Round 16 – Greater Western Sydney v Collingwood: Glad I went (Floreat Pica Society)

by Andrea McNamara for the Floreat Pica Society

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I have to confess that I wasn’t sure I was going to this game, even though I was working in Sydney in the week leading up to it. There’s been too much frustration and disappointment this year, and with poor crowds, bad losses and – most recently – the new torture of truly ugly wins, I thought I could easily pass on the trip out to Spotless Stadium. And then a Sydney friend assumed I was going and said she’d come along. So I faked enthusiasm, and justified the turnaround by saying it could be interesting to see some men versus some boys:

  • Heath Shaw, who wanted to stay but we didn’t want him (man)
  • Stevie J, who was deemed not physically up to it before he won a Norm Smith medal and a few grand finals (man)
  • Taylor Adams, former Giant, and future captain (self-proclaimed) who has trouble staying on the park (boy)
  • Adam Treloar, former Giant and one of the few good things in our year so far (boy)

I was surprised at the number of Magpie fans on the train out to Spotless, and there were even a few GWS fans too. Some supporters couldn’t stay awake and the game hadn’t even started.

Train

The weather was Melbourne-like in that it was hot and cold, wet and dry, in 10-minute intervals.

spotless

The first quarter started with Travis Cloke’s mark and goal, which felt like a boil had been lanced. We cheered, out of relief as much as anything. The rest of the quarter wasn’t quite as bad as I expected, although we looked outclassed most of the time, and it felt as if their 4- goal lead could become a 10-goal belting very easily. And they make a song-and-dance about Giants goals up there, as they do about Suns goals at Metricon – they need to remind people that a goal is worth six points, and that they need to cheer. There was a fair bit of Giants noise in that quarter.

At quarter time, we discussed Mumford (my companion is a Swans supporter) and how he’s the kind of Big Unit you want in your team, and how great it is that there’s still room for this kind of player in the modern game. I hoped Grundy would learn from the experience.

The second quarter started with a couple of goals to White and Adams in the first five or so minutes so at least our boys held their own. By this, I really mean that the Giants didn’t run away with it. Then Jesse goaled again! Two quick answers by the Giants kept us real, but this game was way more interesting than it looked on paper. Howe was leaping at everything in sight, Trav was presenting with confidence, our defence was strong and backing each other up, and we were having a go.

The funny thing is that I didn’t really notice that we were pegging back that 4-goal lead until my friend said she was going to get food before the half-time crowds converged. ‘I can’t leave, I think we’re about to hit the front,’ I said, without really believing it. Then the Fasolo- and-Blair show happened and with 10 minutes of beautiful confident free-flowing footy, we took a 17-point lead into the long break. Grundy had indeed learned a lot from Mumford – he turned his game around and our midfield was dominant. That was one of those quarters of beautiful footy that makes the effort of going worthwhile.

I’d been watching Heath Shaw, remembering how much I loved him when he played for us. There he was in the wrong colours: same constant yacking, arm-waving, waddling. While Macaffer looked a bit slow, he was playing a thankless role on Heater, holding him close, and when he got his goal (our sixth straight, I think) and put us within a couple of points, all the Pies fans rose to applaud. This is what we’d been waiting for since the Cats game.

And so it happened that we kicked 9.1 in a quarter. Shame Grundy didn’t make it 10 goals with his kick on the siren – it would’ve capped off the best quarter he’s played, ever.

The third quarter started and I think we all assumed the Giants would come out fighting. Then Sinkers goaled within a minute, and Jesse plucked one in the goal square and converted, and I was eating my words. Like many of us, I’ve believed that if Sinkers and White are in our best 22, we simply cannot win.

There was a point in the last when – despite not kicking a goal – I knew we couldn’t lose. Confidence is a marvellous thing and pretty much every player in black and white was playing a role. It was a team effort. You can pick out individuals like Sidebottom and Treloar and Pendles, but Maynard, de Goey, Smith (who seems to have slipped in to his role and never looks out of place), Sinclair, White, Howe, Blair … all of them contributed. Reid didn’t star, nor did Brown but they were solid despite Cameron and Patton kicking goals. We had twelve goalkickers: how long is it since that happened? I loved Howe’s game, turnovers and all. And great to have Adams back – he’s such a hard unit.

So in the end, Stevie J and Heater (the men) lost to the boys (Adams and Treloar). Grundy played like a man, rather than a promising ruckman, and Clokey wound back the clock and marked everything in sight – a great addition to the manpower side of things. Who knows if this Collingwood will last, but gee it was fun. As Titus O’Reilly tweeted: ‘This is like watching the Collingwood Collingwood always talk about.’

I’ve given my votes based on game-changing effect. There are plenty of others who could be in there.

3. Grundy
2. Steele
1. Cloke

GWSCOL

Comments

  1. Rulebook says:

    Well done,Andrea,Grundy is showing what a few of us thought before his draft that he would become a genuine super star of the game( a farce that he fell to draft choice 18) it will be a sensational game against the crows this week the pies have been disappointing this season and under achieved as a crows man I really rate the pies list getting players back from injury in Fasulo and Adams was vital sat night should be a ripper

  2. E.regnans says:

    Love the addition of photos, Andrea.

    And the local observation of being told when to cheer.
    Diabolically undermining of crowd morale.
    I’ve experienced similar at Melbourne Rebels games in the rugby union.
    “Clap now, Melbourne!”
    Err. No. We’ll clap when some on-field endeavour moves us to clap.
    Paid up fans thought of as a studio audience providing atmosphere, rather than as a crowd of supporters.

    Great story.
    Nice footy record.

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