Floreat Pica Society Match Report – 2012 Round 8 CollingWOOD versus Geelong

Round 8 Floreat Pica Society Match Report – CollingWOOD versus Geelong.

wood (noun)
1. the hard, fibrous substance composing most of the stem and branches of a tree or shrub, and lying beneath the bark;
2. eternally promising Collingwood ruckman who features far too prominently in the FPS Danny Roach votes and not often enough in the Horsboroughs and subsequently omitted from this week’s side.

Idioms
3. have the wood on; (Australian Slang to have an advantage over or have information that can be used against).
4. knock on wood/touch wood; (used when knocking or toucing on something wooden to assure continued good luck).
5. out of the woods; (out of a dangerous, perplexing, or difficult situation; secure; safe).
6. “Collllllllll-ing-WOOOOOOOOOOD”; (the long slow loud chant that fills the stands of the MCG on very special occasions).
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Apparently after the happenings of season 2011, Geelong had the wood on Collingwood. I must confess that 2011 is a bit of a blur – I’m not sure whether it really happened or whether it was one of those “Bobby from Dallas” dreams that lasted a year (you know Bobby, in his spare time he was the Man From Atlantis and in this show his brother was Major Nelson. It’s a pity Roger Healy didn’t pass the audition to help give the show a bit of humour – kids, ask your Mum if you have no idea what I’m talking about). Anyway, back to 2011 and the supposed “wood” – I think I remember we won the first game when Pendles kicked the winning goal with a few minutes to go. There’s some hazy blur of us copping a smashing in an inconsequential game late in the home & away season. And I have this recurring nightmare where Clokey and Krak are carving it up in late September and then the devil appears and the world goes dark and is filled with pain (a bit like watching Dallas really).

The lead up to this 2011 grand final “re-match”, as opposed to last year’s 2010 grand final replay replay, was difficult to read. Both sides’ formlines had been very different to their conquering 2011 seasons.

After the Geelong loss to Adelaide and on the back of earlier uncharacteristic losses to the Kangas and Heave-ho Freo, the usual knee-jerk Journos (you can probably remove the word “knee”) had written off the Cats. “They’re gone”, said many of the headline makers and like a bloke who’s just been served up a dish of sautéed snails and brussel sprouts by the fat chef from Healthy Wealthy & Wise, “they’ve lost their hunger”.

As for the Pies, after a slow start to the season including losses to the March and April premiers, the Pies had won four in a row against middle of the road opposition (I’m still not yet convinced about the Bummers – even if they are the May premiers). We’ve been undermanned and unconvincing to date, but there’s a sense that the group was building momentum and, injuries willing, on the road to peaking at the business end of the season.

Friday night blockbuster at the G, and I’m the fortunate recipient of an invitation to the official AFL Dining Room on behalf one of the AFL’s corporate partners and purveyors of the finest of hospitality services, the Intercontinental Hotel Group (hope you like the plug, Manik). The night kicks off with the familiar voice of Craig Willis as MC, a traditional indigenous welcome with the offering of a gum tree branch and a stirring performance on the didgeridoo (made from the finest Mallee wood) by the renowned Ron Murray (he’ll be appearing on stage for Dreamtime at the G tonight).

We take up our primo seats on level 2 directly above the holy ground where Dids held the ball aloft at the end of the victorious 2010 season. We are surrounded by Melbourne royalty with Tuddy, Clokey Snr, Kanga Kennedy, Mad Micky Martyn and Helen, the sophisticated and classy Pies supporting judge from Dancing With The Stars. And in some sort of perverse Karma conspiracy as payback for my many years of my vocal critique of them, Bay N23 is littered with ex-umpires. I’ve no idea of their names, apart from the bloke Hirdy paid out on – McLaren – but I know who they are as their cheating faces are burned into my memory for eternity.

The first quarter starts with a bang, the Pies attack on the footy is fierce, our forward pressure is manic, and Pendles shows his class with the first goal. Whilst the famous forward tackling was back on show, the “press” was letting us down as several of our “5 point plays*” ended up in Geelong forward thrusts against the run of play (*Defn: the 5 point play is where we have a relatively straight forward shot at goal – eg. Beams, Daisy, Sidey, Sinkers, Dawes – we kick a point and the opposition quickly kick over the zone and surge into their F50 for a shot at goal). Heater has a couple of brainfades and undoes his good work with some dreadful turnovers. Pendles again gets in the right place and snaps truly and Goldsack bangs a 60 metre drop punt that did the famous Collingwood Number 6 proud (sit down Patto ya wood-duck, it’s not you!).

A minor miracle also occurred in this first stanza – Jolly won a free kick in a ruck contest and in the background sky, I’m sure I caught a glimpse of Hayley’s Comet and a flying swine. I also noted that Cloke had also received a free kick in a marking contest, but surely I was just delirious. At quarter time, the Pies lead by 8 points, but by my reckoning we should have been four goals up.

This game looked like it was going to be like a classic boxing world title fight. It was like the old ageing champion versus the injured champion and neither was gunna back down. The first quarter showed glimpses of dancing around the ring, some spring in the step and a few clean point scoring punches landed. And in the second quarter the slugfest began.

