There have been many times in my 32 years with a dad in the football “spotlight” when I have wanted to come out publicly and defend him for the non-truths being told. However I was always taught to ignore it and rise above the critics, that he only wanted to focus on the team and that the public would work out the truths from the stories in their own time. I know dad still stands by this (I must admit the fact that he doesn’t defend himself does drive myself and the family crazy at times!) So without insulting anyone, I wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my dad for the person he is.
When I see Michael (Mick) Malthouse in front of me, I see my dad, as simple as that. I see the man that brought me up (in partnership with my mum Nanette) to be a strong, loving, caring, loyal and hard working wife, mother, friend and employee. The man that may not have always been present in the physical sense due to his commitments to football, but was still always there when I needed him. The man who taught me right from wrong and encouraged me to be my very best at all that I did, but was still there to catch and comfort me when I didn’t quite succeed. He is the man who still makes me laugh more than any other (ok... on a par with my husband) and is also the one that found humour in embarrassing me at school by bringing my lunch into my class when I had left it at home…and I am talking high school! He is loyal and protective of me and gives unconditional love, like all fathers should. He is simply an amazing dad and grand father for that matter and I love him for it.
People always ask me what it is like having “Mick” as my dad? For me I don’t know it any other way, it’s what he has done since I can remember, I guess the only difference is that when he makes a mistake or there is speculation or controversy about him or even when he is successful, that the whole of Australia knows about it. It is for this reason I do try at times to sit back and look at my dad as the coach. When I see him working on his team on the magnet board at home, at training or when I go to watch Collingwood F.C play, I see Mick Malthouse as a mastermind. The man that doesn’t just coach but teaches and manages his boys. Mick has coached 3 teams now all of which were struggling at the time of his appointment, and has developed them into dare I say it, very successful teams. (I unlike some, I do not always base success on a win/loss record but look at where the team and the individuals were at before he took over.) I have seen him take sides lacking a little in talent and polish, to be final contenders. There have been games when I have never seen him coach so well (knowing the adversity that the club at the time may have been going through) whereby he is absolutely exhausted afterward, only to lose and have to face the awaiting media. I must say now that I am very proud of that fact that I have never heard him blame his players, after one of these losses, even at times when clearly they were the reason for the loss. Maybe not always from lack of heart but simply because they lacked the talent of the opposition. To me Mick Malthouse is the best coach in the game and without disrespecting the other coaches of the AFL (as I know there are some very good coaches out there); I cannot foresee anyone replacing him of this stature for a long time to come. People may say I am biased because he is my dad; the fact that he is just that, surely gives me the right to be.
As his 28 years at the helm comes to an end, I hope that “people” will finally sit back and acknowledge what this man has achieved and done for the game of VFL/AFL. Who knows, someone may do a tribute to him yet.
Dani Kearney (nee Malthouse)
Below are some of the achievements of Mick Malthouse, just to refresh some memories.
Playing Record: St Kilda 1972-1976 53 games, Richmond 1976-1983 121 games (including 1980 Premiership)
Coaching Record: Footscray 1984-1989 135 games, West Coast 1990-1999 243 games (including 1992 & 1994 Premierships), Collingwood 2000- Present 282 games (including 2010 Premiership)
Awards: 1985 Players Association Coach of the Year, 1991 Inaugural AFL Coach of the Year, 1992, 1994 & 2010 Jock McHale Medal, 1995 JJ Leonard Medal, 2000 Australian Sports Medal, 2001 Centenary Medal, 2005 North Ballarat Football Club Hall of Fame, 2007 Ballarat Sports Hall of Fame, 2008 & 2010 Australian Coach – International Rules Series, AFL Life Member, West Coast Eagles Life Member, 2010 AFL Coaches Association Coach of the Year, West Coast Eagles Club Hall of Fame.