Lord, grant us salvation from the Magpie army

By Susie Giese

“That’s right, just run over the Salvation army guy,” sister Katherine laughs at me. In the midst of the pandemonium that is the crowd flocking to the MCG, one split-second to turn and talk to mum results in near-disaster. How does one work off the demerit of knocking down a tin-rattler? Thank-fully, my soul did not need to ponder this too thoroughly.

The home of football is awash with people; it feels like a final (but isn’t that always the way with these two clubs?). We make our way up to the third level, in front of the score board, and look around in dismay. I can see maybe a handful of Cats fans in a section chockers with Colliwobblers. It doesn’t take me long to figure out they are the worst of their kind.

Early in proceedings, just as I am being to rue my decision not to make Ablett my SC captain (he’s up to four or five disposals already!), Katherine notes the screeching girl behind me is my Collingwood vocal equivalent. It is a statement too true for offence, so I sagely nod in agreement. When every third word hints at a past life as a sailor, however, Katherine respectfully withdraws her earlier comment.

Collingwood kick the first goal, not wasting their opportunity, and the Magpie army roar their approval. It is not too long before Stokesy, Geelong’s very own Magpie specialist, gets his first for the game. This one comes courtesy some beautiful, vintage Ablett work.

The pressure is intense early, and Shagga Byrnes fudges a kick on the wing. Collingwood pounce and Beams goals. You can’t afford to turn it over with this team. Byrnes redeems himself moments later, intercepting a Collingwood pass, but for the first time in football history, the ball bounces the wrong way for the mercurial Stevie J, and a chance goes begging.

All the play is happening in Collingwood’s attacking half, and I don’t see where Geelong are going to get opportunities to score. A contestable 50-metre penalty costs Geelong a goal, but I’m quite happy that, for the most part, the umpies are staying out of it. Oh, if only it had’ve lasted!

Pods gets one back for the Cats, and it looks briefly as if his MCG hoodoo is over.  Cats continue to play too-cute in defence, not realising who their opponents are, and Didak makes them pay. He’s causing us some headaches.

At quarter time, the Pies lead it by 10 points. I feel I can’t afford to miss even a second of the game, so I put my notebook away. I’ll just have to do my best from memory from here on in.

The Cats let Collingwood get 28 points clear in the second term, and it looks like it is going to be a shellacking. No one is standing up (except the Collingwood supporters around me). Finally, something clicks. When Varcoe lifts his game, things always seem to happen. He’s involved. Selwood and Ablett suddenly remember they’re the allegedly premier midfield duo in the competition, and deign to make an appearance. Chappy kicks a ripper, and Katherine delightedly notes: “To err is human, to Chappy: divine”.

Geelong somehow stumble into halftime 1 point up, courtesy a Joel Corey goal in the dying seconds, but it’s clear that if not for the brilliant pressure and unrelenting effort of our backline, this game would already be over.

The third quarter starts, and Geelong are continuing to make the most of their opportunities. They’ve got the momentum, and are starting to dominate the game. This is all until a certain umpiring decision changed things. Now, I need to set the scene here, and it goes back a long way, so please allow me this digression.

They are an interesting crowd, down at Skilled Stadium. Last game, Bob was doing the rounds. A regular, ageing, beer-loving gentleman was absent. The young blokes who sit in front of him knew this prior to the match, and somehow had a picture of him roaring (whether it was triumphant or furious is still ambiguous) with a beer cup in his hand. They’d blown it up to A2 size, backed it with a cut-up cardboard box, and stickytaped a ruler to the back to hold it. This picture did the rounds, the young men taking photos of the crowd holding “Bob”. A couple of obliging policemen even featured.

Now, I have my suspicions this is the same group who have an Umpire Daniel Wilson, aka “Froggy”, appreciation society down at Skilled Stadium. Each time Froggy takes his score card from his pocket, cheers erupt. Each time he stretches, he gets cheered. He finally cottoned on to this one week, and kept bringing out his little notebook every minute or two when play was down the other end, just to get a cheer.

