AFL Round 22: We are Collingwood

The equation for this game was incredibly simple, even for Collingwood. All we had to do was not lose by more than twenty-two points. A loss by less than this amount would give us a game against the Cats next week (possibly minus Chapman and S. Johnson) and would also mean that we avoided Adelaide’s dangerous side of the draw. Simple. Even Collingwood could surely manage to get this right . . . we didn’t even need to win!

But give the Magpies something with gilt or golden edges and they will somehow manage to fumble their chances. It is in our nature. We would prefer to climb the most difficult face of Everest barefoot and on our own, than to scale a more sensible path to the summit. It has always been this way. We therefore took our seats under the sealed comfort of Etihad’s roof with a strange sense of foreboding.

The first quarter was promising enough. While the Dogs dominated possession the Pies played with clarity of thought and moved the ball effectively through the middle of the ground. Anthony made several good contests against Lake, and Ben Johnson did a good job of quelling Akermanis.

In the second quarter the Dogs gained the ascendancy. Will Minson held his own in the absence of Hudson (whose one hundredth game was celebrated by a banner that he did not run through). The Dogs played like a well-drilled soccer team . . . chipping the ball around half-back until the best means of attack presented itself. They would then rush the ball down the ground to their nimble fleet of strikers: Murphy, Hill and the irrepressible Johnson. At half time we were two goals down. Belinda did the maths . . . if this continued we would loose third spot by two points. Two points, so very Collingwood to have a whole season hinge on just two points.

In the third stanza the Pies played with conviction and rushed to an eleven point lead. We seemed to have numbers all over the ground. But then Leon Davis missed a target inside fifty and the ball was rushed down the other end for a goal. The lead then changed hands when Eagleton kicked a great goal on the run. This was now looking decidedly shaky. By three quarter time the Dogs led by two goals.

The final quarter was an arm wrestle. Dayne Beams hit the post twice. His second shot in the last couple of minutes was from about fifteen metres out. Their lead was just eighteen points, on percentage we were ahead by four points. This was all becoming predictable; it was a script I have read countless times before. Brad Johnson then kicked a goal from fifty out from the tightest of angles. Bulldogs by twenty-four, they were ahead by just two points, two measly points on percentage. Still I looked at the clock as the ball raced down our end and into the fifty with a Collingwood player about to swoop. There was only twenty-six minutes gone, plenty of time left.

Siren.

We had just missed third spot on the ladder by the narrowest of margins — by the thinnest coat of paint on the Etihad goalpost.

As I headed home some words came back to me. After the 2007 Grand Final Tom Harley proudly cried out, “We are Geelong.” This was a magnificent re-affirmation of a football club and a city. There was strength in his voice. He had lifted a line of the club song as a mantra for the future. It was poetry from the podium: “We are Geelong.” We are the club of Hickey and Brownlow, Ablett and Davis, Farmer and the Lord twins. We are renewed and reborn.

Well . . . we are Collingwood, and chatting to my friend Chris I realised just what this meant.

We are Greg Norman collapsing on the Augusta green, we are Mark Philippoussis losing on the Wimbledon grass, we are Herschelle Gibbs dropping Steve Waugh in the World Cup semi, we are the Kookaburras pre-2004, we are Al Gore and his unlucky chads, we are Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday when he does not end up with Audrey Hepburn. We are the club who specialises in the near miss and the opportunity lost. We are the club who stacks the odds against themselves.

We are Collingwood and I am depressed.

David Enticott is a Baptist minister who is trying to keep both realism and history at bay as the Pies head into September.

Comments

  1. Lucas Garth says:

    I think we have handed the Bulldogs a poisoned chalice. Geelong will be waiting for them.

    Happy to have a 7 day break, a game to test ourselves against the best team from 2009 with no excuses, it looks weather-wise as if it will be a wet and windy day at our home ground.

    Win this, and the Pies could subject Geelong and St Kilda to a knockout prelim.

    Then again, we are Collingwood. Floreat Pica.

  2. David Enticott says:

    G’day Lucas, Thanks for these positive thoughts, Now that it’s Thursday I’m ready for another go at the footy this weekend. My grand dad, wife and one son all barrack for the Saints so I am seriously hoping that we’ll win! Regards, Dave.

  3. Lucas Garth says:

    Good news is we subjected the Dogs and Saints to a knockout prelim

    No other good news :P

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