AFL’s Buckley admits he will miss Balme

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley admits he will miss Neil Balme, saying he wanted to work with the respected AFL football boss for another year.

Richmond scored a major off-field coup on Monday when they announced Balme would return to the club as general manager of football.

While Balme had some coaching success in SA and the AFL, he has found his true niche as a football department manager.

He had consistent success in that role in two stints at Collingwood, while it was no coincidence Geelong won three premierships while Balme was their football boss.

Buckley said on Monday night he had no say in the changes at Collingwood in the past few weeks, where veteran administrator Graeme Allan was appointed to run their football department.

Allen effectively took over the role from Balme, who was moved to a coaching director role.

“I wasn’t privy to the decision that was made because it’s made higher up the chain than me,” Buckley told AFL 360.

“I’m looking forward to working with ‘Gubby’ (Allen) but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish Balmey had accepted that director of coaching role for 12 months, selfishly.

“But I understand the reasons for him choosing to go to Richmond.”

Buckley heaped praise on Balme, who left Geelong in 2014 to return to Collingwood.

“I am (disappointed) because I enjoy ‘Balmey’,” Buckley said.

“He’s a great football person – he’s played a really important role for us over the last couple of years and for me personally.

“We’re in much better shape as a footy department than we were when he came in and like you’d hope to see whenever your time comes, he’ll leave us in a better place than (when) he came in.”

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