United Kingdom

Nathan Buckley's split has been the worst kept secret in media circles for months.

They say footy is a funny game. 

The expression usually has little to do with humour. 

The sad fact that Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has split with his wife Tania after 18 years will surprise hardly any of the Magpie Army. 

Tania Buckley caused a storm when she showed up at the Brownlow in this dress

Nathan and Tania Buckley split before the 2020 season even got underway 

It's been an open secret around footy traps for months. 

Footy forum BigFooty.com has been banging on about Bucks for most of the year. 

The now infamous tennis match Buckley was caught out at while in lockdown just poured fuel on the fire. 

Collingwood handed Buckley a $50,000 fine - half of it suspended - after he and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson played tennis with Australia's Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik and one other unauthorised person from outside of the Magpies' Perth hub. 

They had been barred from playing with anyone not living in the Collingwood hub during the COVID pandemic.

Buckley admitted the negative attention around the breach had not helped his side, who was flogged by Fremantle the following game. 

To be blunt, Collingwood fans care very little about the former champion's personal life. 

As long as it doesn't interfere with his capacity to win premierships. 

The reality is, Nathan Buckley is yet to bring home the bacon for his beloved Pies. 

He really should have by now. 

Buckley was anointed the successor to champion coach Mick Malthouse in 2009.

It was a controversial move that split fans down the middle.  

And then Collingwood won the flag in 2010.

You'd have imagined Buckley's gig might have been scuttled. 

But Collingwood president Eddie McGuire pushed ahead with Buckley all the same and gave Malthouse - a Collingwood premiership winning coach - the boot.  

Hindsight will declare it a disastrous move that set Collingwood on a path of 'coulda been champions'. 

Nathan Buckley was a great Collingwood player. Dedicated, fit and ended his playing career without a flag. He hasn't fared much better as a coach

Rumours have swirled around why Nathan Buckley escaped the quarantine pod for a hit of tennis with Alicia Molik

Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley is hugged by his son after an April match

Tania Buckley took to Instagram to announce her split from Nathan 

Fast forward to the 2020 pre-season. 

Buckley has now confirmed he and his wife had mutually decided to separate in January.

'It has been a tough and challenging year for every family and for ours included,' the statement by Tania on Instagram read.

'It is with the utmost love and respect for each other and a true commitment to our sons, that we have made a decision to separate in January.'

Tania Buckley was right when she said it had been a tough year. 

Collingwood members had forked out full price for a year's worth of footy and got absolutely nothing back in return. 

Had Buckley brought home the premiership cup from Queensland, they might have forgiven them for being so stingy on the 2021 membership fees. 

Buckley not only failed again, he led the club through a disastrous trade period where beloved players were discarded like yesterday's newspapers. 

Buckley was said to have treated the boys with cold contempt. 

It opened queries about his ability to manage different personalities, with regular conversations among fans about personality clashes. 

For an athlete as disciplined as Buckley, the tennis game with Molik just seemed so out of the ordinary it reeked of a man who had lost the plot. 

To say Buckley's performance off the field this year has been odd is an understatement.  

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley and his wife Tania arrive ahead of the 2019 Brownlow Medal at Crown Palladium

Nathan Buckley failed to bring home the premiership cup in 2020

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley celebrates the win with son Ayce Buckley and President Eddie McGuire in April. By then, he had already split with Tania 

A glance at Tania Buckley's Instagram page shows a picture of matrimonial bliss. 

'The A Team', Tania called the couple under a photo of them together laughing. 

When Daily Mail Australia asked Collingwood to comment on the suspected split early last month, spin doctor Stephen Reilly responded with traditional venom.

'Please don’t waste my time with over-imaginative gossip,' he said. 

This from a man who at the height of COVID-19 flat out lied about Collingwood going into isolation. 

Collingwood has always been hyper sensitive to negative press. 

Especially about its president and Buckley. 

But Collingwood fans are tired of the off-field games and apparent lack of honesty and 'side-by-side' togetherness sung so proudly by Collingwood players after winning matches. 

It doesn't matter if Buckley is single, married or becomes a monk, they'll be throwing away their memberships if he doesn't deliver a premiership next season. 

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