It was once said, at the height of his power, Eddie McGuire was a conundrum.

He'd give money to a homeless person outside Flinders St one day and crack jokes about Adam Goodes and King Kong the next.

He'd fight with people he worked with one day - all demanding and savage at times in his pursuit of excellence - and be best buddies the next.

He would argue and crucify footy media types one day and then proclaim he did not carry grudges the next.

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He was passionate, arrogant, intriguing and confusing and rarely would he be in a room where he never thought he was the smartest among them all.

True, he would listen to you speak, but the feeling was he was waiting for you to draw breath.

"Let me just say this …'' was his go-to commentary - a Caesar-like proclamation in another era; Trump-like in our most recent times.

He's smart, Ed, but also half smart, a bloke who found trouble because he was opinionated, passionate and believed humour or gags or spin could cut through the most delicate of discussions.

An emotional Eddie McGuire at Tuesday’s press conference. Picture: Alex Coppel
An emotional Eddie McGuire at Tuesday’s press conference. Picture: Alex Coppel

Too many times in a room in which he believed he was king, he didn't read the room.

It's a shame after 23 years as Collingwood president, where his achievements at the club and in society were monstrously brilliant and well executed, that he departs not of his doing.

The past 10 days are considered the melting pot which McGuire could not raise his head from.

The 'Do Better' report into systemic racism and his response drew tremendous and, in some places, savage ire.

He should have read the room then, and apologised and resigned with a level of dignity and responsibility. He didn't.

It is speculated the world closed in on him last Tuesday, ahead of the annual general meeting, when board directors openly discussed whether McGuire should resign. He resisted.

The players and staff released a statement saying sorry, devised in a meeting without the president. It was brutal symbolism. Still, he hung on.

 

Eddie McGuire’s greatest strength was often his greatest weakness.
Eddie McGuire’s greatest strength was often his greatest weakness.

 

Then on Monday, the open letter from indigenous leaders and politicians, demanding he resign … well, only Ed knows the impact of that on his decision.

Indeed, it's been a big week in football for Eddie McGuire.

But the melting pot began to bubble long before last week.

McGuire's slide from "Eddie Everywhere" to "Eddie: What Have You Done?" started with his King Kong comment in 2013.

He survived that, too, but rightly it has haunted him and his reputation since.

Collingwood also will be tarred with the 'Do Better' review, a document that McGuire, as president for more than two decades, has to wear.

He wanted to be better, he wanted this season to play out so he could accomplish change and propel process and direction, but the damage had set in.

"An historic and proud day …"

 

Eddie McGuire leaves Collingwood. Picture: Alex Coppel.
Eddie McGuire leaves Collingwood. Picture: Alex Coppel.

 

McGuire's departure will both wound and appease Collingwood fans.

For all his greatness, McGuire was run out of Collingwood. That will hurt him badly.

His supporters will call it bullshit, but he had to go. The club needed clear air and with McGuire still there, clear air was unavailable.

His devotion to his football club, I'd argue, would run deeper than any other president in football history.

He fuelled rivalry and he gathered the tribe.

He'd make himself to known to everyone associated with Collingwood - "you're part of the Collingwood family" was a catch cry.

He harnessed loyalty and togetherness. He saved Collingwood at the start and then rebuilt faith in the gang of diehards, all two million of them.

 

Eddie McGuire was loyal to a fault when it came to his players. Picture: Alex Coppel
Eddie McGuire was loyal to a fault when it came to his players. Picture: Alex Coppel

 

He loved the players. And he helped the players.

Last week former player Chris Egan criticised the club with a social media post about the review and McGuire's response.

Twelve years earlier McGuire helped pay Egan's $25,000 fine for unpaid toll bills.

How many of those stories haven't or can't be told? The ones about drunken escapades, or repaid gambling debts, or life issues. McGuire was a giver.

The conundrum that is Eddie, however, was prevailing, especially in recent years.

He'd speak about humanity and justice and respect and his list of Collingwood's achievements in those areas cannot be denied, even though self congratulations can be hollow.

But he'd also put his foot in it.

 

Eddie McGuire after releasing the Do Better report. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Eddie McGuire after releasing the Do Better report. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

 

Like the night he made a comment about the coin tosser in Sydney.

Yes, he was a conundrum.

In the end, the king of spin spun himself into a mess and he couldn't spin himself out of it.

Last Monday, when Australia expected sincerity, personal apology and all-round contrition, they got a salesman who emphasised the sun shining in the future and not enough about the darkness of the past.

The question today is: "Was Eddie good for Collingwood?"

No doubt he was.

Was he good for the game? Yes, but not always.

A man with a huge heart and love for the game was toppled on Tuesday, which many would find a conundrum itself.

Originally published as Robbo: A shame Eddie run out of his own club



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