Richmond faithful. Rawlings is clearly well-respected. King has already signalled his intention to leave Tigerland at season’s end. The others fly well under the media’s radar.

All in all, both teams have some scope for Bucks to bring in a couple of his own people, while hanging onto well respected clubmen.

Verdict: Line ball.

Football budget

North Melbourne’s football department expenditure for 2008 was $12.5m compared with Richmond’s $13.4m. North expect this to go up to around $13.5m this year, while Richmond expect a jump in their expenditure also. How much of the gap is attributable to the Total Player Payments (TPP) is unclear – North are paying around 93% of the TPP cap, while I expect Richmond are paying closer to 97/8%. With the retirement of Johnson and possible retirement (voluntary or otherwise) of Bowden, Brown and Simmonds, I would expect Richmond’s TPP to drop back in 2010. Conversely, North are anticipating an increase to around 95%.

While Richmond undoubtably hold the edge in terms of resourcing, the gap has closed significantly under the current NMFC administration, publicly committing to back-in the football department with real resources. And as Arocca mentioned recently, “I think that any coach coming to this club would feel that we are doing as much as we can (and) getting more bang for our buck (than other clubs)”.

Verdict: Tigers by a whisker.


Both clubs will have state-of-the-art facilities in 2010.

Verdict: Not a factor.

Promotion and marketing

The media seem certain that North want Bucks more for his off-field impact than on-field. This is an insult to Buckley’s coaching stature, even if he is untried at AFL level. And no matter where Buckley goes he will attract huge media attention. That said, North would undoubtedly seek to make more use of Buckley’s profile than Richmond.

Verdict: Richmond.

Stadium deals

Both clubs have poor stadium deals, but North’s is the worst. However, North have made a clear commitment to avoid selling home games interstate. One home game may be sold to Subiaco, but that’s it. Richmond remain unlikely to pursue selling any home games.

Verdict: Richmond

Other factors

  • Stability: North have a clear advantage in this regard given the infamous volatility of the yellow and black army. Brayshaw and Arocca have also brought incredible unity to North in the last 18 months.
  • Football culture: North’s football culture over the past 15 years is difficult to fault. Conversely, Richmond’s is suspect at best.
  • History: Ray Buckley, Bucks’ dad, and undoubtedly his biggest footy influence, played SANFL with Malcolm Blight at Woodville. They became great mates. Bucks has always had a lot of respect for North as a result.
    Also, Bucks reneged on a shifty under-the-table deal to come to North in 1993. He always felt bad about it, even though he could be forgiven for getting caught up in one of the biggest recruiting shit-fights of the last 30 years. Does Buckley feel like he owes North?
  • Personal connections: Eugene Arocca and Nathan Buckley have a pre-existing relationship from their Collingwood days.


Richmond have Buckley’s chance. I reckon North’s culture would have massive appeal to Buckley and cannot wait for the team to sign him on. Come on Bucks, you know you want to!



Filed under Off Field, On Field

5 responses to “Buckley’s Chance

  1. Ron

    Nice work Rev. Looks like you’ve done Buckley’s work for him. A no-brainer.

  2. FootyTragic

    North has the edge over the tigers in terms of culture and ‘premiership-age players’ but the Tigers are one of the Big 4 clubs and are still streets ahead of us in media exposure, fan base, sponsorship and long term stability.

    The Tigers team is full of young talent who have been given a great deal of game time and have a lot of development still remaining while our team core remains older

    The lure and challenge of ‘Awakening the Sleeping Giant’ which has brought many aspiring coaches to their doom at Richmond, may yet appeal to the Bucks ego but if he wants immediate sucess then the Kanga’s would be a better team.

    In the long term I think Richmond will emerge the better side with all their early draft picks and this may prove the biggest draw card for someone like Buckley.

    Time will tell but regardless, someone like a Hinkley or Hardwick may prove to be a better option anyway.

    • FootyTragic (or should I call you Stripes?) – your guise as a North supporter is thinly veiled, particularly given your post here: http://oneeyed-richmond.com/forum//index.php?topic=9430.30

      Nevertheless, your points are valid. Except I think the talent of North’s recruits has been underestimated by the media, and the talent of Richmond’s perhaps overestimated. Apart from Cotchin and Deledio, which early draft picks are going to deliver Richmond success in future? (Serious question)

  3. Stripes

    Rev. Shinboner – great pickup! You must be scanning the Tigers boards as much as some of our learned folk are scanning yours. Either that or you have many spies…

    I don’t think anyone outside of either club rates either of our lists. With Richmond it is all about the 6 players over 30 forgetting that our current sides average age sits around the 22 mark. Besides Cousins who is 30 our next oldest players in the current side is Tuck (26) and Newman (26). We then drop down to Foley (24) with the rest of the 18 players all under 22 years of age.

    North will always be a highly under-rated team simple due to the lack of media exposure and support it recieves in Melbourne. Players such as Harvey would be seen as a superstar at Collingwood but conversely players like Wells have been spared the blowtorch that others such as Tambling has recieved at Richmond (Buddy anyone?)

    Buckley has stated on Adelaide radio that he believes that the Tigers younger players are further advanced on exposed form which basically says that we have given our younger players more game time than North has. The main reason for this is because we have had to given the lack of mid-age players (23 – 28) we have compared to North.

    Probably the big question reamins is whether our younger players are better than yours…well only time will tell really. My biased view is that players such as Deledio has had to take the main tag since he was first thrust into the midfield because at 18/19 he was already our best centre player. He was not afforded the luxury of time to develop with older players protecting him and taking the better opposition. The same could be said about many of our younger brigade which has to be an advantage in the future.

    Stars are meerly the cream on the cake, you need the consistent contribution across the field to be a contender and our list is all coming through together. We don’t have the spread other teams have in ages, our list is predominately under 23. Players such as Deledio, Cotchin, Morton, Reiwoldt, McGuane, Rance and even Tambling are still babies in AFL terms and can only get better but it is the players around them that will make the difference. Talent shines when it is lifted by the efforts of others.

    Bucks is only one coach and I’m starting to feel that he is a risk that may not be worth taking. Other candidates have far more runs on the board but just lack the ‘Collingwood-hype’ including Longmire, Hardwick, Hinkley and even King.

    I think before either team makes a hasty judgement, we need to forget who the media thinks we should take and instead concentrate who is really best for our futures.

    Stripes (FootyTragic ;))

    • I saw those comments from Buckley today and was a bit disappointed, coz I really think that there is some exciting talent in the Roos junior ranks that no-one outside of Arden St seems aware of. And, due to injury, they have been getting a bit of game time this season. That said, I haven’t seen enough of Richmond’s kids to give them a fair assessment, which is why I’m interested in Tiger’s fans’ opinions.

      But you’re right, the media hype surrounding Buckley is over the top. I still rate him though, mainly because of his incredible self-motivation to improve and succeed at everything he does.

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