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How Nathan Buckley’s future wife courted the AFL superstar and why she DIDN’T like her fellow WAGS

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Nathan Buckley’s wife of 18 years asked the AFL superstar where his partner and children were when the pair first met – before snagging a date and eventually tying the knot.

The Collingwood head coach and his wife Tania announced on Friday that they separated 11 months ago after almost two decades of marriage.  

The former couple have been co-parenting their two sons Ayce, 12, and Jett, 14, in the months since the break-up.

Buckley and Tania said ‘I do’ in 2002, just three years after a chance meeting at a St Kilda restaurant, which was owned by friends they had in common.

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Nathan Buckley’s wife of 18 years Tania asked the AFL superstar where his partner and children were when the pair first met – before snagging a date and eventually tying the knot.  The couple are pictured together in 2000

The Collingwood head coach and his wife Tania (pictured) announced on Friday that they separated 11 months ago after almost two decades of marriage

The Collingwood head coach and his wife Tania (pictured) announced on Friday that they separated 11 months ago after almost two decades of marriage 

Buckley was the newly appointed Collingwood captain and had been single for 10 months after ending a relationship with radio and TV presenter Shelley Ware when Tania quizzed him about his personal life.

‘Where are your wife and kids?’ She asked.  

Tania relived the pair’s meeting in an interview with the Herald Sun in 2011.  

‘I thought maybe he was out on the town,’ she recalled. 

‘He said, ”No, I’m not married and I don’t have kids”. So I thought, ”Oh, OK then”, and I gave him a cheeky smile.’ 

Buckley’s friends were discussing going somewhere else and Tania said she would not join them, instead saying she would go ‘up the road’.

The AFL couple issued a statement via Tania's Instagram page on Friday, publicly announcing they actually split in January

The AFL couple issued a statement via Tania’s Instagram page on Friday, publicly announcing they actually split in January

Buckley and Tania are seen with their son Jett ahead of announcing his retirement from AFL in 2007

Buckley and Tania are seen with their son Jett ahead of announcing his retirement from AFL in 2007

She took her bag and left but was quickly followed by Buckley, who ran up the street behind her and asked if he could join her.

Tania told the publication that’s how their romance ‘started’. 

Her father, a Collingwood supporter in his own right, was very impressed when Tania brought home a younger Buckley.

The family weren’t surprised when just a year later at a BBQ Buckley asked Tania to marry him in front of everyone.

The former WAG also previously touched on how she struggled to fit in with the Collingwood community in the early days.

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She described it as one of the most difficult times in her life.   

‘It was very hard to sit with the wives and girlfriends. The girls made it very tough to break in as an outsider,’ she said.  

Back in 2001, Tania sparked a media storm after walking the Brownlow Medal red carpet in a daring soft pink frock.

Back in 2001, Tania sparked a media storm after walking the Brownlow Medal red carpet in a daring soft pink frock (pictured)

Back in 2001, Tania sparked a media storm after walking the Brownlow Medal red carpet in a daring soft pink frock (pictured) 

The iconic dress featured a sequinned G-string intentionally attached to the base of Tania’s back. 

The couple announced their break-up on Tania’s Instagram.   

‘It has been a tough and challenging year for every family and for ours included,’ the statement read.

‘It is with the utmost of love and respect for each other and a true commitment to our sons, that we made a decision to separate in January. 

‘We remain dedicated parents and in the interests of our boys, we ask for our family to be given the privacy that is needed.

‘We thank everyone in advance for understanding our request and for the unconditional love and support we have received throughout our marriage.’

All grown up: The mother-of-two put on a more conservative display at the 2018 ceremony (pictured)

Buckley and Tania (pictured in 2017) said ‘I do’ in 2002, just three years after a chance meeting at a St Kilda restaurant, which was owned by friends they had in common 

After the Magpies lost the AFL Grand Final to Richmond in Queensland, Buckley moved out of the family home when he returned to Melbourne.

Buckley is reportedly now staying at an apartment in South Yarra, which is owned by his friend Paul Roberts – a TLA sports executive.

Buckley played 20 games for the Brisbane Bears before joining Collingwood in 1994.

He played 260 matches for the Magpies and booted 263 goals, becoming one of the club’s most decorated players.

By 1999, he was captain of the team – a position he held until he retired in 2007.

In 2002, Buckley married Tania and won the Norm Smith Medal in the same year.

The next year, he won the Brownlow Medal.

He took over the senior coaching role at the Magpies in 2012 after the controversial departure of Mick Malthouse.

