TODAY marks the last time we'll see Nathan Buckley wearing that Collingwood polo behind the glass of the coaches' box ... but make no mistake, Buckley, today - as always - will be in it to win it.
Bucks is a competitive warrior, and has always been wired to win.
It is obviously conceivable to see Buckley coaching elsewhere, but the thought of him in anything else than black and white would be shuddering to the faithful that have adored him as a player and coach and have been with him all the way through his incredible Magpie journey which began in 1994.
There was no doubt some opposition fans had question marks on Nathan 'Figjam' Buckley during his early playing days, but one thing is for sure, there was never any questioning of his professionalism, football ability, and that famous competitive spirit.
NINE MONTHS OF HELL Where did it all go wrong with Pies?
Buckley and Collingwood have been an 'item' for almost 30 years. It's been a fascinating union, and a messy end. But Bucks has given his all. Outsiders have watched him turn into a statesman of the game. And he leaves this game universally respected (fans, industry types and the media all like Nathan).
It's been a glorious yet somewhat cruel relationship. The obvious hole in his CV is that premiership cup which now almost feels intrinsic to the whole Buckley story.
It's a story of irony, heartache, individual achievement, and perverse success.
He wins the Rising Star award at Brisbane, and leaves the club. He plays against Brisbane in the 2002 Grand Final, the Pies fall short, he wins the Norm Smith Medal (some say Michael Voss should have got it, but no doubt Buckley was huge). The Pies lose to Brisbane in the Grand Final the following year, as if the footy gods are playing a sick joke on him. His Brownlow Medal is controversial (and by no means should that be read as undeserving), winning in a three-way tie with Adam Goodes and Mark Ricciuto. He's an 'assistant coach' at Collingwood when it breaks its premiership drought in 2010. When he eventually gets into the main chair, he again takes Collingwood to a Grand Final, and a freak Dom Sheed drop punt pierces the goals and Buckley's heart again.
Nathan deserved better. But then again, this is Bucks' story in *black and white* and it's a bloody impressive one. Who knows, maybe there's a final chapter in *colour*, a shock twist and a 'silverware' lining.
If anyone could write that script in football, you feel it could be none other than Nathan Buckley.