Floreat Pica Report- Premiership Edition

PART ONE – Game 1: “Weird” is definitely the word from last week – thanks Steve, perfectly worded yet again.  For me it was doubly so – as I’ll explain!

For any of you who subscribed to the Hot Pies Fanzine from 1999 – 2004, you may recall a “page filler” on page 26 of Edition 16 (coincidentally on the opposite page to a “Poets Corner” feature from the early works of one, Haiku Bob).  It started off with “They say love is blind, I’ve been smitten with the Pies for years, but when I fell in love again (with a woman this time), I realised I’d married a beautiful, tall, leggy, brunette St Kilda supporter!!!!”  Oh, that’s right, love is blind.”

Yes folks, that was and is me – a mad Pies fan married to a Saints fan.  Normally, this has not caused major problems, as the footy has normally been my place to go with my Pies mates and trips to the footy with opposition supporters are usually as rare as Haley’s Comet sightings.  But, for the big game and preparation last week it was WEIRD.  I was the lucky recipient of two corporate tickets for my partner and I.   With the Saints versus the Pies, and with the old adage of “happy wife, happy life“,  I had no option but to share the biggest day and an adjacent seat with an opposition supporter.  WEIRD!

The preparations started well enough, on Friday it was a great pleasure to join some of the FPS clan at Flinders Street for long overdue “faces to names”, a photo shoot (on the cutting room floor again!), a yarn with the journo and to cheer the Pies as they paraded past.

Mrs Sainter checked in via phone and was strategically on the other side of the bridge making it impossible for us to cross paths.  After the Pies paraded past Flinders Street, I wandered up to the Imperial for a few beers and a pre-match discussion with my equally mad Pies brother.  On the way, I ensured that I walked through the Bourke Street Mall as I was very much in touch with my 1990 omens and clearly remembered the last time I was at a successful GF parade was in the Bourke Street Mall – every little bit helps.

Saturday morning saw us attend the North Melbourne breakfast and the nerves were taking their toll.  I was relieved to see a few cold beers in the middle of the table and after great encouragement from our corporate host, I decided to partake in two quiet stubbies to help calm the nerves (and dull the pain of the sore throat from the flu).  It was hard to concentrate on the entertainment and I just wanted it to be 2:30pm.

Our Premiership Cup(?) arrives at the North Melbourne Breakfast.

Arrived at the ground about 1pm and met up with Pete, one of my long time Pies mates – we’ve been going to the footy since we were in Year 12 and probably shared over 500 games together – the other member of our trio, Bluey, was at home watching on TV – it was just plain WEIRD that we weren’t all there together as we were in 90, 02 and 03 (and every other game over the past 30 years).  But, as Meatloaf sang, “two out of three aint bad”, so we had a few calming beers together then more good omens, we spotted some 1990 premiership heroes Banksy, Ned and Kerro, and then Peter McKenna came running past running late for his official duty on the ground.  I’d spent so much nervous energy before the game, I was wondering how our young Pies heroes were coping, hopefully better than me!

Right: Peter McKenna on a fast lead to get onto the G for his official duties – he’s still got that blistering pace that was a blur for fullbacks as well as amateur photographers!


I sadly bid farewell to my buddy and took my seat next to Mrs Sainter.  I sang the national anthem with gusto and I marvelled at the massive pro-Collingwood crowd and the noise we made.

Mrs Sainter and I

I gave Mrs Sainter a kiss (she asked if I would do that after the game, to which I had no answer) and it was game on.  And what a start,,, Swanny clearance to Pendles, to Dids, to Jolly and GOAL!!  I was pleased with the start of our first quarter but then unlike our previous two finals it only lasted half the quarter and sadly the Sainters pegged us back.  Second quarter and Clokey marks and converts (he must have heard me quote “cometh the hour, cometh the man” I thought as I had fingers crossed and hands in a prayer motion as he lined up).  We dominate possession, but, don’t convert and Clokey’s late misses have me biting my tongue for my earlier comments.
Half time I have to go visit my Pies mate and the extended crew, so I high tail it around a few bays and start to dissect the game and predict the second half.  There’s a mixed feeling.  I reckoned we’d taken one of their best shots and just need to absorb one more shot and respond and we’ll win.  My bro’s text eerily says he hopes Clokey’s misses don’t come back to bite us.

