The Empire doesn’t strike back

Sniffling and coughing, I woke to a bed that was completely burning me alive. I quickly got up, wrote a note on the table for Dad, saying I was staying home from school, and turned my electric blanket down, way down. Things finally started to cool off, and I drifted back off to sleep, enjoying a fine sleep-in on a sunny Friday morning. This Friday stunk of September, serious September action.

Of course, with impeccable timing, I caught a cold on the last day of school for the term. Not as bad as the pneumonia that ruined my last holidays. I sniffed and sneezed my way through the day, spending most of the day in my room, before venturing into Numurkah and seeing a pig down the main street. Yes, the things you see in the country.

After stocking up on snacks for the next few days of football, I started to get butterflies in my stomach. Why? I don’t know. I was nervous for Geelong, nervous for Collingwood. I didn’t want either team to lose. But I didn’t want Collingwood to win, so I was barracking for the Cats. Total contradiction there.

I was torn between the two teams; I really didn’t know who I wanted to prevail. Of course, I wanted the Pies to lose, as every good Australian would, but dealing with a very unhappy Danielle Eid is hard to even comprehend, but then on the other end of the spectrum was the prospect of a devastated Susie Giese, so barracking for one side was like wishing for one of those girls to be extremely cut and upset by the end of the night. But you can’t watch a game of football without predicting a winner, especially an important final like this, and I eventually sided with the Cats. Why? Experience.

I don’t know what experience stands for anymore though, as the young Collingwood side treated Geelong like a VFL side in the opening quarter. Travis Cloke took a good mark and kicked a very important first-up goal, before Scott Pendlebury received from Alan Didak to run into an open goal. Gary Ablett’s first three kicks of the night were terrible, selling teammates short and missing the target on another occasion. Sharrod Wellingham goaled form a free kick against Corey Enright, before David Wojcinski went on a trademark run up the wing, dishing the ball off as he ran into trouble. Travis Varcoe ended up with it, and from outside 50 on the run, he drilled a long goal, giving Geelong their first major of the night. It was just a wimper though, as Leigh Brown kicked an unbelievably flukey goal from 60m out. He gathered the ball and immediately threw the ball onto his boot, sending an awkward, spiraling ball wide of the goals. But the footy gods were shining on Collingwood, and the ball bounced at a freaky angle to bounce through. The Collingwood eyes in the front row were open as far as they could, everyone in the stadium and everyone watching at home could tell that this was Collingwood’s night. Didak improved the lead after Geelong failed to capatalise on an interchange infringement against Collingwood after Dale Thomas didn’t run through the correct line to get onto the field. C’mon umpires, be sensible, why punish a team because one player graced a little bit of illegal turf? Pendlebury booted his second on the run from inside 50, then Ben Johnson easily evaded Cameron Ling and put it through from 45m out. The Magpie army were shocked; Geelong fans were trying to believe what just happened. Collingwood led by 37 points at the first break.

At the restart for the second quarter, Geelong fed the ball out of packs from the centre the wrong way, eventually ending up at centre half back, where the ball was turned over and Steele Sidebottom kicked the easiest of goals. That’s not Geelong, something was clearly wrong tonight. The pressure of Collingwood was magnificent though, second to none. Cam Mooney bobbed up and did something useful for the night, taking a good mark and converting. The other goalkicking demon, Cloke, marked in the goalsquare and even he couldn’t miss from point-blank as he booted his second. Dayne Beams, another shaky Magpie in front of the big sticks, shrugged off any concern the cheersquad had with him as he guided through his first of the night, then that orange flag showed its ugly face again.

With Harry Taylor the recipient of a free kick at centre half back, he went to transfer the ball up the ground, before a series of whistles brought him to rethink that action. The interchange umpire was on the field with the orange flag held out to his side, and only a few words were heard, but they told the entire story. “Interchange infringement. Corey Enright, Collingwood free.” As it turned out, Enright did the same as Thomas and ran past the small bracket that players are supposed to run over when coming onto/off the field. He was a few centimeters out, now it was costing his side six points as Thomas rammed home his first from the resultant free kick/50m penalty double whammy. That rule needs tinkering with Andrew Demetriou. Shannon Byrnes snapped a clever goal on the behind line, before Brownlow boy Dane Swan kicked his first across his body, then Chris Dawes marked on the lead and converted, giving the Magpies a 10 goal lead going into half time. This. Is. Madness.

