Cloke and swagger

by Sue Currie

Anticipation was buzzing on Saturday as I climbed aboard the Collingwood Special at Clifton Hill station.  This week was ‘rivalry round’ between my Pies and our historic arch-enemy, Carlton, which is a misnomer in our case, since every Melbourne-based team sees us as their greatest rival.  Just look at Sheeds’ new joke book.

As Mick says, every game’s the same to us.  The hate-factor kicks in about Wednesday in the Victoria-based clubs and their adrenaline’s well and truly pumping by the opening bounce.  For us it’s like lead in the saddle-bags every week.

Just before Leon led our boys out for his 200th, I discovered there was a Blue-bagger cuckoo in the Magpie nest, right in front of me!  Barely containing my indignation, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked who let him in.  He turned out to be one of those rare specimens, a civilised, non-feral Carlton fan, so I seized the opportunity to recruit him for a quarterly report to add balance to mine.

For the first seven minutes it looked like both teams had come to play.  Jolly got the first hit-out but within one minute the Blues got two soft  frees and Hampson kicked their first.  Swanny bullocked his way through the pack at the bounce and passed to Leon for the Pies’ first.

Carrazzo was pinged for holding Swan who passed to Jolly, then on to Cloke who took the first of a bag of great marks and kicked the first of a bag of behinds while Pies fans covered their eyes.

Judd was doing a few things, Grigg had the Blues’ second goal on the board, and Cloke his second point, and it looked like we were in for an afternoon of tight footy.  We weren’t.

Didak goaled out of the pack at the 16 minute mark and Warnock was getting most of the centre hit-outs but with the Pies playing in front and tackling fiercely, the quarter was played out in our forward half.

Cloke’s workrate was tremendous, on the ground and in the air, but a third behind for the quarter had me pleading, ‘Where are you BT?  Come back and teach this guy how to kick’.

By late in the quarter, Judd was fading, the Blues were just bombing the ball forward and neither Betts, Garlett nor Yarran got a touch till the last five minutes when Yarran made a spectacular bouncing dash down the northern wing ending with the ball in the safe hands of Ben Reid.

My Blue-bagger mate was already feeling apprehensive.

Early in the second, the Blues were still in touch, mainly thanks to Cloke’s inaccuracy, but Swanny’d had fifteen possessions despite Carrazzo’s efforts, and Ball and Jolly, who are both looking more like real Magpies every week, were showing why we went after them.

Nathan Brown was giving away too many frees but still the Blues weren’t scoring, and one of our second-chance naughty boys, Sharrod Wellingham, was showing the GB (Gavin Brown) factor.  Every Pies player puts his body on the line but a few show a ferocious level of fearlessness verging on recklessness in their pursuit of the ball.  Wellingham is one, Lockyer another.

Cloke kicked his fourth behind, Harry-O and Goldy were like a brick wall, Judd was becoming invisible, the Blues remained goalless for the quarter and my Blue-bagger mate was disgusted.

The momentum was all with the Pies in the third and Leon had found the form he’s been searching for for months.  Wellingham was gone for the day with a knock to his knee, Pies’ goals were flowing freely having kicked the last ten and Jolly thrilled us with a thundering, pack-splitting mark on the southern flank.  Although this guy can kick goals he missed this one as so often happens after someone takes a speccy.  Then a short time later it did happen as it should when Fisher took a sensational grab and finally chalked up the Blues’ third.

It was all too late for my Blue-bagger mate though, who by this stage was in despair and threatening immanent departure.

The final quarter was something of an anti-climax and both sides’ supporters were ready for the final bell.

The Pies had put the cue in the rack and dropped the pace.  This, coupled with a string of soft sympathy frees, let Carlton in for five consecutive easy goals giving them an almost respectable scoreboard and Cloke had finally posted a couple of big goals when it no longer mattered.  He was able to produce a wry smile or two to the jeers of the Magpie fans.

Just as well this guy can’t kick straight, otherwise he would be as good as Nick Riewoldt, could command another $50,000 on his contract, and the footy commentariat might even be forced to concede that Pies have a star player!

Cloke’s errant boot is actually a bonus for Collingwood.  It means we are not a one-man-band like others I could mention.  Cloke spent a recent fortnight mentally injured and we didn’t miss a beat.  Our forward structure didn’t collapse without him because we have a dozen other non-stars who can be relied on to kick a score, week in and week out.

My mate had gone by the half way mark as had most of his fellow Blues, disgusted with their team of sooks.

The highlight of the game for me was not Goldy’s or Daisy’s hangers and not even Dids’ 70 metre torp.  It was that chain of perfection in the third, starting with Harry-O causing a turnover from a Joseph kick, involving several lightning handballs between Goldy, Maxy, Swanny and Sidebottom onto kicks through Reid, Pendle, Daisy, Dawes, Macaffer and finishing with Leon’s third goal.  Awesome.  These guys are in the zone.

Votes  Cloke 3
Ball 2
Davis 1

About Sue Currie

A devoted Magpie since my father took me to my first game at Victoria Park when I was five years old. That was nearly 70 years ago. Even when I was a nurse on a remote Aboriginal desert community I managed to see most Pies’ games on Imparja TV. When I went to work up Cape York and found that the only way to find out what was happening to my Pies was to sit in my FWD and listen to HF radio I quit my job and came back to where they play civilised footy, ie., Aussie Rules.

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