I head back to my seat and suffer through another wasteful quarter and a Saints fightback.  I cringe at Daisy and Blair’s misses and know that we are running out of chances.  I can’t remember much of 3/4 time or the last quarter but when Neon Leon weaved his way through traffic and snapped truly, I jumped out of my chair and jumped up and down like never before.  A little Pies kid on the opposite seat was doing the same and after our high five attempt was less than successful, I gave him a big bear hug as we pogo’d with excitement and anticipation.  Surely, this was the spark we needed to get the momentum.

My recollection is still hazy (cannot bring myself to watching the replay unless we salute next Saturday), but I remember a couple of fast rebounds that we clangered which could have given us another chance to extend the lead.  Then it all started to go horribly wrong.  Milne hands in the back – where’s that rule gone Jeff!!  Hayes’ kicking from outside 50 (and reckon he might have been given a metre of grace on the mark and where was our tall guy on the line?) and then Goddard’s speccy.   I had visions of that mark going to scar me for the rest of my life alongside Jezza’s mark, Harmes’ out of bounce, Fab Phil’s hit on Tuck, Rocca “point” in 2002 to name a few.  Why, why, why?!?!?

But somehow, this 2010 version was not going to lie down.  Captain Maxy outstanding all day takes a great mark and with the resultant play seeing Heater nearly pull in a goalsquare mark the ball comes out to Clokey and he slams it through.  Again I jump out of my seat with a leap that Tim Forsythe would be proud of and my little Pies buddy and I again lock arms and jump around with excitement – surely we can raise the strength to hold on or deliver one final blow?

The last few minutes are still a blur, all I remember is somehow the Saints get a point and then the ball being at the wrong end of the ground for the longest minute or two of my life – I just remember the sight of desperate black and white jumpers doing everything possible to stop the ball moving any closer to the Saints goal.  Finally somehow the ball finds its way near me on the members wing and the siren sounds.
I stand in silence, exhausted and don’t know what to do.  My immediate response is instinctive and I look down at our players to see how they respond and keen for them to get up and show some immediate positive body language.  I wait til the players leave the ground and finally speak to Mrs Sainter.  We both sort of laugh and all our corporate guests, aware of the internal marital war, enquire on our state.  Several reflect on my enthusiastic reaction to our last quarter goals and I internally shake my head and disown a couple of the corporate theatre goers for their lack of understanding of what it means to be a true Collingwood supporter.  It’s a weird walk over to the Hilton for a quick drink then back to the hotel and join some of the other guests for a night of beers, reflections and predictions.

Calls from Pies daughters back at home asking us to get them flights and tickets for next week added to the confusion – could we, would we, should we????  It’s all too hard.  So I’m in another weird place for this week.  Back home on the Sunny Coast for a Pies Grand Final and don’t know where to watch it.  It’ll be the first Grannie since the 77 Replay that I won’t be there in person.

But, despite all this I’m quietly upbeat for this week’s game.  As most of us Pies fans have omens and superstitions, I too have bizarre thoughts that somehow the butterfly that flutters past me when I’m thinking Collingwood may somehow influence activities down at the MCG.  So here I go with a few……

