21st Birthday Celebrations – of something magnificent

I lay in bed, exhausted. It was late. It was a long and emotional day. We hadn’t won, we hadn’t lost. Strangely, I was at peace. It was the day I accepted my fate as a Collingwood supporter – for better or for worse – for whatever it gave and for whatever it took.

As I lay there in some strange trance, not knowing what tomorrow would bring, my bride of eighteen months asked quizzically “What’s that look for?”. “What look?” I grunted. “That smile, smirk, whatever….” she reached for the words that tried to sum up what my face was illuminating in my day-dreamed state.

You wouldn’t understand,,,,,,, I saw the most amazing thing today“, was the best I could come up with to try to explain it.

Twenty One years from the day and I still can’t find the right words for it, and I still get a chill whenever I see it or when I think about it.

Saturday September 8th, 1990. Waverley Park. Late in the last quarter of the AFL Qualifying Final. It was a high stakes. The pressure was almost unbearable. It was another chance for my Collingwood to take a shot at the painfully long-overdue title. Thirty two long years of chances lost, thrown away and stolen. Thirty two years of heartache and prayers unanswered. Fresh in my mind was a team of promising young stars and skilful veterans who ended 1988 and 1989 without the taste of any September finals success.

We started well but wastefully. The Eagles clawed their way back into the game and looked to be getting on top mid-way through the last quarter. We were clearly good enough in 1990, I thought. We had skill, courage and fight. We had a leader who had lived success. But did we have self belief? And did we have someone who could take the game by the balls?

As things started to look a familiar shade of grim, an ageing battle scarred warrior turned the tide. Cult hero BT, in what was to be his last AFL game, mustered up the energy, strength and will-power for a watershed period of two goals to take us from a 10 point deficit to a 2 point lead.

And then IT happened. IT was the greatest act of football genius I have ever seen. IT will be the greatest act of football genius I will ever see. It went Daicos, Millane, Brown, Millane, Daicos.

Eagles’ star Guy McKenna has the ball deep in defence. Daics’ forward pressure forces a mongrel clearance. The raging bull Millane steamrolls through Captain Worsfold with a perfect hip and shoulder. The elusive Brown swoops and gathers 50 metres from goal on the boundary, dodges and then handballs to Millane who immediately handballs again – broken thumb and all – to the lurking Daicos tight on the boundary 25 metres from goal.

It was in fast forward, but it was in slow motion.

The Macedonian Marvel has the ball. He had produced miracles before, could this be the greatest miracle of them all – he’s 25 metres from goal, on the boundary, facing the wrong way – in the blink of an eye he takes two steps and instinctively attempts the most audacious act imaginable – a low reverse banana from the wrong pocket aimed at a goal space as tight as the Sherrin itself.

Clutching onto my VB security blanket, I stood at the terrace level, Bay 64, directly behind the path of the ball with the famous number 35 burning into my retina. My heart stopped, life stood still, there was silence in my ears. My eyes were transfixed as I watched the ball being propelled from his magical right boot. It was executed to perfection. The ball dissected the posts like a surgeon’s laser and sailed over the line for a miracle goal.

The world erupted. It was only 58,000 but it was pandemonium. The stands shook, the noise was deafening. The ground – terraces, fences, stands and every vantage point – was a scene of delirious jumping, fist pumping, beer spilling and fan hugging that was as spontaneous as the goal itself.

With the miracle performed, he stood there at the boundary like he was facing Mecca, feet firmly planted on the hallowed turf, legs apart, arms aloft, all fingers pointed skyward then symbolically clenched, signalling his miracle to the masses. It was a brief indulgence and celebration that had the symmetry and precision of an Olympic Gold Medallist Gymnast blended with the aura of a Spiritual Guru.

In his 204th game, his 402nd goal was spellbinding. IT was the greatest goal of all time.  IT was an eight point lead. IT was “the sealer”.  We had kicked three inspiring goals in a row and we were entering time-on.

As Collingwood would have it, IT wasn’t the sealer. Instead of instantly inspiring his teammates to victory, I truly believe that they too were sub-consciously caught up in the awe of the moment. Before we knew it, the Eagles were back within a point and Sumich was having a shot after the siren to win the game. As Collingwood would have it again, he missed. And we had to come back next week and do it all again.

As I lay there that night in bed, I knew we should have won. And I knew we should have lost. What I also knew, was that I was one of 58,000 people who witnessed and celebrated a miracle that day and nothing could take that away from us. I relived that miracle goal and savoured it for its instant gratification and despite the uncertainty of next week I had a strange feeling of contentment, relief and fresh hope for the remainder of September and October 1990.

If you want to relive the moment yourself click on the link below



About Ramon Dobb

A footy and cricket fanatic. A lifelong passionate one eyed Mighty Magpie fanatic. My writing is unashamedly written with one black & white eye open only - so please don't take offence, it's nothing personal, it's just the black & white way! Also a lifelong player and member of Washington Park Cricket Club, the Mighty Sharks. My 15 minutes of fame includes regular contributions to Hot Pies, the 1999-2004 Fanzine, and regular contributor to the Coodabeen Champions weekly competition from their heady 3RRR days. Go Pies and Floreat Pica.


  1. Dave Nadel says:

    It’s funny the different things that you remember, Ramon. From the same game I can barely remember Daic’s fabulous kick. All I can remember is Sumich’s kick after the siren and the relief that Sumich had never been as accurate in front of goal as his comtemporaries, Lockett, Dunstall and Taylor.

  2. E.regnans says:

    That’s a grand celebration, Ramon.
    Every possibility was open to him, wasn’t it?

    As Russell Jackson wrote in yesterday’s Guardian: “The vision shows Daicos receiving Darren Millane’s handball and making a split-second call to kick a banana as two defenders bear down. The way Daicos recalls it he had time to consider the fact that kicking on the left would narrow the angle and that although it went against the intuition of everyone else, kicking on the right was entirely logical to him in order to open up the goal face. That he presents the impossible banana as the logical solution tells you that he was operating on a different level to everyone else. No-one else would have even attempted that.”

  3. DBalassone says:

    Ramon, I must have missed this piece the first time round, but thanks for this. A beautiful and evocative description of the most miraculous thing that has ever occurred on football field.

    I was sitting with my old man just below the scoreboard pocket, so strangely all this took place in an angle directly in front of our eyes and through the two big sticks that the ball would somehow pass through. We saw it all unwind like a set piece, like a perfectly executed dance manoeuvre – though of course no one could have rehearsed for something like this.

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