Collingwood premiership star Travis Cloke has quashed longtime talk that the club’s controversial succession plan cost the Pies the 2011 flag.
As Mick Malthouse prepared to hand over the reins to assistant coach Nathan Buckley at the end of the 2011 season, some senior players petitioned for their “father figure” coach to stay.
But Cloke, a senior player himself that season, doesn’t believe the succession plan was responsible for the Pies’ failure to go back-to-back.
“I think it’s bulls*** which was beaten up because of the situation. Because Mick was moving and the transition was happening,” Cloke told the Sunday Herald Sun‘s ‘Sacked’ podcast.
“I believe it didn’t have an impact on our 2011 season and I am sure there are people who would say it did, but as a player who was pretty critical in that group I don’t believe it did.
“When (talk of players lobbying for Mick) came out I thought, ‘Did I have my head in the sand for 12 months?’ and I would say I am a pretty in-touch-with-the-group type of person. I talk to all people, not just the players, from bootstudders to the administration.
“I didn’t buy into it. I couldn’t care less who was coaching. Mick was a father figure to me and Bucks was into Xs and Os, but I had respect for both men and still do and loved the way they went about it.
“They are very intimidating men from the outside, but I saw him as the Nathan Buckley we see now. It’s what I saw in 2004 when I got drafted.
“Both had strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is scared of Bucks but we would have a laugh and I would sit in his room and almost break down. I could be real with him.”
Cloke does still consider the 2011 Grand Final, where the Cats overran the Pies in the final quarter on the back of Tom Hawkins’ monstering of Ben Reid, as the “one” that got away.
“That probably sh*** me more than anything, that game. We did lose it on our terms,” Cloke said.
“Pods (James Podsiadly) went down with an injury and Reidy went over to Hawkins and I think Tommy had the best game of his career. Don’t get me wrong, we still give Reidy sh** about his performance that day.
“I am still filthy that one got away from us, (it would have been) two in a row.”