As he prepares to break the AFL’s all-time coaching record, Mick Malthouse is spending his moment in the sun with others.
Against Collingwood on Friday night, Malthouse will coach his 715th VFL/AFL match, surpassing the legendary Magpies coach Jock McHale.
While he will stand alone as the game’s most prolific coach, Malthouse prefers to think of it as a shared award.
He says his first instinct was to brush it off as just another statistic.
But late last year when AFL head office asked him whether he’d like to pick his opponent for the milestone match, Malthouse said the weight of the milestone came home.
“In my 30 years in football it’s never happened, I started to realise the enormity of it,” he said.
From there came the realisation that he should embrace the occasion and share it with everyone that had been a part of his coaching journey which began at Footscray in 1984.
“Get over yourself – this is not about you,” Malthouse said he told himself.
“It’s about the team and people that you’ve crossed over a long period of time.
“The greatest thing about this football game, is when you win, you share.
“That’s why I say it’s a shared award.”
Malthouse has spent so long in the game, replying to his well-wishers might take all weekend.
He told SEN radio he had been overwhelmed with supportive messages and hadn’t been able to reply to any of them so far.
But if his coaching history holds true, he’ll be doing so after his 407th win as coach.
In 30 AFL seasons as a senior coach, he’s only finished with a negative win-loss record five times.
He steered the AFL’s original frontier club, the West Coast Eagles, to two flags and then won another with Collingwood in 2010.
There’s no one moment or player or season that stands out for Malthouse, though he did say the 1992 and 1994 flags would never be truly appreciated by those not involved.
Now at his fourth AFL coaching job at Carlton, Friday night’s match looms as an excellent match even without Malthouse’s record.
The Carlton-Collingwood rivalry is one of the AFL’s oldest and strongest and both sides come into the match after wins.
The Blues’ could welcome back Chris Judd (back) and Troy Menzel (calf) from injury for the match.
Ruckman Matthew Kreuzer is fit again after a lengthy footy injury but isn’t up for AFL selection.
Malthouse said he’d be delighted if he could play around 60 per cent of his VFL match this weekend.
“They’ve been very impressive all year … we know we’re in for a hell of a fight,” he said.