Round 6 – Collingwood v Richmond: D.Wilson & B.Grundy 

 

A flurry of messages begins my Sunday of footy…

 

D.Wilson: If you take Swan St, I’ll approach along Smith St. I’ll ride. Leaving Brunswick at 1.30pm – 2pm.

 

Me: Divide, conquer. I’ll meet you at KB.

 

D.Wilson: KB…see you at the feet of Dick Reynolds. A Collier.

 

This is not military code, but MCG code. I should be good at this. I’m not good at this.

 

Where’s the statue of Dick Reynolds? I really should pay more attention to these blessed statues…

 

Was Dick Reynolds a coal miner? If not, who the bleeding hell is A Collier?

 

So, where are we meeting again?

 

As it happens, we settle on K.Miller. I’m more excited by the company than the occasion, though this Collingwood and Richmond clash is the most important and anticipated in some time.

 

I can’t put my finger on when I decided David Wilson would be a good person to a watch a game of footy with. But I can put my finger on why.

 

D.Wilson is either a young forty or an early twenty. He has a ring in the cartilage of his left ear. His resting facial expression is calm, and full of curiosity.

 

He writes deeply, writes well, and makes you think. On this website, his pseudonym is the name of a tree, the eucalyptus regnans. He has a habit of referring to anyone and everyone by their first initial, and their surname – that’s just E.Regnans.

 

Today, as we stroll up the ramp towards our seats on level 4, he’s wearing a flat peak cap with his Collingwood jumper. B.Grundy is his favourite player. He wrote a love letter to the big man last week.

 

It’s often said of players that they continue to play for the little child who fell in love with the game. In the case of D.Wilson, he continues to watch, write, observe, exist, with that little child fresh in his mind. You’re never too old to have a favourite player. You’re never too old the wear the guernsey.

 

There’s a sleepy Sunday feel to the whole affair as the teams run out. The shouts of “yellow and black” from the Punt Road End are strangely subdued, as if the good people of Richmond are still at their brunch tables.

 

It takes the appearance of the protected area to rouse the barrackers to attention. How far is fifty metres?

 

“How long is a piece of string?” quips D.Wilson.

 

Shane Edwards dishes the ball every which way with the ease of a blackjack dealer, crafting two scoring shots for Richmond. Both miss. Grundy keeps tapping it down the throat of Steele Sidebottom.

 

When Grundy’s opponent, Toby Nankervis, marks inside fifty in acres of space, I can’t help but ask where D.Wilson’s favourite player has gone.

 

“Nank’s a beautiful kick for a big man,” I say.

 

He misses. If D.Wilson has an urge to rub my smart-arsed nose in it, he resists.

 

Mason Cox, meanwhile, is killing us. D.Wilson chimes in again – “his Twitter handle is @masonsixtencox.”

 

We change Cox’s epithet, and for the rest of the day he is referred to exclusively as “six-foot ten Mason Cox”.

 

Short, the main reason Richmond’s premiership 22 will probably never again take the field together, kicks the first with beautiful roost from fifty. Six-foot ten Mason Cox continues to mark everything that comes near him. Sadly, as D.Wilson surmises, the next bridge for the big fella will need to be his goal kicking.

 

But six-foot ten Mason Cox isn’t alone. The sides share five goals and six behinds in the opening term, and two of those majors came in thirty seconds of madness. Jack Higgins goals for Richmond, only to be bowled over by Lynden Dunn and awarded another shot. The City End nearly explodes.

 

“Gee, I’d be pissed if they paid that against Richmond….” I say.

 

Again, D.Wilson refuses to take the bait. Instead, we agree that the game is a real treat with so many guns on show. What a pleasure it is that our sides are relevant and skilled at the same time.

 

Riewoldt extends the Richmond lead to open the second term, much to the annoyance of a nearby Magpie fan.

 

“One too many bloody handballs,” he screams.

 

“There’s always one…,” D.Wilson whispers.

 

In the Collingwood attacking fifty, Rance and friends have given up trying to get near the hands of six-foot ten Mason Cox. Instead, they push him in the back and to the ground, giving him a free kick.

 

Dad chimes in with a timely text – “Cox, or Carey? Also, make sure you water the veggie garden.”

 

The players hit every contest with all the force they can muster. It feels like every collision has a goal hinging upon its outcome. The Pies lift, and Richmond are saved only by a free-kick to Rance.

 

“Free kick Hawthorn,” someone cries. Is that what they’re calling us now?

 

We marvel at the work of S.Pendlebury, who slows the game around him like Neo from the Matrix. Two goals from the hyphen, Will Hoskin-Elliot, send the Magpies into the half-time break ahead.

 

D.Wilson sets off for a stroll. If you’d put me on the spot, I’d have guess he was a half-time stroller. Silence in his company feels logical, comfortable – the man needs time to think. He’s a contemplator, but his ability to listen suggests he knows he hasn’t worked it all out just yet.

