Pies flag tainted by off-field misdemeanour’s

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.

Dane Swan – The unexpected superstar

“With pick 58 the Collingwood Football Club select, Dane Swan from Calder Cannons.”

The year was 2001, Swan was still celebrating schoolies on the Gold Coast and Collingwood had just unknowingly discovered a diamond in the rough.

Swan quickly acquainted himself with the media and newspapers, although unfortunately for Collingwood he often found himself on the front page, rather than the back.

After refusing to leave schoolies to visit his new club, Swan floated through his first few years according to his father, Billy Swan.

Had it not been for his father’s memorable 300 game career with Port Melbourne, Swan may have never earned his place on an AFL list.

Yet the young larrikin almost threw his short career away on one eventful evening in December 2003.

With his cousin, Aaron Ramsey and Kade Carey, Swan was caught in an altercation with a local cleaner in Federation Square.

Mick Malthouse and the club decided to give Swan one last chance, a chance that Swan has turned into a phenomenal career.

Swan himself acknowledges that it was after the 2003 brawl that the “penny dropped” and he decided “playing AFL was something he wanted to do”.

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By 2006 Swan had cemented his place in Collingwood’s best 22, as the late bloomer finished sixth in the Copeland trophy.

With his trademark waddle and laid-back charisma, Swan quite literally stumbled into the spotlight.

As interchange rotations reached an all-time high, Swan’s burst style of play was proving unstoppable.

The “untaggable” machine went from strength to strength and won his first Copeland Trophy in 2008, an award that he would hold for three consecutive years.

The 2010 and 2011 seasons proved a golden period for the Magpies and Swan, who added a Premiership and Brownlow medal to his bulging trophy cabinet.

Despite the nonchalant façade, Swan has unashamedly proclaimed it’s the 2010 premiership he is proudest of.

As for the Brownlow, well its “stuffed away in the cupboard” with his numerous All-Australian trophies.

After a self-confessed “putrid” 2014 season, Swan responded the following year in stunning fashion. He silenced the critics, averaging 29 disposals and finishing runner-up in the 2015 Copeland trophy.

Tragically, his 2016 season and career was ended in a matter of seconds in the opening round.

As the tattooed champion lay helpless on the SCG turf, football lost a superstar and personality the league will likely never see again.

Swan has always done things his way, never content to simply tow the party line. While it has landed him in hot water over the years, it’s also the very fabric of the legacy he leaves behind.

With his trademark humour, unforgettable waddle, endless tattoos and most importantly, his serious case of leather poisoning, Swan has undeniably left his mark on the football world.

And for that, every Collingwood fan, and football fan for that matter, is forever grateful.