THIS SAME MAN, ladies and gentleman, robbed Geelong star Shannon “Shagga” Byrnes of a goal in the third quarter. Mooney won the ball on the fifty metre arc, kicking to Shagga’s advantage in the goal square. Byrnes stumbled onto it, getting boot to ball about a metre out from goal. He celebrated. Geelong celebrated. Froggy was in prime position. It was a close call, but there are many closer, and the goalies usually get them right. This was inexcusable, and I totally agree with Stevie Quartermain’s claim that Wilson should never umpire a senior game again (harsh, and in a week I will feel differently, but for now I’m still a little bitter).

Geelong manage to sneak through one more goal, extending their lead to 12 points, but it’s clear from then on that the game is working in favour of the Stripes. Collingwood take a 13-point lead into the final break, and the Geelong hopeful just pray that we can pull ourselves out of this one. In my head, though, I can’t stop reminding myself of the past eight Grand Finals. I know, logically, that patterns are just there, and don’t dictate fate, but perhaps this one has more relevance than most.

Losing to a team going into finals, you have the fire in your belly. No room for complacence. If Geelong win, will we rest on our laurels? But if we lose, we know we need to lift our game. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and it doesn’t look like happening tonight.

Fourth quarter starts, and before too long, Geelong are needing four goals to steal the victory. It’s clear this isn’t going to happen. But then we get one (I think it was Stokesy), and three goals will seal the deal.

Mooney has the chance to stand up! To be the hero! To take the game to within two goals with plenty of time left to win it. But Mooney is … Mooney. He misses. And we miss another moments later. Before you know it, Collingwood goal and it’s game over.

The Pies by 22 points. At least Danni Eid will be happy. But what can be taken from this game? I feel the acknowledgement that Collingwood outplayed us and are therefore certain to win the flag is too simplistic and (perhaps) flawed. Need I remind people Carlton and Adelaide have both embarrassed Geelong, also?

We need to look at things in perspective, and remind ourselves this was only one game, albeit an important one at that.

Lessons this game has taught us:

  1. Underestimate the Pies at your own risk
  2. The famous Saints pressure for ’09 is child’s play compared to the Pies of ‘10
  3. Podsiadly will not play finals
  4. If Geelong is to stand any chance this finals campaign, they need Blakey back. No more scapegoating. No Blakey = no premiership.
  5. Next time I cop seats amongst Colliwobblers, I shall opt to stand at the bar rather than cop kicks to my seat and a guernsey whipped in my face.
  6. Geelong will not lose to Collingwood again.

Geelong: 3.1 – 9.4 – 11.8 – 12.13.85

Collingwood: 4.5 – 8.9 – 12.15 – 14.23.107

BEST:

Geelong: Enright, Milburn, Chapman

Collingwood: Macaffer, Didak, Wellingham, Cloke, Swan, Pendlebury, Beams

GOALS:

Geelong: Stokes 3, S Johnson 2, Byrnes (should’ve been 2), Ablett, Corey, Podsiadly, Selwood, Chapman, Varcoe

Collingwood: Beams 3, Wellingham, Cloke 2, Didak, B Johnson, Macaffer, Jolly, Swan, Thomas, L Brown

VOTES:

3. Didak (C)

2. Macaffer (C)

1. Wilson (C)

About Susie Giese

Born into the worship of the mighty Hoops, Susie has turned to adopting a Zen-like state during games in recent years to preserve her heart. The Cats of 2015 have the ol’ ticker a-racing, though!

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Susie, like the old song lyric, ” some days are diamonds, other days are stones”.

    Yeesh, if I’m quoting John Denver things must be really crook.

  2. What school did John Denver go to John?

  3. John Butler says:

    Rocky Mountain High I believe, Phantom.

  4. No flies on you JB.

    You are old.

  5. Dave Latham says:

    Old, a very apt term given we’re discussing the Cats.

  6. John Butler says:

    Now lads. Just who is stalking who?

  7. John Butler says:

    And yes Phantom, I am old.

