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Collingwood coach Craig McRae had the message “44 sons” written under the collar of the shirt he wore through Saturday’s epic grand final to signify how he felt about each player in the Magpies squad during 2023 as they drove towards a premiership.
McRae revealed the legacy theme when he spoke to players, coaches, past players club employees, and their friends and family at Collingwood’s official post-premiership celebrations held at Centrepiece in Melbourne on Saturday night.
Craig McRae with Brayden Maynard.Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images
He said each player on the list did the same, inscribing a personal message under the collar of their own jumper with words describing the legacy they wanted to leave as a person and a player in 2023.
“All the players had inside their jumper something they want to be remembered for,” McRae said.
“It was an action. It was theirs … when we created legacy, today players ideally lived theirs. In my shirt I had [written] 44 sons. I’ve got three beautiful daughters now, I don’t have a son, but I consider all these guys in the squad my sons, so I wore that under my collar today.”
The Magpies coach said on Saturday night he was yet to return to St Vincent’s Hospital where his wife Gabrielle gave birth to their daughter Maggie at 7.45am on grand final morning. Gabrielle went to the hospital with her sister at 10pm on Friday night after going into labour, before ringing McRae at 6am to join them at the hospital to be with them when the baby was born.
Collingwood president Jeff Browne praised McRae and the players for their character and driving the change the club undertook when the new coach was appointed.
He said the win was “the ultimate satisfaction” for him, and he was rapt to be there after a health scare put him in hospital briefly on the eve of the finals.
“[It was] a bit of pit stop, a little bit of late pre-season training and got myself back into it,” Browne said.
Past presidents Mark Korda and Eddie McGuire, as well as previous coach and champion player Nathan Buckley, Anthony Rocca, Luke Ball and Sharrod Wellingham were among the throng celebrating the club’s 16th premiership. Browne said the club wanted to recognise and acknowledge that any success was built on the efforts of those who went before them.
“We are one big club. We are Collingwood … this club has got a rich history, and days like this celebrate that history and salute the people that have gone before. We should never forget that,” Browne said.
After congregating in a circle in the middle of the MCG where they told each other what the win meant to them, the players appeared before fans gathered at the AIA Centre where the Collingwood chant was being sung loud and proud.
They then sang the club theme song at Centrepiece before Daryl Braithwaite appeared for three songs. Ruckman Darcy Cameron revealed he could hold a mark better than a tune when he joined Braithwaite and his band on stage to sing The Horses.
Premiership keepsake: Click here to download a Collingwood premiership poster fresh from today’s edition of The Age
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