It was goal for goal for most of the 2nd quarter – after a good transition from full back the ball gets into the hands of Dids whose silky pass finds Faz who marks and goals from directly in front. Up the other end, Harry gets outpointed again in a marking contest and the Cats get one back. A Jolly to Swan 70 metre clearance direct to the goalsquare sees Travis pass his Man City audition with a great soccer goal. The pressure is taking its toll as both sides make uncharacteristic mistakes with miskicks, fumbles and turnovers – there were more clangers than a percussionist convention. Harry is beaten again and the Cats goal again. Beams and Sidey are getting plenty of the footy in the midfield and Reid doing a great job down back. A great show of strength and will-power from Swannie for a team lifting goal, Wellers tries to replicate it but hits the woodwork after he’d done all the hard work, and then a desperate Heater tackle leads to another classy finish for goal by Pendles who glided around the boundary with a couple of bounces and slotted it for the goal of the night.

Half time and 9 points up, we should be well ahead on points but gotta be very careful of the potential Geelong TKO.

Geelong kick the first goal through the old firm of “Whiplash” Chapman via a classy pass from Johnson (I cannot bring myself to use his more common nickname). Then the Pies hit the switch for a few moments of pure excitement with goals to Goldy, Faz and a rover’s classic from Blairy. We’re 3 goals up and looking the much better side, but just like earlier games against the Dons and Dogs we just can’t lay that killer blow and waste some chances.

The second half of the 3rd quarter goes back to a slugfest. Swanny hits the woodwork again which could have been the killer blow. Reidy makes some great spoils down back in crucial one on one contests to hold out the Catters’ thrusts. During this quarter we experienced the farce of the new video referral system where a Tomahawk kick sailed over the point post. The goal and boundary umps were both in perfect position, but they decided to waste 2 minutes of our lives looking at inconclusive replays and coming up with the decision of a point.

3/4 time and it’s the Pies by 17 points, with Didak subbed off late in the 3rd quarter and Buckley on. And then the sight of Pendles iced up with a corkie and doing a fitness test puts a scare into the camp.

We start the last quarter with some great team play from Tooves to Harry to Sidey (who is everywhere) to Goldy (who’s doing a great defensive and third tall role up forward) to Dawes for a strong mark and long gun barrel straight goal from 50 – welcome back big Beast. A good reward for Dawes who’s been as flexible and agile as a wooden dawe (I mean door) and down on form this season, but he had worked hard tonight in the ruck and with his defensive efforts. We are all over them like a cheap Delmonti suit in the first 5 minutes, but a Cloke shot that fell a metre short and then a brainfade OOF when he had two free options or should have taken an extra step or two from 30 metres out, should have provided the killer blow but left the door open.

News through the radio is that Swanny’s done a hammy and Reid is off with a quad, so we are down to 1 interchange on the pine. A Geelong rebound and free kick not paid to Harry, sees the Cats get a goal against the tide and then another to be within 2 goals as things all of a sudden turn their way. A couple of stupid 50 metre penalties and they start to lock the ball inside their 50 and the goals and points start to mount up against us. We counter punch with a brilliant Pendles pass to Cloke for a mark and goal to make it 3 goals up, but the Cats keep coming.

For the best part of 15 minutes our backline is under siege, the ageing champion has gotten a sniff, and they are throwing everything they can at us. We can’t win a clearance and all the play is in their half of the ground. With our injuries we seem to be running out of legs and just holding on by the skin of our teeth. Heroic and brave acts are aplenty in the last line of defence with the likes of Maxy, Tooves, Gympie Keith, Heater, Wellers, Buckley, Jolly, Dawes and more all doing important one percenters in the heat of the cauldron. The real and inferred pressure sees the Cats scoring points instead of goals and whilst we are on the ropes, I hold hope that we can hold on for a points win.

It’s down to the last 2 minutes with the Pies up by 6 points and another gutsy contest in our defensive goal square sees the ball spill free for a Cats goal to level the scores. I remember back to a similar situation on Anzac Day when Maxy pleaded with Swanny to get the next clearance and he lifted us to victory. With Swanny iced up on the pine, I wondered who could step up. With all the momentum against us and with our tired legs from less rotations, I was hopeful but not confident, I thought that we might be rooted. Apart from the last minute of the Anzac Day game, I’ve not seen much of the Pies hunger of 2010/11 in season 2012. I said to my Pies colleague that we needed a rare last quarter centre clearance or to take a risky transition to try to win this game.

Pendles ground his way into the pack to wrestle the clearance but the weight of Geelong numbers sees the ball head the wrong way again but Pendle’s tackle sees the kick to Marty Clarke’s advantage. He spots up Buckley on the wing, who then finds Pony Sinclair in space who sets up an ambitious but centimetre perfect pass to Fasolo about 70 metres from goal.