  8. Dave Latham says:

    Usually the beautiful one is stalked, ergo, Phantom is the stalker.

  9. David Downer says:

    Artfully done Susie …before the comments completely obliterate the article itself!

    The Phantom/Latham stoush is escalating into Bigfooty-esque proportions (er, I can only imagine – I’d never actually stoop so low as to ever head over there).

    Latham living up to his political namesake’s form in recent days – troublemaker!

    DD

  10. Dave Latham says:

    How dare you sir, I internet slap you with my glove and challenege you to a duel to the death.

    The location shall be Federation Square. The time, 6:00 p.m. Friday night.

    Wear a nappie so I can recognise you and if I’m not there by 7:30, start without me.

  11. Susie – look of the bright side. The Pies aren’t that bad to Geelong really. After all they capitulated spectacularly in last year’s Preliminary Final which left us with enough run in our legs to beat the Saints the following week. For that I am eternally grateful.

  12. Andrew Fithall says:

    Susie,

    I enjoy your work. Judging by the initial comments, it seems some people are obsessed with football. For me, it is just a sideline recreation until the spring carnival and then the music festival season kicks in. And if you believe that, I own a lovely little island in Bass strait that you may be interested in purchasing. However, on the subject of music festivals, I have just returned from Federation square and the launch of the Queenscliff Music Festival (last weekend in November). Pikelet (who will be appearing at the festival) entertained the audience for half an hour. The first lineup announcement is very encouraging. Two favourites: Washington and Little Red are on board which makes it a “must-attend”. Regardless of football results, people need to have something else to look forward to. For the people of nearby Geelong, it could be a good diversion from September disappointment (oops – didn’t mean to say that bit).

  13. Dave Latham says:

    That’s true Dips, we went pretty easy on you on Saturday.

  14. Great read Susie. :)
    yes i was very happy as you know.
    So happy infact that on Monday at school i was all smiley.
    My friend was like;
    “Danni, it’s MONDAY why are you so happy!?”
    lol

    see you September!

    Fellow President of the We Love Cameron Mooney Fan Club. :P

  15. All this pre-finals banter between Magpie fans and Geelong die-hards – I’m rapt in it!

    But then, I would be, given that “Geelong vs Magpies” is an anagram of “Game envelops Gigs”…

  16. David Latham says:

    Nice. As an Avid Math Lad, that’s very clever.

  17. As is yours, Sir David. Perhaps an anagram duel also beckons…?

  18. David Latham says:

    No, that exhausted all my brain power. I can now only produce the quality of Jeremy Irons to Jeremey’s Iron, a la a famous spikey haired animation character.

  19. Brilliant stuff Susie, your best work that i’ve seen. Interesting to hear about the Collingwood supporters around you. Sure, it might be annoying to be surrounded by the worst of types, but that’s footy. We’d all be a bit sadder if there was no Collingwood army. Thankfully, I’ve never been to a Collingwood game so I haven’t experienced the experience (lets hope it stays that way!)

    Interesting to see no one picked up who was in your votes. I don’t know what’s more appaling, that Wilson scrapped in for a vote for Collingwood or that the useless Brent Macaffer got a mention.

  20. Thanks Josh :-) Don’t know how Pods feels about this being my best work though, LOL, it was scrapped together on Sunday, no notes.

    Footy needs the Magpie army, but I don’t need a guernsey whipping me in the face. If I hadn’t already switched over to Zen Susie, I’d probably be dead by now (I back myself against the girl, but not against the 150 Pies around me).

    Hahaha, I was rather proud of my votes! I wasn’t going to put Wilson down as Collingwood, but in the end, I still think that cost us the momentum and the game, so he aided their cause. Albeit, only a little. And Macaffer had a good game – I think he had the highest SC ranking, or maybe second highest. It seems we had no one “right” for him. I don’t know why I gave Didak 3 votes, perhaps as he had the most disposals on the ground (at least, he did by three-quarter-time, I didn’t check at the end of the game) and I actually like him.

    Clearly, my votes were unabashedly biased and, in one instance, mocking.

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