Proud Bucks ‘numb’, Eddie praises Eagles
A "NUMB" Nathan Buckley didn't picture the result, but said he had never been prouder of Collingwood.
Buckley conceded he and his players would be haunted by the late stages of their five-point loss to the Eagles in Saturday's epic Grand Final, having experienced what he described as a loss of dare and cleanliness with the ball, and said missed opportunities would burn.
"I'm enormously proud of our club, I'm proud of the players. There's a lot of boys in there that are hurting … but I didn't picture this," he said.
"We'd had a really clear picture of the way we play and I suppose all of us in our own time would have pictured the best outcome, and for a long part of today we were there. But ultimately not.
"I pictured us happier right now than we are. We didn't execute quite as well as we would have liked to, but I think it was a true Grand Final.
"There was a lot of moments that could have gone either way, a lot of missed opportunities. There was pressure brought to bear from both sides.
"We held on, and we held on, but no."
Collingwood surged two goals clear in the final term but Buckley said costly errors that allowed the Eagles access to goal were to blame - errors that will stay with his team.
"Those little moments will haunt the players and will haunt us, because we need to be clean with that … but that's the game we played," he said.
Buckley, who captained Collingwood in its 2003 Grand Final loss to Brisbane, described the feeling of losing a premiership decider as a coach was "totally different".
"But I can't remember how it felt 15 or 16 years ago. I can't even be really clear on how it feels right now, other than not great," he said.
"I'm pretty numb, and the boys are pretty numb. We're on the wrong side of it."
He revealed that runner Alex Woodward was "shattered" and "blaming himself" after he appeared to get in the way of young Pie Jaidyn Stephenson which allowed Eagle Elliot Yeo free passage virtual free passage to mark and kick a goal late in the third quarter for West Coast's first lead of the day.
But he was adamant that his message man should not be holding himself to such account.
"Things happen in life, things happen in football," he said.
"He was trying to get out of the way, and it didn't work."
Despite the heartbreak, he described the year as "fantastic" and one that the club would continue to carry with it.
"I've never felt as proud of the club as I do right now," the coach said.
"We'll find out about ourselves, as everyone does, as we have to face this reality and then how we respond to this reality. But it won't be for lack of support. It won't be for lack of love or care for each other. That needs to be something that's continually tipped into … it's finite unless you keep producing it. That's going to be a big challenge for us.
"I've got no doubt that that has become us and that's part of our personality and part of who we are and I look forward to seeing where that takes us."
EDDIE: 'I'VE BOUGHT INTO BUCKS' STYLE'
MEANWHILE, Eddie McGuire says he went to the MCG with "hope in his heart" but will take a leaf from his coach's book in an effort to process the Grand Final defeat.
The Collingwood president described Eagle Dom Sheed's matchwinning goal was one the Eagle would remember for "all of his life" - and one that he would, too.
But he said he was determined to use this year's approach of Nathan Buckley and his fellow coaches in assessing the devastating loss.
"There's lots of things I'll remember all my life in footy, yeah," he said.
"I've bought in to what Nathan Buckley and the boys have brought to the table this year and that's to concentrate on the 95 per cent and not the five per cent. As it turned out, we were in front for 95 per cent of the game and not that five per cent.
"But the bottom line is, we're behind for eternity from here. They (West Coast) were great."
McGuire, who has led the club since 1998, viewed the match as "one of the great grand finals".
"We led for all but two minutes. The Eagles were fantastic this year," he said.
"They beat us on three occasions … there's a genuine respect between the two organisations. They've got the cup, and we walk away … it's a funny feeling. We're so proud of everything we've done this year and we were just about there."
He said he was "just so proud" of the club and said this season was "a great springboard to launch from in the future".