  1. Just as I expended too much nervous energy during the week and in the morning of the game, I reckon our Pies players probably did the same.  My pessimist bro texted me pre-game saying that Lethal had proclaimed on Ch7 “we were too hyped up and need to calm down”.  I’m relatively calm so far this week and reckon our boys will be the same.
  1. I remember the draw in 1990 QF and having a feeling of the “monkey off the back”, as it had been so long since we had played in a winning final.  I thought back then that we had experienced a final without losing and would come back the next week with less pressure and more freedom to take on the game, and we did and blew away the next three games.  I think we’ll play with more freedom this week and more composure.
  1. In our early season losses to StK and Geel we made a number of “perceived pressure” mistakes with “panic” disposals when we had more time.  In our return games, we had much more composure.  On Saturday we made some uncharacteristic bad decisions, panic kicks and clangers due to perceived pressure.  I reckon we have learnt really well from our mistakes this year and expect many of these will be ironed out this week.
  1. Our big guns didn’t fire, I believe in their ability to play big games next week and the team plan to put a stop to the Saints matchwinners, many of whom, played to their maximum potential.
  1. Despite Collingwood’s chequered history, the Saints is worse and they’ve now “not won” 2 grand finals in a row despite being in winning positions both times – reckon that might weigh heavier on them than the draw will on us.
  1. We are Collingwood and they are not!!!

May the force be with us, go Pies and Floreat Pica.

END OF PART ONE
PART ONE – Game 2: Twenty Four hours after the final siren of the most epic of games, the drawn 2010 Grand Final, I packed my bags, wrapped my trusty adopted* Pies scarf around my neck, jumped in a cab and headed for Tullamarine  airport for the long trip home.

Scarf at Malthouse Theatre

*yes, “adopted” Pies scarf.   Let me digress, ala Ronnie Corbett style:  As soon as the final siren sounded for the inglorious 2003 grand final I got up, said seeya to the boys and trudged off to Richmond station for the long painful train ride home.  As I made my way to the end of the platform I saw a new Magpies scarf lying on the ground next to a rubbish bin.  I stopped, looked around.  It was alone, abandoned.  I leant down, picked it up, draped it around my slumped shoulders and told him he was coming to a better home.  To steal a line from the RSPCA, a Pies scarf is for life, not just for Grand Final day. Right: “The Scarf” at a place of inspiration.

As I strode out of cab into the turmoil of the Virgin terminal on that Sunday night proudly sporting the black and white colours, I was still in a state of suspended animation.  After finding out my flight was cancelled it was back into town and up at 4am for my Monday morning flight.  My regular cabbie (a Tiges man) surprised me with his confession that he was barracking for the Pies on Saturday and hoped we smashed the Saints next week – mainly as a result of his disdain for two infamous Saints players.

Fast forward to Saturday October 2nd, 2010 and I was still in a “weird” place.  It was my first GF since the 1977 replay that I had not attended in person.  I didn’t know whether I was going to find a pub, go round to a new found Sunny Coast pies buddy’s place or watch it at home with the family  (Mrs Sainter and the beautiful two Pies daughters) and some friends (another Tiges man, his Lions wife a Swan son and his NRL mate).

The morning started nicely.  Up early and decked out in my 1990 Premiers polo shirt, I was out to drop daughter #2 at work and off to my favourite coffee shop in Cotton Tree – Envy.  As is my way, at Pies Grand Final time I seek out any omen.  So, as I sat and read the game preview I remember back to the massive Pies banners that draped the fences in the 70s before the days of the current advertising boards and one in particular “Collingwood – the ENVY of the nation”.   First game preview of the day was read and first coffee down, so it was off to calm the quelling nerves, so I took my favourite drive home, via Alex Headland and Mooloolaba.  I drove past a little hairdresser in Sixth Avenue which had black and white balloons and streamers everywhere and huge sign saying “Go Pies”.  YES!  Then a drive into Buderim village to The Chopping Block, my other favourite coffee shop, and I saw a bloke sitting in a Pies T-Shirt intently reading the paper and looking as nervous as I was feeling.  We had a quick friendly but nervous chat and were on our way.  Walking back to the car I spot a teenager with a Pies jumper on and give a quiet knowing smile.  YES!   So, as I head back home for the game I’m hoping that there will be Pies Envy at the end of the day and that we put the Saints to the Chopping Block and not the other way around.