The split second when Faz marked seemed like an eternity. I saw open space up forward, Pendles streaming past and other options willing themselves forward trying to muster up one last effort. My spirits were lifted, the hope was back and I was just hoping that he would choose the right option. But just as that split second ended, the option he would take was all but made for him when his opponent made the blunder of his life and gave away a 50 metre penalty. I propelled myself up from the edge of my seat and punched the air with the gusto of a prized ring-fighter. The confident kid had two goals already and he strode in coolly and drilled it perfectly through the middle for a counterpunch goal that was surely the winner. But there was still a minute to go on the clock where anything still could have happened.

The centre bounce was won down to that man Pendles, over to Sidey onto little Blairy, who’d had a great second half, and his searching handball found the man of the moment streaming into space. As the ball found its way into Pendles’ hands I knew we were home. Pendles is a star, he is all class and his finishing is pure silk. As he cruised out of the centre square it was like it was in slow motion. All we need is a score and a famous victory is ours. He sums it up in his usual cool and calm demeanour, sees the open goalsquare, with the option of Dawes one out deep forward. Despite the corked calf, he unleashes with a long raking drop punt that clears the contest and bounces truly for a brilliant goal. Again, I jumped out of my chair, and like Big Sav in the 90s rising high above the shoulders of Micky Martyn who’s sitting in front of me. I join the other 50,000 Pies fans in the pogo, high fives and the haunting Collllllll-ing-WOOOOOD chant! We did it, we laid the killer blow and it was officially a TKO!

The Pies were never headed the whole night and that win was one of the bravest, most courageous and gutsy wins I’ve seen by the mighty Pies. Like Homer Simpson at the Frying Dutchman’s All You Can Eat restaurant, the hunger was back!!

There were many questions posed before the game, some were answered and some were not….
• any “wood” that people thought Geelong had on the Pies after 2011 were chainsawed to oblivion last night. They may have the wood over the Hawks, but not on Collingwood’s patch. Magnificent strength of character by the Pies to hold strong when others may have buckled against the almighty Cat legend.
• despite their gallant effort, which was much improved from their Adelaide loss, the Cats are sitting on 4 and 4 (Win/Loss). A top four spot looks challenging for the Cats and they’ll need to lift their game to get out of the woods this season.
• the Pies hunger was back, there were brief surges of exciting power footy, but the skill execution was down, we’re still not taking opportunities and we need some long overdue luck on injuries to key players. Touch wood, the current injuries heal quickly and no new ones emerge, and we build up to a strong second half of the season.
• The Colllllllll-ing-WOOOOOOOOD chant was back and filled the MCG with passion. Let’s hope we hear it with regularity for the remainder of the 2012 season and especially on the last Saturday in September.

The votes

Two of the vote getters were pretty easy and obvious, but the rest of the group had their ups and downs. It was a difficult night to vote with many good deeds undone by clangers or mistakes. Heater worked hard, made some great intercepts and got plenty of it as usual but made some shocking mistakes. The Tall Timber forwards at both ends didn’t have great games and probably beaten by their opponents, however, I thought Dawes and Cloke were more effective that Pods and Tomahawk, and Reid and Gympie Keith stood tall down back. Beamsy, Wellers, Swan and Blair all had good moments. Thomas was quiet after four weeks off and really needs to step up to help cover the loss of Swanny in the next few weeks. The grunt of Tooves, Maxy and Marty fought hard down back and Goldy kicked some good goals and did a good job up forward.

3 – Pendles – sometimes 30 possessions from Pendles can be “so-so” and not have huge impact. But last night he was HUGE. 4 goals, huge last quarter under duress. Showed polish and class, and like an anti-dandruff shampoo, was head and shoulders above anyone else on the ground.
2- Sidey – has hit A grade status. Great link man, was everywhere as an option and used the ball well.
1- Pendles – deserves a bonus point for his game. If I can’t break the rules and give Pendles the bonus 1 vote, I’ll give it to Ben Reid. Had to deal with the demons from the last quarter of 2011 and was magnificent in the second and third quarters.

CARNA WOOOOOODS!!!!!!

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. Ramon – it wasn’t so much that Collingwood won the game, it was more that Pendlebury won the game. His ability to use the ball is probably better than anyone in the competition.

  2. Nic Pav says:

    Nice piece Ramon…apparently I was at a different game on Friday night!

  3. Phantom says:

    I was watching the game on free to air in the privacy of my own home.

  4. Phantom says:

    Further, I like to watch the Eddies during a Cats / Pies game.

    When number 10, I think it was number 10, kicked the last goal Eddie was different to the last game. I cackled as I watched him jump up from his seat grab a bag and one of his son’s arms and drag him off screen obviously towards the rooms for the return of the heroes.

    The poor kid, not sure if it was Joseph or Alexander, was being towed along behind with a facial expression that appeared half delight, from the result, and half distraught as his arm was being wrenched from it’s socket.

    No doubt he was well looked after in the medical room after the game. It looked like it was a season ending injury. Much worse than the JPod in that grand final.

  5. haiku bob says:

    brilliant stuff ramon.

  6. Phantom says:

    ‘If you go into the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise…………………………’

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