TONY JONES: I recall a story Eddie McGuire told me about midway through his 23-year reign as Collingwood president.
I recall a story Eddie McGuire told me probably midway through his 23-year reign as Collingwood president.
He was walking down a street with his two then-young sons when a group of youngsters, onboard a passing tram, began hurling abuse at him.
It was all Collingwood related but at that moment, he wondered if the presidency was worth being belittled in front of his boys.
History will show the club won out and his sons would go on to accept that their dad would, at times, cop flak.
And copped flak he has. Some justified, some not.
He’s not naive enough to suggest he doesn’t bring some of it upon himself; a sometimes blinkered view of the game he loves so much polarising public opinion.
Indeed, public opinion of McGuire is split in the wake of his resignation as Collingwood president.
In truth, he was always going to struggle not to step down following the leaking of the independent report that found Collingwood guilty of systemic racism.
The report included a veiled reference to Eddie’s apparent failings as an influential, if not THE influential, figure at the club.
The situation was not helped by his now infamous, and now lethal, comment that it was a “proud” day for the club.
McGuire went off script, prompting his detractors to go off tap.
His opponents would’ve been high-fiving last night, celebrating the downfall of football’s highest-profile administrator.
But outweighing that will be those equally furious that McGuire has, quite possibly, become a victim of those who thrive on being outraged.
But even his most ardent detractors would have to concede that McGuire has done more for his club than any other president in the game’s history.
Not just club, but community.
The Magpies enjoy one of the most envied headquarters in Australian sport, right in the heart of the sporting precinct.
It also has a premiership cup in the trophy cabinet, won on McGuire’s watch.
Brick and mortar and silverware are very much part of his legacy, but so too are the many projects to help those in dire need of support.
The homeless were found homes … the hungry were given food … the lonely were taken in as part of the Collingwood family.
These weren’t photo opportunities for McGuire. Most of the work was done with not a camera in sight.
So, as much as history will record his exit as a result of a racism issue that should’ve been dealt with much, much earlier, McGuire will also be remembered as a visionary.
Many leaders are denied the dignity of exiting on their own terms and McGuire has clearly joined the list.
He’ll be hurting.
There’s no doubt about that.
Nor should there be any doubt that when it’s weighed up, his achievements will far outweigh his failings.
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