Our guests arrive on time at 2pm on the dot and pleasantly surprised when my Tiges man declares he’s barracking for the Pies as he can’t stand Milne and Reiwoldt.   Party Pies hit the table, drinks are in the beer fridge and eight of us sit down for the start of the big game.   I get a text and photo from best (Pies) mate Bluey who was in the ground and says he’s talked his way into a corporate area with free bar and best seats in the house.  Another great omen- way back in 1990 it was Bluey who led the charge to entice a “red coat” to turn a blind eye to our crew whilst we climbed a fence to get into perfect viewing area in the VFL Park Members standing area in the old Olympic Stand.  As an old Oakleigh Tech’r who’s now running a successful commercial plumbing business, we always said he had “Charisma with a capital K’.

I wished I was there – I felt like I was there, just not physically!  The soothing and familiar sound of Julie Anthony belts out our great national anthem, the roar bursts out of the TV and I settle on the edge of my ottoman and prepare for the game of my life.

We bounce out of the blocks again like last week and as Pendles hits Clokey up in the goalsquare with a classy right foot tracer bullet, I’m ecstatic.   Ecstasy turns to despair as again the umpires conspire to break our grand final hearts and spirits with a pedantic off the ball free kick reversal.   Not again I think – but I refuse to let the conspiracy theories take hold and I keep the faith as this 2010 version of The Club appears to have the hallmarks of a new culture.

It’s not long til Dawes and Clokey combine to spot up Nuttsy on the tip of the goalsquare.  The magical number 6 Collingwood jumper kicks a dead straight drop punt for our first goal that would have made the ‘Premiership Cup Presenter in waiting’ as proud as punch.  We dominate the first part of the quarter again just like last week and I’m hopeful that this time we take advantage and put the score on the board.

But it was looking eerily similar to last week as the Saints surge forward with one of their first breaks in play and Reiwoldt marks running into an open goal for a soda.  But, then IT happened!!  One of the greatest (if not the greatest) moments in my football barracking life, Heath Shaw, through sheer pace, will-power and never-say-die attitude conjures up the most magnificent spoil in the history of Collingwood to force a point from a certain goal. THAT WAS IT!  That was the moment that made the greatest statement to his teammates, us supporters, the opposition and the football world. I said to myself, ala Steve Waugh, “you’ve just dropped the premiership cup”.

We pump the ball forward and ‘Lamppost’ Macaffer gets on the end of a Pendles and Daisy-chain of contested possessions to snap over his head from the goalsquare.    Quarter time and zero goals to the Saints and the self belief from Heater’s run-down has me daring to dream.  I give myself a mental break after 30 minutes of barracking and commentating intensity, stretch the legs, get some provisions for the second quarter, finally take a breath and speak with optimistic confidence to my Pies (Tiges) buddy.

The second quarter sees Dids get into the game with an opportunist goal but then the Saints start getting more of the ball and inside 50s but with some wayward shots at goal (oh, the irony), and continued Pies pressure we soak up one of their best shots.  Then Jolly comes alive, a nice favourable bounce sees him outpoint McEvoy and find Lamppost in the goalsquare for a goal and then within a minute he drives forward, takes a “slips-catch” mark and kicks a crunch goal, straight through the middle, to wrest the momentum well and truly back to the mighty Pies.  What an inspired recruit was Jolly, in such an even team of skill and goers, to me he is clearly the most important and irreplaceable player on our list.

Just like I thought last week, we’d taken one of their best shots and had responded with strength and conviction and hoping we go into the long break with the momentum.  One of my Pies pet-hates is late goals against us and my worst fears are awoken again as it looks like it might happen to us with Schneider’s shot on the siren.  Thankfully, another point for the Sainters and we take a handy lead into half time.  This time, I’m (almost) convinced that we’ll learn from last week and go on with the job in the second half.  Half time is a blur, I’m not sure what I did apart from visit the bar fridge, pump out a couple of texts and keep the steely supporter resolve from getting the better of me.

