Drugs, assault and betting.
No we are not talking about the West Coast Eagles, we are talking about the 2010 Collingwood premiership team.
Last week Scott Pendlebury suggested the Magpies suffered a premiership hangover in 2011, because players over celebrated the 2010 flag.
It is difficult to support Pendlebury’s claims given the Magpies lost only two games for the home and away season and were trailing Geelong by only seven points at three quarter time in the Grand Final.
But what Pendlebury’s accusations raise is a discussion about the teams off-field antics during the early part of the decade.
The 2006 West Coast premiership is blemished because of the off field antics of it’s players.
There is no evidence to suggest party drugs can be performance enhancing, but nonetheless the misdemeanours of the West Coast players have left many, including veteran AFL journalist Mike Sheahan questioning the feats of the Eagles.
“The longer it goes the more convinced I am that there’s a taint attached to West Coast in 2006,” Sheahan said on 1116 SEN.
“Wallsy (Robert Walls) said immediately after that premiership win that he thought it was tainted, I taunted him at the time and said it was ungracious, but I’m now in Wallsy’s corner.
“I think the evidence suggests that there was a drug culture that was rife at West Coast at that time.”
In October 2016, former Collingwood player Dane Swan admitted to experimenting with illicit drugs.
“I have experimented with what some people call recreational drugs, but have never taken performance-enhancing drugs or what you might call ‘heavy’ drugs.”
Swan also went on to say that only a small contingent of teammates have also used drugs.
It was not revealed when Swan used the drugs but in 2012, Collingwood CEO Gary Pert said the “volcanic behaviour” of players during the off-season and the use of drugs was the biggest issue in the AFL.
Like Ben Cousins, Swan was the biggest name in the Magpies side.
Cousins was said to have had an influence on the younger players at the club, including Chad Fletcher and Daniel Kerr.
At Collingwood Swan was part of the ‘Rat Pack’, a group of rebel teammates, which included Ben Johnson, Alan Didak, Heath Shaw and Dale Thomas.
A 2013 report by the Australian Government showed eight million Australian’s over the age of 14 had consumed illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime
It is not right to accuse individuals of using drugs but if a well renowned player like Swan has experimented with drugs, it could influence teammates to experiment as well.
Drugs were not the only issue the Magpies faced during the 2010 period.
Two days after the premiership two players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman, while in 2011 Heath Shaw was suspended for eight matches for placing a bet on captain Nick Maxwell to kick the first goal in a Round 9 clash against Adelaide.
Off field behaviour should not dampen the on-field success of a team, unless the off-field incidents are proven to be performance enhancing.
West Coast’s problems were not found to have enhanced player performances, yet still people question the teams success.
Yet no one argues the party culture at Collingwood during the 2010 premiership season is anymore than ‘boys having fun’.
If the Eagles success is questioned then so too should Collingwood’s, or we should just accept the players made mistakes off field but on-field they achieved undeniable success.
The mistakes of the bad boy Eagles has overshadowed the success of the unimpeachable Chris Judd, Dean Cox and Andrew Embley.
The same goes for Collingwood, where the party boys have prevented the likes of Scott Pendlebury, Nick Maxwell and Steel Sidebottom from winning a second flag.