Two key Collingwood names are yet to be held accountable following a report into “systemic racism within” the club.
Kane Cornes believes coach Nathan Buckley and captain Scott Pendlebury have both escaped scrutiny following the release of the report on Monday.
The 35-page report, commissioned by the club, has found that “Collingwood has become synonymous with off-field and on-field racism in Australian sport” and that “continual failures speak to systemic racism within the Collingwood Football Club that must be addressed if things are to change”.
President Eddie McGuire addressed the media yesterday afternoon, with a lot of the heat falling on him, but Cornes feels that the day-to-day locker room presence of the likes of Buckley and Pendlebury has perhaps been overlooked.
“I wonder how Nathan Buckley is feeling on the back of this. How he was feeling watching that press conference,” Cornes said on SEN SA Breakfast.
“Of course, ‘Bucks’ has been at the Collingwood Football Club since 1994. He’s been a strong leader and behind Eddie McGuire the most famous name at the Collingwood Football Club.
“He got there in ‘94, played for a long time and has coached there basically ever since (apart from 2008 and 2009), under Mick Malthouse and now as head coach.
“He would be embarrassed right now. He would be ashamed not stamping this out earlier under his leadership and under his watch as captain, as assistant coach and as coach.
“I’d also wonder how Scott Pendlebury is feeling. He’s been captain since 2014, he’s the most decorated player to ever play for the Collingwood Football Club, he played with Heritier Lumumba as well.
“It’s not all on Eddie. I think Eddie misread the room badly yesterday. His opening remarks were off but a lot of what he did say was good and positive and that they’re desperate to make change.
“They weren’t denying any of the allegations. You could tell they want to be better and be a pillar for society and the AFL and be a club that sets the benchmark.
“But Scott Pendlebury and Nathan Buckley would have some culpability in this as well. I’m looking forward to hearing them speak.”
Cornes further touched on McGuire and how he handled the press conference, with many indicating he was wide of the mark with many of his responses.
He read from the report: “There is a culture of individuals, if not quite being bigger than the club, then at least having an unhealthy degree of influence over club culture”.
Cornes continued: “Clearly that comment right there is directed at President Eddie McGuire, although he hasn’t been named. No one has been named and that’s been some criticism of the report.
“There’s a lot of big statements in this report but there’s not much else after that in terms of naming names, individuals, who is at fault. It says “individuals have paid a high cost for speaking out against racism at the club”.
“It was broken in the Herald Sun. Collingwood said, ‘Well, we’re in damage control here. We’re going to have to front the media and address this’. Which is what they did.
“The opening remarks from Eddie, were… well he didn’t read the room at all.
“So to say that, this was his biggest mistake out of yesterday. To say that it is a “proud and historic day” for the football club was the wrong thing to say.
“What he should have said and what he failed to do was apologise for it on behalf of the football club and the clear failings that have gone on at Collingwood as a result of this report.
“The word ‘sorry’ wasn’t used. That was his biggest mistake yesterday, not saying sorry, and the use of the word ‘proud’ and it being an historic day for the club.”
Despite the overall criticism, Cornes is of the belief that the Magpies should at least be commended for fronting up and taking their licks, to a degree.
“Besides that though, they fronted up for 55 minutes and answered questions from the media,” he said.
“They have commissioned the report themselves. I don’t think it (the press conference) was as big a train wreck as what most people on Twitter would have you believe.”