 

When he returns and the Auskickers vanish, B.Grundy flies into a pack with no regard for his own safety. Butler dribbles a much-needed goal for Richmond, who seem to have regrouped. Short sets one up for Riewoldt, but De Goey and Reid respond.

 

“That’d be Ben Reid from Bright in north-east Victoria,” D.Wilson says, in a way that tells me he’s said it 100 times before.

 

When D.Wilson walked into a Bright petrol station in his Collingwood guernsey, the cashier recognised the club colours, and asked after Ben Reid.

 

“He’s one of our own, that Ben Reid. He’s the Ben Reid from Bright in north-east Victoria,” the cashier had said.

 

Back at the ‘G, a late goal from Josh Caddy, returning from injury but originally from Marcellin College in Bulleen, sends the Tigers into the final change ahead by 9.

 

T.Nankervis opens the last quarter with three marks in a minute, and continues to hustle and bustle. In fact, the big man is taking it up to B.Grundy and raising him. An opportunistic snap from Caddy makes the lead 17 points, as big as it’s been all day.

 

D.Wilson senses that the Pies are about to be outlasted. Their effort until this point has been superb.

 

As Richmond come home with a flurry of goals, D.Wilson is telling me about having to call Clive Lloyd and Jeff Thomson to write pieces about their roles in World Series Cricket, and about the sports his girls are playing, and the ones they can now choose to play if they want to.

 

He shows me a tweet that’s gone viral…

 

In this particular game of Aussie Rules, the Tigers run out 43-point winners, but it’s one of the rare occasions where everyone leaves somewhat satisfied. The Pies showed enough to challenge the premiers, which bodes well for the rest of their year. And the premiers rose to the challenge, as very good sides do.

 

As we drift out of the MCG, we talk of the prospect of doing this all again, and we say our farewells.

 

D.Wilson sets off to ride his bike back up to East Brunswick.

 

 

About Jack Banister

Journalism student @ Melbourne Uni, Brunswick Hockey Club Men's Coach, tortured Tigers fan.

Comments

  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    J.Banister, that was a pleasure to read first thing Saturday morning. Your observational powers heightened here along with those of one E.Regnans.

    Players and fans hang in there for “the little child who fell in love with the game” I reckon. Great line and super piece all round. Cheers

  2. Stainless says:

    A Richmond supporter and a Collingwood supporter attend a match between their two sides and sit quietly together exchanging the occasional reflective musings! What strange dystopian world have I lobbed into??
    Jack – I gather from D. Wilson that you and I are in bromance competition for Nank. Wasn’t he terrific?

  3. Peter_B says:

    Beautiful piece Jack. Mind you, you had a bit of help. Tag team? Collingwood as the gentle giant Mario Milano and your manic Tigers as Killer Karl Cox.
    Nailed it in one JB. I mainly go to Eagles and Swan Districts games (as distinct from watching on TV) because I’m 8 years old again. At live games I’m passionate, at home on TV I’m analytical. Releasing the inner idiot. Love it.

  4. BzgBurnell says:

    Words fail me… what a refreshing and insightful view from the G. Nice work… hope to read more.

  5. JBanister says:

    Thanks all. Much easier to enjoy the football these days, with the Tigers flying. Also much easier to write when you have D.Wilson doing much of the whimsical work.

    Nankervis was indeed my BOG. Only a matter of time until he wins the Brownlow, you feel…

  6. Jarrod_L says:

    A.Goodes, J.Stynes…T.Nankervis? About time a tall bloke won a Charlie.

    Speaking of, check out 1992’s leading votes – no mids in the top four, only 2 in the first 8!

  7. E.regnans says:

    Well played, Nank.
    A thoroughly enjoyable day. And brought to life here.
    Love what you saw; what you say you saw.

    K Miller a much more appropriate meeting spot than D Reynolds.

    As for A Collier…
    Check out this wee 1939 Tour of Tasmania programme, that featured Collingwood v Richmond at North Hobart Oval.
    http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/round-2-collingwood-v-richmond-an-on-it-goes/

    Many thanks.
    Play on, Brodes.

  8. Mandy Johnson says:

    Nice one, as always Jack. Great observations. Imagine not meeting at KB. What weird Collingwood world is this?

  9. Luke Reynolds says:

    That’s a cracking piece Jack.
    D.Wilson definitely an early twenty!
    I generally meet people at the Ponsford or Lillee statue. Or the Warnie one if it’s a drinking day. Look forward to the day I can meet someone at the P.Daicos statue at the ‘G.

  10. Smokie says:

    A nice read, Jack.
    D. Wilson is sort of timeless, just like the eucalyptus regnans.

  11. JBanister says:

    Thanks all. I’ll be sticking with KB in future. Much more straightforward. Unmissable.

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