Regrets are an inevitable part of life. They come with the territory of breathing and are a part of the unwritten deal we all sign for the right to exist.

Although some contrition can feel enormous – such as the misery born when a relationship breaks down or after committing a far more criminal act – others are forgotten in the blink of an eye.

In terms of the unpredictable game of football, there are a plethora of scenarios that have made or broken careers.

What if your side picked a different player from a certain draft?

What if your star spearhead had kicked straight when it mattered?

What if a superstar decided to stay away from Broadway?

Well, for fans of every creed we have sought to answer the question that has rankled you for years and kept you up at night for far too long.

We can't promise that we won't open old wounds, as let's face it, that is the entire point of the exercise.

From Adelaide to the Bulldogs, from Fitzroy to the Bears, here are every club's biggest 'what if' moments since the dawn of the AFL era in 1990. Here's part two as we look at the Bears' biggest 'what if'...


What if Nathan Buckley stayed a Bear?

Although the narrative within this alternative reality would have run similarly to what played out in the real world, it would have almost certainly allowed for one of the game's most tortured champions to earn his just rewards.

After completing a SANFL quadrella in 1992 by winning the league's best and fairest player, his club's B&F, the best player on grand final day and a premiership medal in just his second season with the Port Adelaide Magpies, Nathan Buckley was seen by all and sundry as the most precocious talent in the country.

Despite the fact that the then-mulleted midfielder would eventually join the Bears ahead of the 1993 season, Buckley's heroics at Alberton were only made possible after rebuking the fledgling Queensland franchise's advances during the 1991 AFL Draft.

In truth, the only way that then Bears coach Robert Walls was able to coax the South Australian-born superstar north was on a promise that at the completion of his debut season in the big league, Brisbane would facilitate a trade to a club of Buckley's choosing, if he remained unsold with life at the ‘Gabba'.

This is where the door begins to slide.

What if after a season that saw Buckley slot more than a goal-a-game and win the league's Rising Star award, he had chosen to remain in maroon?

Heading into 1994 off a 4-16 season the year before, it would have taken Nostradamus himself to predict what lay ahead for the ‘Bad News Bears'.

However, with their list already containing names like Michael Voss, Marcus Ashcroft, Justin Leppitsch, Shaun Hart, Darryl White, as well as Nigel Lappin, Chris Scott and Alastair Lynch arriving that off-season via the trade table and the draft respectively, the nucleus of Brisbane's three-peat side had already been formed.

Despite the fact that these soon-to-be superstars could only help the Bears claim a 9-13 record in '94, and a 10-13 finish 12 months later, the tide, as we all know, was set to turn quickly.

As Walls' – so too his predecessor John Northey's - coaching mantra was to play the kids, Buckley would have almost certainly formed the beginnings of a powerful partnership with these aforementioned names ahead of the Bears' finals appearances in 1995 and '96.

However, as we know, ‘Bucks' instead chose the bright lights of Melbourne, and the embrace of the rebuilding Magpies.

Had Buckley opted to stay in Queensland, there is little doubt that he not only would have remained the club's poster boy following the Bears' merger with Fitzroy, but he would have been a near certainty to have played in the Lions' three-peat sides.

Who knows, he could have even earned the honour of captaining them instead of his former teammate come nemesis, Michael Voss.

Ahead of the 1996 season – the year that Voss shared the Brownlow Medal with Essendon's James Hird – Buckley had collected 503 more disposals than his redheaded counterpart, as well as nine more goals and twice as many Brownlow votes – 28 compared to 14.

With this in mind, it really isn't too much to suggest that if Buckley had remained with the Bears, he might have won his first ‘Charlie' much sooner.

What a decision to remain in the Sunshine State would have meant for Collingwood's contemporary history is not worth thinking about for members of the Magpie Army.

But we are sure the midfielder's move has rankled him since, especially after the 2002 and '03 deciders.