Eddie McGuire to step down as Collingwood president at end of 2021 season
Eddie McGuire to step down as Collingwood president at end of 2021 season

Bold promise every Pies fan should thank McGuire for

Eddie McGuire ascended the Collingwood presidency in October 1998 - on his 34th birthday - in what was effectively a bloodless coup.

His shock announcement at Monday night's members' forum that he will step down at the end of next year after an extraordinary 23 seasons means he will leave of his own accord - no matter what happens next year.

It is the right call for the 56-year-old as he looks to the next phase of his life and the right call for the club as it looks to kickstart a new era.

McGuire will bow out as the third longest-serving club president in VFL-AFL history, and the Magpies' second longest-serving president, behind Harry Curtis.

He sensed it was the right time for change for myriad reasons.

 

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But with his uncanny knowledge of Collingwood's often fractured political history, it wouldn't have been lost on him that Curtis was unceremoniously voted out of office in one of the club's most bitter elections 70 years ago - in 1950 - after a long and mostly successful reign.

No one knows if that would have happened to McGuire.

Eddie McGuire oversaw the coaching handover between Nathan Buckley and Mick Malthouse.
Eddie McGuire oversaw the coaching handover between Nathan Buckley and Mick Malthouse.

But with a handful of agitators calling for him to resign and calling for change in recent weeks, and with the club still dealing with member backlash following its controversial trade period, the prospect of a smooth transition seems assured now.

In McGuire's first official speech as president in 1998 he set the bar high: "Tonight is a moment of truth in shaping Collingwood's future in the 21st century."

It wasn’t a popular decision with Malthouse, who led the club to the 2011 Grand Final.
It wasn’t a popular decision with Malthouse, who led the club to the 2011 Grand Final.

"What I can promise you from the bottom of my heart is that every decision made by the Collingwood Football Club will be made for the benefit of the club, and nothing else."

He lived up to the promise of giving his heart and soul to Collingwood, a fact even his greatest detractors would struggle to argue against.

There have been some groundbreaking achievements across more than two decades mixed in with some controversial moments - some of them self-inflicted - that adversely impacted on him and the club.

McGuire's fingerprints have been on some of the biggest decisions in the club's history.

Eddie McGuire and Nathan Buckley front the media in 2000.
Eddie McGuire and Nathan Buckley front the media in 2000.

There was the resurrection of the club from a financial and football basket case in 1998, transforming it from a suburban organisation into a national brand with international sponsors.

There was the astute appointment of Mick Malthouse as senior coach in late 1999; the move from Victoria Park to Olympic Park; the securing of the club's 15th VFL-AFL premiership in 2010; the coaching succession plan from Malthouse to Nathan Buckley (of which some still debate the pros and cons); the push to 75,000-80,000 members; the establishment of an AFLW side and national netball team; and the club's philanthropic endeavours to feed, house and give hope to those less fortunate in the community.

A pumped up McGuire celebrates a Collingwood victory.
A pumped up McGuire celebrates a Collingwood victory.

But there were also significant controversies that cast a shadow over the club.

There was the Adam Goodes radio gaffe as well as ongoing legal issues and an ongoing internal review into the club's culture following Heritier Lumumba's claims of racism encountered during his time at the club.

There were a few off-field discipline issues from players that embarrassed the club and the president; debate over the merit of the coaching handover; and in recent times a bulging salary cap problem that saw fan favourites Adam Treloar and Jaidyn Stephenson depart in a fire sale that infuriated the fan base before a solid draft period eased some of the tensions.

McGuire's pledge to make Collingwood the biggest club in the AFL was realised in 2010 after the Magpies won the flag.

Eddie McGuire has transformed Collingwood since taking over as president in 1998.
Eddie McGuire has transformed Collingwood since taking over as president in 1998.

That mantle has since been usurped, with suburban neighbours Richmond now laying claim to it.

If it hadn't been one of the greatest pressure kicks in football history from Dom Sheed in 2018, the Magpies might well have had cup 16 locked away in their Olympic Park trophy cabinet.

Love him or hate him, few presidents have shaped the role as much as McGuire, and for all of his perceived strengths and weaknesses, there has never been any doubt about his devotion for the club.

His presidency may be coming to end, but given his passion for the club, it is fair to assume he won't be lost to Collingwood.

Originally published as Bold promise every Pies fan should thank McGuire for


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