Grand Final: Collingwood vs St Kilda – The greatest game I’ve ever seen

I’m normally pumped for Grand Final day; absolutely pumped and excited for the game, but today a different feeling has taken over. This feeling has been with me since Friday night’s preliminary final and has not gone away. It’s fear. Fear that Collingwood will actually win the premiership.

All year I conceded Collingwood had the better season, but Geelong where going to win when it mattered. And their demolition last Friday, made me totally rethink Collingwood’s chances of Premiership success.

Never the less, I was never going to miss out on this game. By ten thirty I’m already in the ground walking around the stadium. It’s a quite facinating experience that I go through every year. I see more people with signs pleading for tickets thhan most years, and just more people around the ground in general. The power of Collingwood.

On my stroll I spot an “iconic” Collingwood figure. Decked out with a flamboyant white coat and hat with ratty white hair hanging down was Joffa. I follow him for a bit, everybody who passes him turns and stares. Some cheer, most boo and one old lady with a St. Kilda scarf looks like shes about to get out of her wheelchair and attack him.

He goes down to where I was heading, the MMM radio box in the car park. He goes onto a stage and it turns out he’s the next guest on”the peanut gallery”.

There’s hardly anyone in the crowd but once Joffa is seen Pies fans swarm from everywhere. He behaves himself on radio but brings out the worst of the Collingwood people. I can’t take much more of this carry on and leave before the end of the “interview,” as if I needed any help deciding on who to barrack for today.

After about twenty hamburgers and sausages I enter the ground. The seats are fantastic, made only better by the fact that I’m surrounded mostly by St Kilda fans.

The pre-match entertainment started great with one my favorite bands INXS, however the rest was quite poor. The annual lap of honours come out and I save my loudest cheer for Cousins and Richo. As Rising Star winner Daniel Hannebury comes past me I call out to him “On ya Martin!”

I’m pumped for the opning bounce but ten minutes in and my fears are becoming reality. A blowout is on the cards and everything is going Collingwood’s way. It all unfolds infront of me.

I’m directly behind Dale Thomas for his shot on goal, it’s a shocker and probably won’t even make the distance. Miraculously the ball keeps coming back and sneaks through. The Pies look unstoppable.

St Kilda ping a couple back late to salvage the quarter. It doesn’t look good though.

The second term is much of the same. I find myself getting frustrated with St Kilda’s inability to penetrate their forward 50. Remarkably Riewoldt kicks the first goal of the quarter after Collingwood fails to take oppertunities. It could come back to haunt them in this low scoring contest.

Dane Swan is dominating. His bursts out packs and kicks into the forward line are amazing to watch but St Kilda is being saved by the defenders. Fisher, Gwilt and Dawson are all defending well despite the amount of supply the Pie forwards are recieving.

Dawson lays a heavy bump on one of my most hated players’ Alan Didak. This causes me to get out of my seat and shout “Yeah Lukey, come on Saints, lift your game!!!!!” I’ve become more than just a neutral supporter now. I REALLY don’t want Collingwood to win.

Half time and St Kilda are still in it. They shouldn’t be, but they are. I stick around for the half-time spritnt and am not surprised when Nason finished last, poor selection Richmond.

It’s a different St Kilda that return to the field. Gilbert pushes forward and sets up a goal for Riewoldt to open up the term. The intensity has definately been raised.

Goddard bring the Saint fans (and myself) to their feet as he takes a strong mark and slots a goal to really give St Kilda a sniff. With momentum Hayes clears the ball straight away where Riewolt takes a great mark over Nathan Brown. Nick goes back, lines himself up and…..misses!!! Skippers aren’t allowed to do that in those situations.

