AFL Finals Week 1 – Collingwood v Port Adelaide: Why is a raven like a writing-desk?

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

It’s a curious day. People of Australia vote today, supposedly for the local candidate that best meets their needs. But we’ve grown out of that mentality in the Big City. Now we vote for leaders who inspire us. Or something. I’m on the bike. Off to offer the good people some advice in how to cast their vote.

Nothing feels real. Like I’m on the set of a movie. The Merri Creek trail in Fawkner offers panoramic views of prickly pear such as I’ve not seen for decades. Dogs are off leads along the bike track. Collisions are heroically avoided. But I get the sense that I’m watching myself. Am I really here? Where is here? Have I gone down the rabbit hole?

Shift at the polling booth over, I’m flicking on the TV to watch the last quarter from Geelong. Hmm. Is today really happening? Why is a raven like a writing-desk?

Our planned dinner guests ring to cancel, having been struck down by that boomer spring illness that’s crippling families of suburban Melbourne. I consider buying a ticket and popping in to the G. But no, tonight has a blurry-edged surreal portent about it. Everything is lining up, to be sure. I can feel it. But everything is upside down. No, we’ll flick between Kerrie’s election coverage and the G. It’ll be cathartic.

This match starts as a good one. The elimination nature adds that frission to everything. Actions have consequences. Jamie Elliott misses a gettable shot from 30m and I’m wondering about the costliness even before Port run the length of the ground, Westhoff out-bodies Maxwell and serenely snaps the first goal.

Port are tackling hard. They are running hard. J Schultz marks strongly & goals. Seagulls everywhere. Now D Swan misses his set shot from 30. Grundy is bullocking, but doing so like a bullock on its hind legs, using a pogo stick. D Swan slots a set shot from the Millane 1990 pocket. Beams is on the bottom of packs. Suddenly, through the fuzziness, it’s quarter time.

1QT 1.4 to 2.4.

The Cheshire Cat grandly stops by for the opening of the second. Westhoff is at the fall of the ball and makes a goal. H Shaw shows sufficient ill-discipline to gift A Monfries one of those unfulfilling goals where the attacking team get two goals in two kicks. It’s a stiff penalty. And the C cat stands to applaud as J Schultz takes an old fashioned screamer. Port are playing great footy. It’s 1 to 5.

Then M Williams bags one against the run of play for the Woods. J Elliott is gifted a shot at goal, but inexplicably passes it off to Beams who gets smashed. Wingard takes a grab at the other end. It’s tight. Port have a loose one back covering Collingwood’s marking forwards. But Cloke crumbs one and slots it. Beams is in & under, in & under. And again. Beams shovels it out to Macaffer. Goal. It’s 4-5

Lots of scrappy gang-tackling in Port’s forward line.

Port grunt it forward to an UNMANNED Wingard. A raven? A writing-desk?

HT 4.6 to 6.6

Third quarter. Keefe marks and goals after a period of manic footy in the Collingwood forward half. This is looking better. The tacklesmotherchasetackle is back. Beams is in and under. It bears repeating.

More sustained forward line pressure. Swan goals. He’s lively. It’s level. 6-6.

D Swan reads the play yet again, somehow before everyone else. He goals. Woods are in front. 7-6.

It’s all in the Woods’ half. But Port breaks out. It’s open and Wingard marks, kicks a set shot. It’s 7-7. Wines nails a beaut set shot after a fluffed defensive kick from the Woods. 7-8. The game is open again. The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon play a smiling game of Uno in my loungeroom. 3QT 7.7 to 8.9.

Last quarter. Elimination final. Beams goals in 35 seconds. I reckon no one has worked harder. It’s 8-8. Cloke roves a beauty and we all get to visit the circus of video review. It’s a goal. 9-8.

It’s a Collingwood rolling maul now. But, ahh, now Port are on the break.

The game has changed suddenly. It’s more open.

It feels like Port have the game in their reach.

Boak grubs a goal from a ball up. And now Port are 9-9 but in front with 7 minutes to go. Snap goal. Port are full of running. It’s 9-10. Broadbrent misses a running shot, but Wingard roves it in the square. 9-11. It’s over. And now Schultz marks and goals after an end-to-end move from Port. I’m watching the scene and I’m watching this whole day and the events of the whole day but I feel removed. Am I here?

FT 9.9.63 to 12.15.87

The scoreboard says that this nifty and adaptable Port team march on. Port will play Geelong next week, to decide who will meet Hawthorn. And Collingwood is out. Right now would be a grand point at which to wake up and be told that Saturday is about to begin. …Or now.  …Or howabout now? …Or even now?   Failing that, why is a raven like a writing-desk?

‘ “Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.

“Nor I,” said the March Hare.’

– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


COLLINGWOOD 1.4 4.6 7.7 9.9 (63)

PORT ADELAIDE 2.4 6.6 8.9 12.15 (87)


GOALS: Collingwood: D Swan 3 T Cloke 2 B Macaffer D Beams L Keefe M Williams.

Port Adelaide: C Wingard 3 J Schulz 3 O Wines 2 T Boak 2 A Monfries J Westhoff.

BEST: Collingwood: D Swan, D Beams

Port Adelaide: Wingard, Ebert


Umpires: Chris Donlon, Jeff Dalgleish, Scott Jeffery.

Official Crowd: 51,722 at MCG.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Well summarised DW. I was cheering madly for Port, but kept thinking “surely Collingwood will wake up soon”. Apparently all the Collingwood team except Swan and Beams thought the same thing.
    Heath Shaw is now my most disliked footballer in the AFL. He has been in the top 6 for some time, but throwing the ball into Monfries face after the half time siren decided it. He can be such a good footballer. Why??
    At least Zac Dawson has the excuse of lacking talent for being all knees and elbows.

  2. PB, thanks a lot.
    I notice that shrinking violet Tony Shaw is forecasting a clean out of the playing list. Nephew Heath named.
    Behavioural psychology would make a good case for dropping his arse from a great height.
    Would it make a difference? To him, maybe.
    To collingwood and team culture, definitely.

    I’m torn between embracing a hard line behaviour/ consequences model & the “everyone’s entitled to a second chance model.” Is the ninth chance still considered a second chance?

  3. A ripping read as always, DW.

  4. Well I’ve still not woken up.
    It’s been a fairly elaborate dream to this point.
    Ready now.

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