Nathan Buckley’s stunning comeback has continued, with the Collingwood coach taking out the AFL Coaches Association senior coach of the year award.
Buckley, who has taken the Pies from 13th last year to Saturday’s grand final against West Coast, was presented with the award, voted on by his fellow senior coaches and assistants, on Tuesday night.
He polled 344 votes to finish ahead of the Eagles’ Adam Simpson (271) and Melbourne’s Simon Goodwin (82) and win the award for the first time.
It continued a remarkable turnaround for the seventh-year coach who weathered intense criticism and a searching internal review last year to continue in the role.
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“I think it’s an acknowledgement of a pretty strong year by our club and our team,” Buckley told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“I do think it speaks to performance either above or below expectations because it’s pretty hard to measure the effectiveness of a senior coach from anywhere other than inside the four walls.
“The fact that it comes from the peers, I acknowledge.
“I think they would understand and pick up and see things that would speak to them maybe a little more specifically than just that performance above expectation.”
The Pies played finals in Buckley’s first two years in charge after taking over from Mick Malthouse, but finished out of the eight for the next four years.
Buckley delivered Collingwood to their first grand final since 2011 after finishing the home-and-away season in third spot with a 15-7 record.
He did so despite losing key players like Jamie Elliott, Daniel Wells, Lynden Dunn, Matt Scharenberg, James Aish, Ben Reid, Darcy Moore and Adam Treloar to lengthy or season-ending injuries.
In other awards announced at a ceremony in Melbourne, North Melbourne’s two-time premiership coach Denis Pagan was honoured as an AFLCA coaching legend, joining the likes of Kevin Sheedy, Leigh Matthews, David Parkin, Tom Hafey and Ron Barassi.
Sydney’s Rhyce Shaw was voted assistant coach of the year ahead of Hawthorn’s Chris Newman and Darren Glass.