Ten’s Melbourne sports anchor Stephen Quartermain last night
refused to back down from his report claiming
Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse had offered the club his resignation.
But even before the story went to air, a furious Malthouse and
club officials were adamant he did no such thing. Yet the highly
experienced
AFL reporter and commentator believed he had reliable sources and
wasn’t dissuaded by any denials.

“If we didn’t run stories because people deny them we would
just be running colour bars every night and you’d be running blank pages,”
Mark Robinson quoted him as saying in today’s Herald Sun. “I checked my
sources out and it was correct…and they deny, they deny. We’re at a bit of an
impasse aren’t we.”

According to Quartermain’s story, Malthouse offered to resign
after a particularly hard felt loss to the less fancied Essendon in
Round 16 at the MCG. When asked to
respond to the
report, Malthouse is quoted by the paper as saying: “Why would I comment on bullsh*t?”

Quartermain and McGuire are close friends, so the Ten
reporter wouldn’t easily dismiss the Collingwood denials including those from
McGuire, unless he was truly convinced the story was essentially true.

What is not beyond dispute is that McGuire was a very unhappy man
after the Essendon game – by the time he had made the long
walk from the Nine commentary box to the Magpies dressing rooms and put on his
president’s face, he was seething at what he saw as an embarrassing
performance.

It was reported that he put the majority of his football
department on notice when he is said to have calmly but with deadly insistence
informed them: “We can’t keep serving up that cr*p. I want you blokes to
go away and think about how we can fix it.”

Later the club announced it would undertake a thorough review of
its football operations post season by bringing in outside experts, and McGuire
didn’t shrink from agreeing that if such a review showed some people “aren’t
up to it,” heads would roll. But he also insisted his coach’s job was
safe.

Quartermain’s story could
well have lifted the lid on a coach’s reaction to all this – Malthouse would not
have taken kindly to the manner in which his football department was being held
up to examination. Not that it wasn’t the right of the president to exercise
his discretion in this matter; rather that it ended up being so publicly
debated and commented on in the media. Quartermain has made a gusty call and
now we shall wait to see who’s on the money.

Peter Fray

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