Why fans may not have seen the last of coach Lyon

Just like his good mate, Paul Roos, before him, Ross Lyon has opened a sliver of light in a door that was seemingly slammed shut.

Roosy, of course, was never coaching again until he suddenly was.

And for Lyon, the former St Kilda and Fremantle Grand Final coach, the sense of finality about his coaching future now has real hues of grey.

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A little over 12 months since his last coaching gig, Ross Lyon says he may consider a return.
A little over 12 months since his last coaching gig, Ross Lyon says he may consider a return.

This comes at a time when Collingwood considers whether or not it extends Nathan Buckley's contract - a coach whose win-loss record isn't helping the Magpies' narrative about waiting until the last third of the home-and-away season to determine his future.

For premiership coach Roos, the folding stuff was handy but meeting a bunch of downtrodden Melbourne players desperate for direction re-lit the coaching fire when he had believed he would never return.

For Lyon, surely the sense of unfinished business is a factor even when he has a comfortable life mixing media responsibilities with commercial real estate.

To prove that he can win a premiership, and prove to the doubters out there that he still has what it takes after his unceremonious departure from Fremantle.

One confidante as recently as Sunday said he would be "staggered" if Lyon returned to coaching given their conversations this year.

But one of his best mates in Nick Riewoldt made clear on Fox Footy on Friday night that Lyon wasn't totally done yet.

When asked if Lyon would ever coach again, Riewoldt joked with a famous Jim Carrey line: "So you are telling me there's a chance … a small chance."

Lyon couldn’t quite get St Kilda over the line in 2010.
Lyon couldn’t quite get St Kilda over the line in 2010.

But then came the kicker.

"(I) might have had Rossy in my ear saying, 'Stop ruling me out altogether because you might be costing me'," Riewoldt said.

"I would be surprised but he's a football man at heart. There might be a little flicker.

"You would be negligent in your duties if you weren't making a phone call and if you make a compelling enough case, who knows?"

Lyon told the News Corp's Jay Clark in the Triple M box on Sunday he wouldn't rule out considering an approach.

"I'm 12 months out, and I'm a bit fresher," Lyon said.

"The only way I would ever consider doing it, there's a few assistants that I really respect their knowledge and what they're capable of. You would need quality assistants."

Lyon is mixing media responsibilities with commercial real estate at the moment.
Lyon is mixing media responsibilities with commercial real estate at the moment.

As a coach with defensive sensibilities that wins finals - nine of them - Roos has proven himself a spectacular success at getting the best out of mature lists.

At St Kilda, in Grant Thomas' wake, he had the Saints in a Grand Final in his third year, and at Fremantle, he was in the play-off by his second season - the Dockers fell 15 points short against Hawthorn in a 11.11 to 8.14 scoreline.

But for accurate kicking that day, and the bounce of the ball in 2010, he would be a two-time premiership coach.

Above all else, he is a winner.

After struggling to establish St Kilda's defensive DNA in his first year, he went 13-9, 20-2, 15-1-6, 12-1-9, 14-8, 16-1-6, 16-6 and 17-5 in eight home-and-away seasons with nine winning finals before four years slowly rebuilding the Dockers.

And if he never got the chance to prove he could rebuild a list from the ground up, he still drafted the likes of Adam Cerra, Angus Brayshaw, Luke Ryan, Alex Pearce, Sean Darcy and Matt Taberner.

There were misses - the late Colin Sylvia, Harley Bennell and Cam McCarthy.

But for every ex-Dockers player who believes Lyon was too dogmatic, too inflexible, there is a conga line of disciplines who believed he changed their lives and football careers.

He bristles at the perception he is overly negative, hitting back at Kevin Bartlett in 2012 when the Richmond legend labelled his team unwatchable.

"Kevin's been banging on for a long time. I wish when the teams I coach played great football the headlines were as loud," he said.

In 2019, he said the narrative didn't add up with the reality.

"Everybody just ignores the facts. In 2009, we kicked 100 points (in a game) more times than Geelong did and I think we averaged 99 points (per game).

"There's been times we've been low scoring and I understand that criticism and am happy to wear it. Everybody wants to score."

For a team such as Collingwood, which has had its share of attractive but unfulfilled seasons, Lyon's arrival on the market at least warrants that cup of coffee and polite inquiry.

If Buckley is seen as superior to that untried assistant who arrives with hype but no track record, Lyon represents the big fish who has the chance to change the Collingwood conversation.

Originally published as Why fans may not have seen the last of coach Lyon



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