Buckley (left) and his wife Tania (right) attend the Brownlow Medal in Melbourne in 2018

Buckley (left) and his wife Tania (right) attend the Brownlow Medal in Melbourne in 2018

 

It’s been the worst kept secret for months and now it’s out. Nathan Buckley has split with his wife Tania. But Collingwood fans couldn’t give a toss if it means he might finally WIN a flag writes WAYNE FLOWER

They say footy is a funny game. 

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The expression usually has little to do with humour. 

The sad fact that Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has split with his wife Tania after 18 years will surprise hardly any of the Magpie Army. 

Nathan and Tania Buckley split before the 2020 season even got underway

Nathan and Tania Buckley split before the 2020 season even got underway 

It’s been an open secret around footy traps for months. 

Footy forum BigFooty.com has been banging on about Bucks for most of the year. 

The now infamous tennis match Buckley was caught out at while in lockdown just poured fuel on the fire. 

Collingwood handed Buckley a $50,000 fine – half of it suspended – after he and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson played tennis with Australia’s Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik and one other unauthorised person from outside of the Magpies’ Perth hub. 

They had been barred from playing with anyone not living in the Collingwood hub during the COVID pandemic.

Buckley admitted the negative attention around the breach had not helped his side, who was flogged by Fremantle the following game. 

To be blunt, Collingwood fans care very little about the former champion’s personal life. 

As long as it doesn’t interfere with his capacity to win premierships. 

The reality is, Nathan Buckley is yet to bring home the bacon for his beloved Pies. 

He really should have by now. 

Buckley was anointed the successor to champion coach Mick Malthouse in 2009.

It was a controversial move that split fans down the middle.  

And then Collingwood won the flag in 2010.

You’d have imagined Buckley’s gig might have been scuttled. 

But Collingwood president Eddie McGuire pushed ahead with Buckley all the same and gave Malthouse – a Collingwood premiership winning coach – the boot.  

Hindsight will declare it a disastrous move that set Collingwood on a path of ‘coulda been champions’. 

Nathan Buckley was a great Collingwood player. Dedicated, fit and ended his playing career without a flag. He hasn't fared much better as a coach

Nathan Buckley was a great Collingwood player. Dedicated, fit and ended his playing career without a flag. He hasn’t fared much better as a coach

Rumours have swirled around why Nathan Buckley escaped the quarantine pod for a hit of tennis with Alicia Molik

Rumours have swirled around why Nathan Buckley escaped the quarantine pod for a hit of tennis with Alicia Molik

Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley is hugged by his son after an April match

Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley is hugged by his son after an April match

Fast forward to the 2020 pre-season. 

Buckley has now confirmed he and his wife had mutually decided to separate in January.

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‘It has been a tough and challenging year for every family and for ours included,’ the statement by Tania on Instagram read.

‘It is with the utmost love and respect for each other and a true commitment to our sons, that we have made a decision to separate in January.’

Tania Buckley was right when she said it had been a tough year. 

Collingwood members had forked out full price for a year’s worth of footy and got absolutely nothing back in return. 

Had Buckley brought home the premiership cup from Queensland, they might have forgiven them for being so stingy on the 2021 membership fees. 

Buckley not only failed again, he led the club through a disastrous trade period where beloved players were discarded like yesterday’s newspapers. 

Buckley was said to have treated the boys with cold contempt. 

It opened queries about his ability to manage different personalities, with regular conversations among fans about personality clashes. 

For an athlete as disciplined as Buckley, the tennis game with Molik just seemed so out of the ordinary it reeked of a man who had lost the plot. 

To say Buckley’s performance off the field this year has been odd is an understatement.  

Nathan Buckley failed to bring home the premiership cup in 2020

Nathan Buckley failed to bring home the premiership cup in 2020

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley celebrates the win with son Ayce Buckley and President Eddie McGuire in April. By then, he had already split with Tania

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley celebrates the win with son Ayce Buckley and President Eddie McGuire in April. By then, he had already split with Tania 

A glance at Tania Buckley’s Instagram page shows a picture of matrimonial bliss. 

‘The A Team’, Tania called the couple under a photo of them together laughing. 

When Daily Mail Australia asked Collingwood to comment on the suspected split early last month, spin doctor Stephen Reilly responded with traditional venom.

‘Please don’t waste my time with over-imaginative gossip,’ he said. 

This from a man who at the height of COVID-19 flat out lied about Collingwood going into isolation. 

Collingwood has always been hyper sensitive to negative press. 

Especially about its president and Buckley. 

But Collingwood fans are tired of the off-field games and apparent lack of honesty and ‘side-by-side’ togetherness sung so proudly by Collingwood players after winning matches. 

It doesn’t matter if Buckley is single, married or becomes a monk, they’ll be throwing away their memberships if he doesn’t deliver a premiership next season. 

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