Grand Final wash-up: is that all there is?

When asked by a reporter why he had decided to visit Canada, the Irish playwright, Brendan Behan, is said to have replied “I saw a picture at the Airport saying “Drink Canada Dry” so I thought I’d come here and try”.

My more modest intention, following a Collingwood Grand Final win, was to line the pockets of a small sub-section of Melbourne’s petty bourgeoisie who own the string of pubs and bars in the Collingwood area, and who no doubt live in more salubrious suburbs than Carringbush.

The Carringbush Hotel was the first stop on what I hoped would be a whirlwind tour of multiple Collingwood drinking establishments. Having had a few preliminaries before arriving, we ended up staying until closing time, gleefully engaging in some condescending banter with an undercover Carlton supporter about anything from their list management, president, player development program and seagulls like Bryce Gibbs.

What was surprising, perhaps, was the manner in which it was received. It could have been the 99% Collingwood mix at the bar, but I like to think it was also a vindication of Collingwood having got it right, across the board, and that fact being self-evident to this poor supplicant. Moments where you can lecture Carlton supporters on the ABCs of football success are as rare as rocking horse shit, and, I reasoned, must be taken with both hands.

The conversation – or more correctly, pedagogical monologue – was like delivering the longest lead up to a punch-line of a joke that never arrived: to my amazement, my points were being taken seriously. I kept waiting for the rebuke, but it never came.

On reflection, no one cleaves to power and success like a Carlton supporter, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been amazed that as a supporter fresh from success, I might have had valuable knowledge to impart, even as a Collingwood supporter.

I was milking that conversation to the absolute dregs, just as the Pies supporters did with Goodbye Dolly Gray and other youthful paeans, such as “where’s your Didak?”. I do like the club song, but Jesus wept, after 80 repetitions it was waxing a little thin, even for me. That’s not to say I didn’t join every rendition, politely excusing my diatribe with said Carlton supplicant before returning to the problem with Stix and the rock-star worship of Judd versus Collingwood’s implacable system. I didn’t want to burn my bridges, to slay the golden goose who was providing me with much schadenfreuder, so good behaviour was at a premium.

The running partner of this poor character was a Melbourne supporter who lived around the corner and was a regular visitor to the Carringbush. It was the perfect opportunity to point out that Melbourne was the model of development that Carlton should have pursued, had they not squandered their opportunities and blown the budget on the feted-one Judd and bad boy Brendan. This provided a neat segue to Stix Kernahan’s drinking prowess, John Elliot, boat cruises and club culture before a neat return to Carlton’s lost decade and foreboding medium-term future.

After running through Carlton’s lack of key position players and their doubtful recruiting, I tried to offer some solace, but could only come up with names like Hadley, McLean, and Johnson. Even my compliments had the distinctive taste of glove. Why had Carlton recruited four excellent ruck prospects of the same age, who they could not possibly retain without wasting money playing them in the VFL? Why didn’t they have two mature rucks and a couple of apprentices who might succeed them, like Collingwood? Sure, trade away, but this was not the year to trade rucks with a reasonable supply on the market.

With an “oh well” – a Collingwood supporter can never bring themselves to say good luck to a team such as Carlton – I returned to my mission, celebrating with Collingwood fans. When the bar closed, a few of us made our way to Smith Street, via Hoddle St and up Johnson, before arriving at some awful trendy bar. On the way I broke my personal best high-five record in a day by 64 with a grand total of 65.

No football paraphernalia was the entry rule, but that was soon disbanded when it became apparent that everyone bar Collingwood supporters had vacated the area.

The will could not compete with the supersaturation of my body with beer molecules. Being blasted by lame music I had never heard was a punishment I had not anticipated and became too much. I left the bar, anti-climactically, at 2:00 a.m. before grabbing a cab. The last excitement was a couple of stow-aways who jumped into the back of the much sought after cab, hoping to go to Moonee Ponds after a drop-off at North Coburg. Having explained the cost-benefit analysis, these desperadoes soon disembarked and I made my way home.

