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Sunday Age

Tiger McGuane plays down new family tie

Author: Lyall Johnson
Date: 28/11/2004
Words: 637
Source: SAG
          Publication: The Sunday Age
Section: Sport
Page: 4
THOSE who know Mick McGuane know well how close he is to his family. But, when it comes to his new job at Punt Road, the 1990 Collingwood premiership player said blood ties will not count ahead of the success of the team.

The 155-game veteran and successful country football coach last week received confirmation he had broken back into the AFL. He has been hired by the Tigers as a "forward scout" opposition analyst in an appointment that will bring him together with his 17-year-old cousin, Luke, Richmond's fifth pick in the national draft, No. 36 overall.

But anyone who thought it might be a conflict of interest for McGuane obviously had not asked him. His philosophy on football is simple: get your own ball, know what to do with it when you get it and, if you cannot stand on your own two feet, then you should give the game away. It's the same rules for everyone, even family members.

"I look after Luke, anyway," McGuane said last week of his cousin, who is the son of McGuane's uncle, Gavin, a legend at Queensland's Southport Football Club. "It's not just because I'm with Richmond and I obviously have a close attention to detail with him.

"But it's not my job to look after him now. He's a young man now, he can make his own decisions. He's just got to row his own canoe the right way now and make sure he does everything right and what's expected of him.

"I'm pretty unemotional when it comes to your own getting involved in footy circles. I've always said footy's an impersonal game. And if Luke can't take criticism the right way and takes it personally, he won't succeed in this caper."

The young McGuane was a highly regarded junior and, at 192 centimetres, was selected by the Tigers as a potential key-position player. The older McGuane was handpicked by Terry Wallace after four successful years as coach of Burnie in Tasmania and Gisborne in the Bendigo league, his teams reaching four grand finals, winning three, and clocking up 70 wins from 75 matches.

Yet, for all his talk of being dispassionate towards his cousin when he has to deal with him at Richmond, the Collingwood legend said he is not only thrilled for him to get a chance to break into the AFL, but also thrilled for Luke's father, Gavin, who was blinded 10 years ago in a workplace accident.

"I'm rapt the kid's got an opportunity, but I'm probably more rapt for my uncle," McGuane explained.

"I was actually training that night and I got the message when I was on the training track. And, with how close Gavin and I are, I just jumped on a plane and went straight up there.

"He was managing a bar and tripped over a mat and activated the old barrel system, and all the gas and alkaline just burnt his eyes out. He's got one eye permanently closed and he's got, I think, about 18 or 16 per cent vision in his other.

"The last 10 years has been a little bit of torture, so the announcement of Luke getting a position at Richmond has probably put a bit of those bad times behind him."

McGuane is hoping his new job will help him to establish himself as a senior coach, a vocation that is in the blood. When he won a premiership at Burnie four years ago, he became the fifth of the McGuane clan to coach a senior club to a premiership.

His father, Bryan, was successful as coach of Sebastapol in the 1970s, his uncle Tommy (now deceased) with Bungaree, his uncle Terry took Golden Point to a flag and Luke's father Gavin won with Southport.

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