The third quarter – the premiership quarter they call it – is upon us and I demand that we show our true colours and break them.  An early miss by Schneider (again, the demons must be circling in his head from those two, on top of his 2009 horrors) and we again race the ball up our end and Dawes snaps a spectacular goal (one for the ages and grand final marathon highlights reels forever) – what strength and ground skills this big lad has got.  Wellers and Swanny are running all over them with two great roving goals and its 46 points – surely we are home?  An unlikely Saints goal back to 40, then quick as a flash, Dids adds to Heater and Dawesy on the highlight reel with one of the greatest goals in grand final history after a determined smother and right foot snap, from deep in the forward pocket that cruelled us in 1979 and 1966, that sails right through the hi diddle diddle!

Deep inside, I now believe we are home and get my first congrats text from last week’s corporate host, but not willing to show it yet for the fear of the footy gods punishing me for going too early.  The Saints get two late goals and our one which was great reward for the amazingly composed and huge game player, 19 year old Steele Sidebottom – what a little beauty we’ve got there.

Forty one points at three quarter time and I pace around the outside deck and visit the bar fridge in readiness for the final stanza to start.  Quick as a flash, Dawes marks deep in the Daicos 1990 forward pocket and on the impossible angle.  As he prepares for the shot I realise I’ve relaxed a bit as I started to hear the comments from the peanut gallery – “who’s he, he looks like a typical Collingwood meat-head”.  I bite my tongue for a moment, in the knowledge that he’s a fair chance from there.  As he kicks a “McKenna’esque” goal, I stand arms aloft, bellow out a GO PIES, punch the air and then calmly respond with “he’s Chris Dawes, he went to Brighton Grammar, he’s a Lawyer (well not yet but what’d they know) and he’ll be a premiership player soon”.

The lounge room non Pies noise starts to increase, so the daughters ask for the volume to be turned up.  I set it to 35, not loud enough; 42, not loud enough; 58, not loud enough; 90 that’s loud enough (four of my favourite numbers)!

The rest of the quarter is just cream on the top of the cake.  Daisy gets a goal for all his hard work over the past 8 quarters (what a star – I still remember his first possession in a Wizard Cup game at Docklands and said to the pies daughters, he’s going to be a star!!), Harry kicks truly and invokes a truly spiritual response from himself and the crowd that is befitting of his unique standing in the our Collingwood hearts, the game of football and the world stage – as well as the joy of seeing the gorgeous Fuzzy going crazy in the stand.

Some little interchange player wearing 44 for the Saints finally gets onto the ground (where’s he been all day?) and kicks two nothing goals and then Wellers and Sidey just rub it in and kick us to our greatest winning Grand Final margin in our proud history.

I’ve never liked the countdown clock on TV but as it ticks down under a minute to go I stand up and lap up every second of our “keepings off” short passing.  Swanny (massive cheer), Bally (massive cheer), Dids (massive cheer).  Siren – MASSIVE CHEER, THAT BEAUTIFUL SONG, VISIONS OF ECSTASY ALL OVER MY TV!!!!

I get a text and photo from Bluey, and there he is, at The G, arm in arm with Premier John Brumby – I told you had Charisma with a Capital K!

Premier Brumby and my best mate and Pies fanatic, Bluey!

I watch in awe of the celebrations and it feels like I am there.  I don’t even try to guess the Norm Smith medallist, I was focussed on laying every tackle, spotting every target, taking every mark, kicking every goal and marshalling the troops into the Magpie swarm, all from my seat in front of the TV, so I didn’t know who would get the nod.  When asked I offered up Heater, Pendles, Sidey or Daisy and am absolutely rapt our young gun Pendles gets the nod.  I’d reckon the other three may have had claims for a four-way tie for best player of the Grand Finals.  I soak up the moment of every player presented and watch with pride that they all treat the dias with the utmost respect.   I love Captain Maxy’s speech (come to think of it, add him to a five way tie) and MM’s speech and “I love my boys”.

And then the ultimate moment that bought a tear to an old Pie terrace warrior’s eye, just like King Eddie, my boyhood idol the great Peter McKenna presents the 2010 Premiership Cup to the almighty Collingwood Football Club.

