AFL Finals — Week 1: Deja vu all over again for Pies fans

By John Ramsdale
Father’s Day saw Yarra Park full of fathers in new socks, jocks and aftershave making their way to the ground with their families in tow. The Piesemist was his usual self as we went to meet our daughters who were still a bit more optimistic about our chances than we were. We reminisced about the days when we were at school in East Melbourne and this car park was where we had our weekly school football games. It would be an OH&S case if kids were asked to play there today. We were also haunted by the ghosts of finals past as we trudged across the park.  I spotted TAFKATBM in the distance looking very grim and determined. He was wearing shorts on a cool, overcast and swirly day.  I felt very wimpish in my overcoat. I hate to think what the look on his face was like after the game.
Last year during the Global Financial Crisis we saw the impact that a lack of confidence can have on the performance of the stock market and the world economy. In the past couple of weeks we have seen what can happen when a football team loses its confidence. We had a great run for most of the season, but against the Dogs we appeared flat and players who had been doing very well throughout the year appeared to be struggling, Jack Anthony’s kicking for goal being a prime example. The signs were not good, as the Dogs’ backline controlled the play. Perhaps we had been lulled into a false sense of security about how good we actually were. The elephant in the room was the fact that we had only played Geelong and St Kilda once and that was a long time ago.

It would be too depressing to go through the game quarter by quarter, so here are some general comments. The game began ominously with St Kilda getting all of the possessions and Koshitzke looking dangerous. Leigh Brown reminds me of the Beach Boys’ song Heroes and Villains (apologies to our younger readers). He can be both, often in the same quarter. After a slow start, though, he became one of our better players.  Halfway through the first quarter, Collingwood became the hunters rather than the hunted.  Travis Cloke was taking marks, some on the half-back flank, if that position still exists, but he was moving well and looking good. We put the pressure on St Kilda and they were making mistakes. The spirits rose. Optimism began to creep in, thoughts of a week off, Grand Final parades, booking the tattoo parlour for the “Floreat Pica Society, Collingwood Premiers 2009” tattoos started entering my head and I thought, perhaps … This mood continued into the early parts of the second quarter. Then came Riewoldt’s purple patch and there was nothing we could do to beat him.
Collingwood look tired and well below the standard of their last two opponents.  Their confidence was gone towards the end especially when it came to kicking for goal as players passed it off to players in worse positions rather than have a shot at goal themselves.
As half-time came mercifully, I wrote down “floodgates”. The feeling was that we were about to be run over. In the second half, they were too big, too strong, too disciplined, too well-coached and they used the ball too well. However, we were not thrashed and with 20 minutes to go the Piesemist uncharacteristically said, “We are only four goals down, then, but we have only kicked five”.
The Collingwood supporter next to me summed up the difference between the two teams, “Riewoldt gets it delivered in front of his eyes, our forwards get dribbles”.
Let’s hope that they can regroup for Adelaide. Our record against them is good, but without Pendelbury the midfield lacks a bit of class. The coach has a big task on his hands.

Some points:
•    Too many players who have had very good seasons chose this game to have their worst game for the season
•    Brad Scott has been replaced by Tim Holding and John Della Bosca. They are in charge of poor decision-making. They have been  very successful
•    Too many shots at goal again were from the pocket.
•    We need goal-kicking practice. Not every goal has to be a goal of the year contender dribbled from the pocket.
•    Harry kept Milne very quiet and we didn’t have to put up with his antics
•    We have probably seen the last of Anthony Rocca
•    $10 for the Record is ridiculous. I hope the recycling bin was full of unsold copies
•    The withdrawal of Dick meant there were no opportunities for Benny Hill moments in the report.
•    Leon Davis needs a great finals game next week, otherwise memories of other dismal finals may come back
•    We were outplayed and yet we were not thrashed on the scoreboard
•    How can you expect a bean-pole like Josh Fraser to ruck virtually all day against two giants  like King and Gardiner?
•    The Baden Powell in Victoria Parade has been tarted up and has re-opened so Floreat Pica members can meet and dissect the game.

The Billy Picken Medal for the best performance in a beaten finals side goes to:

The best player !!!

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