Here’s something I wrote in December 2009. Some interesting predictions here, some of which were pretty damn close. Hope you like it.
So it’s like this, I love the Collingwood Football Club whether we’re riding the ladder from the top, or propping up 15, 16 or 17 other AFL teams. I’ve sat back and waved to a couple of delistings, watched the trade period and draft with interest, I’ve witnessed a new coaching structure with Bucks joining the club with the promise of taking over as senior coach in a couple of years, and read the odd article or two about the Pies getting their Jolly’s and Ball’s. I think I’ve absorbed enough now to put my observations and thoughts in words.
The Immediate Future
We’ve sold our souls to the devil during trade and draft weeks. We’ve taken a calculated risk and welcomed a couple of quality players to the club, but in doing so we’ve all but worked ourselves out of the draft, using our three picks to secure a 28 and a 25 year old. Sure, they’re both great players and will add an immediate extra dimension to the club, but what happens in two or three years when we need to top up with young talent again? I believe Collingwood will find one maybe two delistings in the next day or so, providing us with an option to pick up one or two kids who have been considered unlucky not to be drafted. What other choice do we have, really? Mick needs to understand that to win a premiership you not only need a great group of players and a playing list with depth, but you need hope and optimism for the future, and that typically comes when new, young and fresh draftees join the club. In a way, Mick has to look to the future to take care of the now.
Tell me, how do we fit three ruckman into the one team when the club has a history of playing just one through much of 2009? We invested a high draft pick on Cameron Wood, a move which is just now beginning to pay off because he’s been getting some game time. Darren Jolly is now on board and he is clearly the best ruck option at the club and will demand a place in the senior side all season. Some might argue that Josh Fraser is a better centre half forward or full forward maybe, but let’s not forget he’s been a great ruckman for the club and when fit, he’s one of the league’s best. To not play Cameron Wood would be a crime and a waste, to not play potentially the league’s best ruckmen in Jolly would be a hanging offence, and to leave Josh out of the team would be crazy. However, can you imagine Josh starting at centre half forward, Jolly in the ruck, and Wood on the bench. A triple ruck-forward-full-forward rotation….good luck managing this one Mick.
A Couple of Years Time
As I see it, in three to four years time the Pies will not have enough talent to remain a top eight side. Winning a premiership within the next couple of years, quite obviously Mick’s sole focus, wont change this. As supporters, we’ll certainly embrace a premiership followed by a couple of years out of the eight, but to not win a Premiership and then languish towards the bottom of the ladder, harnessing a sub-standard and aging list, fewer quality picks available in a compromised draft, and no hope on the horizon….shoot me now.
Now I’m certainly not the first to suggest this but I genuinely think it’s going to happen. 2010 – Mick Malthouse, 2011 – Nathan Buckley. If Mick doesn’t win a premiership next season, and there’s even a hint of the team having a worse year than 2009, goodbye Mick. This will be driven by the supporters more so than the club. Mick will go early.
Five Years Time
With Nathan Buckley’s young and enthusiastic list, the Pies are starting to show some promise. Those players with a couple of years under the belt are becoming more consistent performers and realising their potential. They’re being likened to the much maligned Dale Thomas who in 2010 cut his hair, justified his early draft selection, and silenced his critics finishing fourth in the Brownlow and gaining All-Australian selection. Taking his game to yet another level, and in his second year of Captaincy, Pendles wins the AFL coaches award and new respect from his peers. Assistant Coach (and Senior Coach in waiting) Gavin Brown lauds the performance of the leagues best backline, and in an emotional farewell, thanks Nick Maxwell for his dedication to the club and congratulates him on retiring on a high, in the same year the Pies win the Flag. James Clement joins the board and the media buzz is that he will be the next Collingwood President or CEO.
Outside the club, the media remember Caro’s contribution to the industry…who would have thought she would be sacked from her position in 2011 and take up a position reading the weather on ABC Late News. Mike Sheahan, also leaving his media role for reasons not disclosed, joins Tim Lane on Plenty Valley FM commentating local DVFL games. New AFL CEO, Dermott Brereton relaxes tribunal guidelines, much to the criticism of past rules committee members like Kevin Bartlett (who turned to acting, playing Gollum in a new Peter Jackson blockbuster). Gary Lyon, Melbourne coach of three years and 2013 premiership runners up extends his coaching contract for three more years, as the Demons strive to regain their 2012 premiership winning form.
Carlton Football Club, after again being heavily penalised for breaching salary cap conditions, languish at the bottom of the ladder for a third straight year whilst Michael Voss’s disappointing coaching career abruptly ends, being sacked by new club president Daniel Bradshaw.