The great Peter McKenna presents the Cup!!

The lap of honour starts, I get the call from Bluey and soak up the massive Collingwood noise, that beautiful theme song in the background, the uniquely electric Pies atmosphere and then the exchange of the obligatory “I luvs yuz all”.  The texts come in thick and fast, some I’ve still got no idea who they were from!  I responded in sorts as I just soaked up every glorious minute of it.  I realised that I had not moved from my spot in the 30-40 minutes after match activity.  It was then I think the reality set in and the celebrations started, I gave big winning hugs to my Pies daughters and so happy that we could share a flag after they had the disappointment of 2002 and 2003 at those young impressionable ages.

I then made the call to Dad, the man who made me the mad Pies fan that I am.  He had the fortune of seeing 1958 early in his barracking career and then suffered through the heartache for 20 years until it all became too much at the end of 1978 and he “retired” from going each week, but never lost the passion. In 1990, in the days before mobile phones, I rang him as soon as I got home from the game and celebrations – at 4AM!!!! After I opened up with “How good was that, and, I thought I’d ring you earlier this time”, we struggled to talk as the emotion got the better of us both.  After a couple of minutes of incomprehensible attempts at the Queen’s English I decided it was probably best that I give him a call in a couple of days.  Later calls to Mum and Bro were far more productive as we relived all the classic moments of a great day.  It’s not only great to be part of the Collingwood family, but even better when it comes with being a Collingwood family.

I finally got the order from Mrs Sainter that I was required to cook on the BBQ.  I grabbed a bottle of Red, put my mobile phone’s music player onto full volume and repeat of the beautiful Collingwood theme song and cooked up a storm with a smile from ear to ear.

The kids drifted out early in the night with daughter # 1 asking if she can borrow “my scarf” which I was proud to bestow upon her for the night.  I snuck in a few glimpses of the Foxtel replay and after our guests left about 10pm I did another quick scan of my internet Pies lifelines – Extreme Black & White and Nicks – which provided further joy as I lapped up every word proclaiming our great victory.  I hit the sack at 1030 and had the game, our theme song and my vivid Pies flashbacks running through my head faster than the Pies midfield.  I remember the clock ticking over to 3am and I was still not asleep, but it was the best “worst night’s sleep” I’ve ever had.

Sunday morning after the Pies were proclaimed 2010 Premiers and it was a beautiful day indeed.  Up at 7am, on with the Pies jumper and 2003 members cap and off to the weekly Farmers Market.  It was fantastic!  The Sunny Coast is not known as an AFL stronghold, but there were a few gems that shone through on this fine Sunday morning, as about half a dozen stall holders and a few fellow shoppers all ripping out a “Go Pies” when they saw the Black and White jumper.  Back up to The Chopping Block for a well needed caffeine hit and a table of Pies fans let out a “Go Pies” and we exchange pleasantries.

Then it was time to eat, so joined by Pies daughter number 2 (with her Pies scarf) and (very gracious in defeat – much better than I would’ve been) Mrs Sainter for brunch down at Mooloolaba Esplanade (including a celebratory beer at 1145, much to Mrs Sainter’s chagrin – which was technically 1245 Melbourne time) and sharing the joy with a handful of Pies scarf wearing devotees who were also out and proud.

Then it was time to pick up the Sunday Age and Herald Sun that had finally made their way up north and the opportunity to read every word and statistic and gaze longingly at each and every photograph.

What a glorious season it’s been and what a glorious six months we have ahead.

Floreat Pica.

Collingwood celebration, Mooloolaba Style – Daughter # 2 and proud Dad.

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.

Comments

  1. Dave Nadel says:

    Beautiful Pies oriented summary of the Grand Finals week, including a view from the North. You also showed how to get the most out of the Premiership experience if you can’t be at the Ground. Loved it!!

  2. Dave Latham says:

    A really terrific read. I think I’m going to hitch my wagon to Bluey.

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