My plan for a week long celebration dissipated as my partner, Anna, explained to me her own cost-benefit analysis of such a venture. It had all the hallmarks of logic and pedagogy which, in my weakened state, where impossible to counter. In moments like these, logic always trumps romance, especially beery-football romance, which is a sad indictment on our world, mine in particular.

I still feel I haven’t enjoyed this victory to the full. My only solace now is a daily visit my Hawthorn supporting workmate, Bruno – who has given me such football grief over the years – kicking his nerf mini-football at him while discussing Collingwood’s excellent list and prospects and the future of Alistair Clarkson’s tenure.

About Dave Latham

Dave Latham has recently finished a history thesis on class and Australian Rules football in Melbourne between the years 1870 and 1920.


  1. dave latham says:

    This article comes under the tag hubris? It may be boastful, gloating and triumphalist, but full of hubris? Never.

    p.s. e-mail me for a detailed explanation of your club’s shortcomings.

  2. John Butler says:


    Just a little dig. A small part of the ongoing dance between the two clubs.

    If anything, I reckon the Pies have been too conscious of keeping a lid on things (with 1990 in mind). This may be a source of your residual yearning.

    When it comes to footy hubris, it would be hard to top Jack’s later years helming the Blues.

    The Magpies have earned the right to dispense advice for the moment. Carlton’s recent achievements are negligible.

    But football fates can change more quickly than expected. One more St Kilda point first time around and the Pies’ evenness may well have been assessed a weakness.

    Enjoy the flag. They’re getting harder to win.

  3. JB,
    i had a Collingwood man siddle up to me yesterday and calmly utter “I wish you had out list”. All I could say is I’d never want anything that comes with so much baggage. I don’t begrudge the Pies their time in the sun but please we are talking about two premierships in over 50 years.

  4. Sidle not Siddle

  5. Andrew Fithall says:

    Thanks for the report David. As someone who watched the game at home and then settled in for the evening to watch it again, I feel that I too haven’t properly celebrated. Although a dinner with the Floreat Pica Society the following Saturday was certainly a celebration. Dale Thomas just tweeted that today is his final day of off-season. Back to work

    Tony (#3) It is actually 3 premierships in 53 years, which is nothing to crow about. Geelong however,seem reasonably content with that. It is worth pointing out that over the next 50 years, with all current and proposed teams in the competition, three premierships will be better than par.

  6. As someone who went to both Grand Finals I have been in celebration mode for weeks. Happy up front celebration mode at the Floreat Pica dinner and every time I meet fellow Pie supporters and quiet enigmatic smile celebration mode for the rest of the time.

    Three Premierships for 53 years may be par for the course for the future but that is not what people like Tony are bagging Collingwood supporters about. They are referring to the statistic of 13 Grand Finals for two wins and two draws in the past 50 years. Personally I am hoping in the years left to me that I will see Collingwood gradually reach the point where they have won as many Grand Finals as they have lost. To acheive this during my lifetime they will have to contest and win at least five Grand Finals in the next decade. I am fine with this.

  7. And Dave Hopefully one of those GFs may be played against Blues although hard to see that happening for some years but it would be great to get back in the ring on the big day thats for sure.

  8. Sydney Malakellis says:

    I don’t know what all these Collingwood people are getting excited about. They haven’t won on the last Saturday in September since 1958. The drought continues, and the Cats are still the premiers in my books…

  9. dave latham says:

    At work it is a continuing joy, shouting out to other Collingwood supporters and asking them if they could tell me what happened with the GF as I missed the results.

    My neighbour who we disaffectionately refer to as the oaf – for his oaf-like behaviour (see wit) – barracks for St Kilda and I’m always happy to keep my membership stickers in pristine condition.

    But I haven’t had a proper beery get together since, to watch the dvd and guffaw out loud.

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