AFL Prelim Finals: Pies’ loss hurts like hell

By Paul Fahey

Well …  I have sat down a few times to write the report but until this morning I could not really muster the energy or enthusiasm to really revisit the match! On Sunday, as I have done following previous finals losses, I chose to not really communicate with the outside world – no answering the phone, no newspaper analysis. I actually found myself listening to the entire back catalogue of The Church, turned up as loud as I could now that I am a respectable 40+ gentleman as opposed to the rebellious teen I was on first listening!

“And it’s so easy to hurt me now
And you’ve forgotten anyhow
That certain ideas
Have changed through the years
I purchased some tears just to see me through
But you know I never wanted to
Ah, you know I did it just for you”
– Steve Kilbey, Just For You (1982)

Yes – it all helped to make sense of the disappointment of a finals loss where we played far below what we are capable of … anyway, back to the game.

I thought that we were a chance to take on the Cats with a decent recent record against them and following the high of last week’s last-gasp win. Sure they were at full strength but if we played our best and got a few breaks then we were in it.

I was a bit disappointed when I heard that Pendles was out …  I sort of expected it, but he is our class player. He is the one who can get a meaningful possession in tight, he is the one who hands it out to Swanny or Dids, or Leon, he is the one who can always seem to find time and settle it down when we are under pressure.

We started really well – hard at it, clean, and in the first 10 minutes played all over the top of them. Goals to Benny and Harry hid the fact that the forwards were not getting on the scoreboard but in an instant the game changed. Geelong took control for the rest of the quarter and we were lucky not to be further down at quarter-time.

I thought our second quarter was all right where we had 9 scoring shots to 5 but bad kicking is bad football. Swanny kicked 0.2 and Leigh Brown, who looked like our only forward, kicked 1.2 from five gettable shots. In contrast the Cats were accurate and kicked straight from near 50m and on tight angles.  Next year I am all in favour of giving the high altitude training a miss and spending three weeks exclusively on kicking for goal – I wonder if the increase in accuracy would make up for a decrease in overall fitness?

The second half is not worth writing about – they were too good, we were tired and out of form. We kicked 4 goals after the 10-minute mark of the first quarter – you don’t win under-11 matches doing that let alone AFL prelims!

In summary we basically fell out of form at the wrong end of the year!! Our forwards ceased to function – Medhurst, Anthony, Dick, Cloke, Davis all struggling to have any real contribution over the last six games. We also have to get the ruck position right – Fraser’s injury was significant but whether he would have outrucked Ottens is debatable. It is just extremely difficult to win clearances against quality midfields when you are guessing where they are going to tap it!

The fact that O’Bree had a game-high eight clearances speaks volumes for his game and football brain! Question marks still remain over some players in big games but I will leave it to others to sink the boots in here – as I said earlier, I think Pendles’ role in tight is underplayed by the public and media and that when you lose that, your outside runners lose supply.

My father, Kev, used to say it is better to lose a final by a fair margin than a few points as you then sit down and make changes because you are under no illusion that you are good enough. Let’s hope that that is the case in the off-season analysis – I don’t think that we are that far away but we need a few changes either to the list or structure to take the next step.

I was asked yesterday who I will barrack for in the Grand Final. I always find this a bizarre question as I can’t barrack for anyone else, but at the moment I don’t care who wins. I hate St Kilda because of the John Greening incident (should I be over this by now??) and I am sick of cocky Geelong supporters so I feel as though it’s a no-win game!

The one thing for certain is that they have been the best two teams all year and we have not come close to either of them so they deserve to be there.

As for our year there are a lot of positives to build on and it is important to look forward rather than back. As for the disappointment of another finals loss, it hurts but I love barracking for Collingwood, I love going to the footy with my sons decked out in their Collingwood gear, and we will be there screaming in Round 1 next year!

Side by Side We Stick Together!

Floreat Pica.


  1. A great report by my bro Paul, I agree with much of what he has said.

    A list of our goalkickers during September is enlightening (for a start there are only 25 goals kicked in 3 matches !) :

    3 – Benny J
    2 – L Brown, Macaffer, Tarkyn, Rocca, Jack, Thomo, Dick & Harry (yes, I finally get a chance to use that line)
    1 – Didak, Wellingham, Swan, Cloke, Medhurst, Davis

    A couple of brighter notes :

    – I seem to remember another side being pilloried after being annihilated in a preliminary final last year – not good enough for top four, exposed, can’t see them going ahead. Their name is St Kilda, this season they have lost 2 games and on Saturday they play off for a flag. They learnt from their September 2008 humiliations and improved. It is possible, as your deficiencies are laid out in front of you when you play the other four best teams over four weeks.

    – Three first year players played in the two prelim finals on the weekend – all for the Pies, as well as three second-year and three third-year players – a very young team that got invaluable experience. Last year after the successful Adelaide final I wrote ” Both went well last week, but one of the history lessons of finals footy is that it’s harder for the young blokes to come up again the week after a good first final than to get up for the first one.” Ditto in 2009. I’m incredibly disappointed that Clarke didn’t play any of the finals. The size of the Geelong bodies compared with our blokes was notable, much of which can be attributed to having more games (and thus pre-seasons) in them.

    I think that our list is OK – the good form of the seconds indicates that we have depth, but not enough class and leadership at the top of the list. Re trades – the key point is always not who you are prepared to get rid of, but what you can get for them. What currency would Josh have, would Leon have ? Generally the younger blokes have more currency, this year may be different with the Gold Coast imminent. Can’t believe that some are talking up getting Taz back – how was his form in big games ? How was his off-field record ?

    Finally I hope that we play Carlton in the first three weeks of 2010 while The Juddster is suspended !!!

  2. Paul

    re the music

    Maybe Slayer (God Hates Us All perhaps?) might have picked the pace up a little.

    A certain English philosopher did once suggest that anger was an energy.


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