It was set to become even more maddening, with Swan getting a 50m penalty after Ling showed a bit of unwanted biffo. Dane kicked his second, then Brent Macaffer outpointed Josh Hunt in a marking contest, further strengthening the calls for Andrew Mackie to be back out on the field ASAP. B-Mac goaled, followed by a second to Wellingham from the goalsquare, and the margin was out to 81 points. It was Round 9, 2008 all over again. Mathew Stokes showed finesse, dummying around an opponent to kick a much-needed goal for the Cats, and he was met solidly by Tyson Goldsack as he kicked, and the resultant mini-melee would’ve furrowed the brow of Mick Malthouse, not wanting to lose any player through suspension, or a broken jaw, Joel Selwood was looking dangerously Barry Hall-like. Ablett was playing the match of his career, and showed his brilliance, breaking away from a pack of players, running inside 50 before spotting Steve Johnson out of the corner of his eye. He put the ball onto the outside of his right foot; Johnson marked in space and kicked the goal. The genius was at it again, passing to Varcoe who marked and booted his second, and Geelong had three in a row going into the final break with a 61 point deficit.

Cloke silenced his demons once again with a good, accurate kick at goal, producing his third, before Geelong got onto a bit of a roll as Collingwood sided with complacency. Byrnes running into an open goal, Stokes threaded through a great goal from a tight angle, James Podsiadly booted his first of the evening from a good mark and Brad Ottens drifted forward and got his name in the goalkickers list. Didak got the ball at half forward, and his eyes lit up. He ran forward, dodged past a player, and looked towards goal, wanting to dob it on the run from outside 50. But as a sign of how things have changed in the man, he passed to Sidebottom, who gathered and dribbled through his second. Premiership football from a soon-to-be premiership player. Jimmy Bartel capped off another good night with his first goal, but as the rants of ‘COOOOLLLLIIIINGGGWOOOOOOOOODDD!’ filled the MCG, you knew the siren was near and that the army were about to explode into hysteria.

The empire has crumbled.

Collingwood 7.2—13.7—16.11—18.12.120

Geelong 1.1—3.5—6.10—11.13.79


Collingwood-Cloke 3, Pendlebury 2, Swan 2, Wellingham 2, Sidebottom 2, Didak, Dawes, Macaffer, Johnson, L Brown, Beams, Thomas

Geelong-Varcoe 2, Stokes 2, Byrnes 2, Mooney, Bartel, Ottens, Podsiadly, Johnson


Collingwood-Pendlebury, Swan, L Brown, Johnson, Didak, Thomas, Reid, Cloke

Geelong-Ablett, Bartel, Ling, Chapman, Kelly, Johnson, Byrnes


95,241 at the MCG


3: Gary Ablett (G)

2: Scott Pendlebury (COLL)

1: Dane Swan (COLL)

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.


  1. John Butler says:


    It wasn’t that Plugga pig by any chance?

  2. Ahahaha JB, good one.

    It was actually a kid my age dressed up in a pink, fluffy pig suit collecting donations for a charity. The kid then went into the butcher, not a safe place for him dressed up as oinky!

  3. Josh, im sure i can also talk for Susie in saying how sweet your concern for us was, even though you sided with Geelong *does face of disapproval* Lol
    The good news is im stoked and Susie is an amazing footy supporter, being able to take it as she did. She’s right though, all Geelong supporters should be so proud of what their team has accomplished.
    Great piece Josh.


  4. Jake 'Cobba' Stevens says:

    Nice one Josh,
    Yeah I agree. It is true to all those Geelong supporters is to realize what a fantastic run that they all have. And that we should be very scared of Collingwood for a while yet!


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