Although nobody has forgotten Wayne Carey’s
tumultuous departure from the Kangaroos in 2002, his reputation has undergone
some old-fashioned “time heals all wounds” type rehabilitation in recent times.

He left the Adelaide Crows on more or less
good terms and took to his role on the Fox Footy Channel like he was made for
television commentary. With his playing days behind him, he stepped into the
coaching realm, first on a voluntary basis with Carlton, and most recently in a
paid role at Collingwood, where he has received rare praise from his
understudies.

According to Collingwood man-mountain
Anthony Rocca,
Carey is an even better coach than he was a player.

Far be it from Crikey to start a rumour,
but with Channel Seven looking to pick a starting line-up for next year’s
commentary team, Carey’s softened public image might have at least earned him
an interview.

But a story in this morning’s Herald Sun – linking Carey to a V8 Supercar grid girl, before making a pointed reference
to Wayne and Sally’s new baby – has potentially burst the bubble on Carey’s
return to the good books. Terry McMahon, Sally Carey’s father, said that if his
daughter’s husband was to visit the family home in Wagga Wagga “he’ll be going
out in a box”.

It may all be scuttlebutt, and may pass
without affecting Carey’s burgeoning coaching and TV careers. But as Shane
Warne learned when Channel Nine severed ties with him after one too many
extra-marital dalliances, reputation counts for something in your post-playing
career, at least in the short term.

You can bet Carey’s minders, not to mention
new employers, are hoping this isn’t a return to the bad old days. But even if it
is, if Carey somehow manages to turn Chris Tarrant, Travis Cloke and Anthony
Rocca into a multi-pronged goal scoring machine, you can bet the Collingwood
fans will find plenty of room for forgiveness.

Peter Fray

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