Craig McRae has been rewarded for his stunning debut season in charge of Collingwood by being named the AFL’s coach of the year.
The 48-year-old beat grand final combatants John Longmire (Sydney Swans) and Chris Scott (Geelong) for the AFL Coaches Association’s top award.
It caps off a remarkable rookie year for McRae, who took the Magpies from 17th last year to one point away from a grand final.
Collingwood were knocked out of the premiership race by the Swans in an epic preliminary-final tussle at the SCG last Saturday.
The triple Brisbane premiership player was presented with the award by his former Lions coach Leigh Matthews.
“I’m very grateful to receive this award by my peers,” McRae said.
“It is a reflection of the combined efforts of everyone involved in the football program and the wider club this season and affirmation of their hard work and perseverance.
“I have enormous pride in our people and, as a club, we will continue to strive to be better each and every day over the course of the pre-season and into 2023.”
McRae was appointed Collingwood coach in August 2021 after Nathan Buckley exited the job during the middle of that season.
AFL Coaches Association boss Alistair Nicholson congratulated McRae on his first season at Collingwood.
“What Craig has been able to achieve in his first year as senior coach of Collingwood is remarkable and he should be proud of being voted by his peers as the 2022 Allan Jeans AFL Coaches Association Senior Coach of the Year,” Nicholson said.
“Whilst there’ll be some disappointment after narrowly missing a grand-final appearance, the belief and will to win he has instilled in his playing group in such a short time to see them rise back up the ladder this season has been thrilling to watch.”