After a while I notice Gardiner hasn’t been on at all this quarter. Lenny Hayes is stepping up though, constantly going third man up and clearing the ball the cleanly. I hope the All Australian seclectors are watching. (judging by some of their selections I’d say their not)

Dale Thomas misses an absolute shocker as Pies go the quarter goaless. Minutes later Thomas finds himself inside 50 with the ball again. Confidence stricken, he decides to centre it to the first year player Jarryd Blair. I think he’s a certainty for there. The kick looks good from my angle and as it’s about to sail in through the goals the ball thumps into the post! What an unbeleivable miss. “Come on Sainters!!! The Pies don’t want it!”

As the siren sounds I sprint up the stairs to the toilets. I wasn’t the only male with tjhe idea but I still get back in time for the start of the fourth. “Anyone know what’s the go with Gardiner?” I call out hoping for a response with someone with a radio. “Yeah he’s fine.” says an old saint fan next to me, “he came back on at the end of the quarter.” Not sure he was watching same game as me, and sure enough Gardiner doesn’t return to the field.

The noise is electriyfying as the final quarter starts, the final half an hour of the season, my voice is already gone but I keep cheering on the Saints.

The quarter starts the same as the third. Nothing but contested footy, packs forming all over the ground, just the way us football fans like it. There’s a “next goal wins” feel to it all. Tension could not be higher.

After countless, tackles, ball ups, scrappy handballs and throw ins St Kilda finally get a genuine chance to goal with a one on one contest: Nick Riewoldt v Nathan Brown.

Riewoldt gets front position but loses track of it leaving Brown to take a solid grab behind him. Presti couldn’t have done that.

And then with a fatal twist of irony it all seems over. Leon Davis (who has been useless all day and would be the downfall of Malthouse if Saints were to win) picks up the ball beautifully, and after weaving through a couple of St Kilda players, snaps a magnifcent goal that’s surely the begining of the end for St Kilda.

To my amazement, Saints aren’t finished with yet. Lenny Hayes kicks an unbeleivable goal 55 out. Hayes is unstoppable at the moment, he gets the clearence out to Dal Santo who finds Milne. Milne goes back and slots it. I go ballistic. Who’d ever thought I’d be cheering this much for Stephen Milne?

Saints continue to attack, a ball up in Saints 50 leads to Riewoldt dribbling one in from a pack of players, it looks good…until Maxwell dives across the line to make a fantastic save.

Scores are level!

And then the sealer. Out of nowhere Goddard goes soaring above a pack of players to take an unforgettable mark. He goes back and kicks truly, to put Saints in front. It’s as if Leo Barry has not only taken his grab, but kicked a goal from it!

But we havn’t seen the final twist in this epic yet. Collingwood have a go at scrambling the ball forward. Macaffer kicks to the pack, I can’t see whose got it, bodies are everywhere fumbelling until Cloke somehow finds it and goals. I’m shatterd. I’m dead silent as the Collingwood fans celebrate the premiership around me. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

One point down, Dawes has the chance to put the final nail in the coffin but doesn’t make the distance. Saints fight their way out for deciding moment.

Of all players, Lenny Hayes finds the ball in a pack sixty out and thumps it in the goal area. Milne gets an unkind bounce and it goes through for a behind. Unbelievable.

Comments

  1. Great stuff Mikey.

    I wish I was there, it was one of the best games I’ve ever seen. How St Kilda managed to wither that Collingwood burst is still beyond me. Lenny Hayes is an absolute star, I have no doubt that he’ll win another Norm Smith next week.

    Hope next week’s replay is half as good as this one.

  2. Stunning game, wasn’t it Mike? That match will stick in the minds of everyone who watches it for a long time.

    On a totally trivial issue, I thought Robbie Hicks should have got the GF sprint gig, or David Gourdis. Speaking of which, I heard Gourdis got bitten by a spider in Thailand recently.

    Hope you enjoy the replay just as much!

  3. Michael Allan says:

    There’s no way I’ll enjoy the replay as much. That game was too good.

    Hicks? Are you allowed to use past winners? Surely White’s the quickest in the team. Edwards would’ve been my choice.

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