2002 – A Magpie Memory

By Eleni Donnelly

It’s 2012 and Collingwood seem to be headed for another Grand Final appearance… again! In 2002 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. A few weeks after she was born I was sitting at Crown watching Collingwood v Adelaide. I had a breast pump with me. I was so excited we won on the day, assuring ourselves of a place in the GF, I completely forgot I had the breast pump in my jacket pocket and when I went to the toilet … well it fell in the toilet bowl. Bye bye breast pump.

On the day of the GF I was at a pub with my daughter’s Dad (an avid Essendon supporter and Collingwood hater). I was so excited and hoped for a Magpie win. My daughter would forever be able to say ‘my team (because she was always going to grow up with Collingwood as her number one) won the GF the year I was born”.

But somewhere in the third quarter came that feeling. The one filled with dread. Even though they were coming back I knew it wasn’t going to happen for Collingwood … again. My daughter’s Dad looked at me and asked: ‘Why so glum? They could actually win this, they’re coming back.’ He nearly choked on his words – so great was his hate for the black and white.

And then in the fourth quarter a flicker of hope emanated from the depths of a place I didn’t even know existed. Oh god, we could actually win this. It might just happen. Please please let it happen. But of course there had to be a controversial umpiring decision not in Collingwood’s favour. My happy place shut shop and I knew it was over. And as the final siren went I along with Licuria, Malthouse and all the rest of the black and white team broke down in tears.

Even the ‘Essendon loving I hate Collingwood so much I wish the whole team would disappear’ man who stood next me hugged me and said ‘I am sorry’. And my pain was so great that he actually meant it.

And now again we are in the finals. My daughter wears her Collingwood top and beanie as we sit and watch the games. We were ok with the Hawthorn loss – for me it means that there’s a very good chance we are going to the big one again. Go Pies!


  1. It was a tense GF. Of course it was very silly of Rocca to kick the ball so high.

  2. Beautiful piece, Eleni. Actually I don’t think we lost because of the poor umpiring decison. We lost because of about ten minutes of dominant play by Voss supported by Akermanis. I didn’t cry because I thought we had lots of good young players and were well placed to improve those extra two goals and win the 2003 flag.

    As we now know, injuries, suspensions and some strange selection decisions left us with a team in the 2003 Grand Final that included two players who should never have played in an AFL Grand final (Ben Kinnear and Tristan Walker) and another playing in a position he had not played in all season (Jason Cloke at Centre Half Forward) The disasterous result was the end of our premiership hopes for half a decade.

    The lesson I learnt was to assume that each chance at a Premiership might be the last. I will barracking hard tonight and for as long as we are a chance. Go Pies.

  3. Great stuff Eleni. It’s amazing how memories can intersect and run parallel with sport. That emotion in 2002 was raw and real because it meant so much to so many, despite our detachment from the inner sanctum. I guess you could say that this one of the reasons that footy and specifically Collingwood have been my theatre over the years.

    Dave, if we can get through tonight we might make another GF. But, I don’t think I could stand losing to Hawthorn. It was bad enough getting done by Geelong last year. Maybe an honorable prelim loss to Sydney is the best option in 2012.

  4. Eleni Donnelly says

    I know Dave. But the umpiring decision didn’t help my emotions or behaviour at the time. Akermanis played brilliantly as did Voss. It was a great GF and Brisbane wanted it so much more – or so it seemed.

    Here’s to no losses. Just wins! Ah, the Collingwood hope.

    Thanks for your comments everyone.

  5. Peter Schumacher says

    One more comment! As a one eyed Lion’s bloke I watched a DVD of that Grand Final yesterday. How that last goal or Rocca’s was called a point is beyond me, and no replays???!!! Will never work that out.

    I reckon that the rub of the ball wasn’t with Brisbane that day all the same, to me they would have been unlucky to lose.

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