The Saturday night July/August Sydney v Collingwood game at the Sydney Olympic Stadium is quietly growing a tradition as one of the marquee home and away matches of any given AFL season. The Pies have a great record in these games and against Sydney in general over the past few years, but that record has been clouded by the 2012 Preliminary Final loss at this venue and the flogging we were handed by the Swans at the MCG earlier in the season. Despite our comprehensive win over Essendon last week, I’m not overly confident. The night before, as I am submitting my tips to the 3 tipping comps I’m in, I briefly consider tipping Sydney. I think they will win the flag. After that 10 seconds of madness subsides, I do what I always do. Pick Collingwood.
As 7.30PM comes around I am joined on the couch by my 5 year old son Gavin. He will regularly watch 10-15 minutes of a Collingwood game on TV with me before losing interest. He is much more interested in Spider-Man, Optimus Prime and riding his bike. Not so his 3 year old brother Joshua, who bleeds black & white and would eat a cricket ball if I asked him to. But Joshua has gone to bed early, quickly followed by Mrs R and our baby Emily.
The Swans kick the first four goals and I’m mentally preparing myself for a flogging. Gavin is quiet, but watching the TV intently. I am trying not to swear and am succeeding but don’t know if that will continue. Kurt Tippett has two of them, both from frees against Brown. Tippett has obviously spent the bulk of his 11 week suspension in the gym, he is massive and looks like Kal-El. Or does the Sydney guernsey make you look bigger than the Crows one does? Cloke and Elliot goal and at least we are back in the game. 10 points down at quarter time.
Sidebottom goals to start the second term and when shortly after Brody Grundy kicks his first AFL goal the Pies are within 2 points. Gavin has watched the entire game to this point, a record TV watching performance of a Collingwood game by him. I’m expecting him to fall asleep anytime soon. The great man Pendlebury snaps a goal and we are in front. I get a high five from my oldest child, even though he is more a Swanny man. Harry O’Brien goals and looks to the heavens in celebration. The pies number 8 is playing a great game and hopefully slaying his demons. Tippett takes a pack mark just before the siren and goals. Nathan Brown, outsized, clearly needs some Kryptonite. Half time and the Pies are 3 points up.
The third term starts and Tippett outmarks Brown. Kicks his fourth and the Swans are back in front. Two minutes later Brown has become Lex Luthor and has given The Man of Tomorrow another free and his fifth goal. Reid and Josh Thomas goal for the the black and white. Quickly followed by another Elliot goal. We are 11 points up. Rhys Shaw goals for Sydney. I quite liked Rhys as a Collingwood player until Grumpy Mick got rid of him. Still do, but his goal was met with muted enthusiasm in our home. Thomas kicks another goal. Cloke and Tippett goal followed by a late Ben Reid goal that sees the Magpies 18 points up at the last break. Gavin is still awake, and has watched every moment. Maybe his interest has been spiked by me taking him to his first live AFL game a fortnight ago, against the Giants at the MCG. He had a great evening and actively watched at least half of the game.
Early final quarter goals to Sidebottom and Elliot give the Pies a handy break. Gavin is still awake and impressed when I tell him Steele Sidebottom has a brother who plays cricket for the Victoria Bushrangers. Cloke misses two easy shots that could have made the result more definitive. Kennedy kicks a late goal for the home team as the Magpies run out 29 point winners. A great win that gives the Black and White army some sort of hope coming into September, as far away as a top four finish still seems.
Our midfield, only minus Daisy, is back to its best. Beams adds so much to this team. Young talls Keefe and Grundy have been superb, respectively allowing Reid to play up forward and covering for Jolly. Us Pies fans must be patient with Grundy and Witts, for all their excitement ruckmen take time to mature. Believe in the Buckley way. There’s good times ahead.
Gavin got through the whole game. Couldn’t be prouder. Went to bed as soon as the song was sung by the players. Like our young ruckmen, he is a work in progress. But rapt with the developments made on this Saturday night. He’s keen to get to the MCG again. I’m up alone now and it’s Test cricket for the rest of the night. Only wish I could be as optimistic about the youth in the Australian Test team as I am about the Collingwood youngsters.
SYDNEY 4.4 5.9 9.10 10.11 71 lost to
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 6.6 12.10 14.16 100
SYDNEY: Tippett 6, Bolton, Shaw, Kennedy, K.Jack
COLLINGWOOD: Elliot 3, Reid 2, Sidebottom 2, J.Thomas 2, Cloke 2, Grundy, O’Brien, Pendlebury
SYDNEY: Tippett, McVeigh, O’Keefe, Bolton, K.Jack
COLLINGWOOD: Pendlebury, Beams, Swan, Elliot, J.Thomas, Sidebottom, Ball, O’Brien
UMPIRES: Stevic, Dalgleish, Nicholls
3. Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
2. Dayne Beams (Coll)
1. Kurt Tippett (Syd)