Dignity is defined as the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect. Dignity, however, is not something that Darren Jolly has taken with him on his abrupt exit from Collingwood, after a scathing and inappropriate attack on Nathan Buckley and all those associated with the football club.
In one of his best dummy spats yet, Jolly went kicking and screaming. Like a toddler in the aisle of of Toys ‘R Us who didn’t get his favourite action man toy, he has cracked it. The baby, quite literally, has been tossed out with the bathwater. It won’t surprise some that Jolly elected to use a cheap way to take aim at his now former club and coach; after all, Buckley bashing is the flavour of the month and he’s only doing what a select few have done before him in recent times.
Unlike most, Jolly was touched by the hand of God after having the astute pleasure of playing in a Bloods premiership side that broke the drought of 72 years. This culture, labelled as the ‘Bloods culture’, is what every club should apparently be striving for. It’s something he’s carried with him, and attempted to instil into Collingwood, to the extent that he’s attempted to “correct” areas of the club. He has continuously referred back to the ‘Bloods culture’ in only a way that a non-Swans fan watching Paul Roos commentate a Sydney game can truly attest to. It gets annoying.
To supporters, Jolly was a God send at the end of 2009. He was a linchpin in Collingwood’s 2010 premiership triumph, finally an able-bodied ruckman who preferred a fight than a feed. He had mongrel, aggressiveness, he was as combative in the air as he was at ground level and he kicked goals, too. Jolly played such a pivotal role in Collingwood’s 2010 premiership triumph that he has been credited as the key factor in their ultimate success.
Before this epic launching of the toys from the cot, Jolly was considered a favourite among the Magpie faithful. Now he is considered to be a mercenary, which is a shame; he should be remembered as a premiership hero.
However, there were warning signs and you need not look far to find them. His perhaps ill-tempered and often poorly-timed articles in The Age rubbed plenty of fans, players – both teammates and opposition – and the general footballing fraternity the wrong way.
There’s a breath of fresh of air in those tell-it-as-it-is articles by footballers which are as intriguing as they are insightful, but when things get personal, it’s below the belt.
Initially, he took a sour swipe at former coach in his time at Melbourne Neale Daniher, where he said Daniher was a cold, “very intimidating person” who had little to no time for him, giving him more sprays than pep talks. The ‘woe-is-me’ column reads like a 14 year-old girls diary, penning her thoughts on why the boy she loved at her high school didn’t notice her.
He then took an unqualified attack on one of Collingwood’s favourite sons Josh Fraser in The Age, where he said “unfortunately, he chose to ignore me instead of embracing the situation and barely spoke to me for that entire season. I’m sure if he’d had a better attitude, we could have had a good ruck combination and he would have continued at the Pies for a bit longer.”
The lack of respect enraged those at the top of the tree at Collingwood. This was headed by the playing group who quickly pulled him into line, underlining their disapproval for the attack. The leadership group were quick to act, and in a time where questions were being raised in the media regarding fractures within the playing group and indifference between the players and Nathan Buckley, it added fuel to the fire.
Jolly has a history of potting people in his column, and he has he has not shied away in the past from the opportunity to air his blunt feelings. Alan Didak would’ve felt heart broken, angry and disappointed; all feelings associated of having your AFL career ended for you after 200 odd games, rather than it being your own decision. However, he accepted his fate and didn’t join in on the Buckley Bashing Parade.
The approach Jolly took has left a bitter taste in the mouths of those associated with Collingwood. This has particularly been in the case of the fans that have long adored him, especially given the role he played in 2010. In his closing statement, Jolly said he believed he “could have been the difference” in Collingwood potentially winning the Elimination Final to Port Adelaide, which would have irritated his teammates, particularly Brodie Grundy.
However, it is the total lack of respect shown for Port Adelaide which shines brighter. Should Jolly need reasons why he wasn’t selected in the side that Saturday night, he only need to play back his tapes in the VFL final against Port Melbourne – which would quite easy explain why he wasn’t selected. He also could have looked at the tapes of Brodie Grundy, who displayed urgency, desperation, physicality and ferociousness in performances where he was up against Dean Cox and Todd Goldstein, two of the best in the business.
An 18 year-old – yet to complete a preseason and less than ten games under his belt – overtook Jolly. He was also ultimately delisted in favour of keeping Ben Hudson on the list, who will be 35 at the start of the 2014 season. If that wasn’t enough, Cameron Wood – who also happened to be delisted in favour of Darren Jolly at the end of 2012 – was re-drafted to Carlton, of all clubs, instead of Jolly.
Although Malthouse was one of Jolly’s fondest admirers, even the legendary Malthouse himself knows when a man’s day is done. The claims that his body was sound and that his mind was willing were not heeded by the other 17 clubs, who all ended up overlooking him in the rookie draft. 18 clubs were all under the same impression: his career was finished. As a result, Jolly conceded that his AFL career was over, the very thing he had been told by Buckley at season’s end, which he desperately tried to refute.
Jolly was undoubtedly listening when Eddie McGuire famously fired off at the Copeland Trophy. “A pervasiveness of selfishness has crept in to our club,” McGuire said.
“We won in 2010 by being ‘Side by Side’, by doing everything that is required to win. ‘Side by Side’ means being that always. It’s not about being ‘Side by Side’ when you’re being supported and then turning your back when suddenly it doesn’t suit.”
If a man’s character is defined by his final parting words, then you only need to look at Jason Akermanis’ marathon of running his mouth just to see how easily you can slip back into irrelevance, despite your feats.
Follow Paige on Twitter: @Paigeos_Hotpies