AFL Round 1 – Collingwood v Fremantle: Ballantyne gets the chocolates


Alan Stewart

I was off to the season opener, thanks to free tickets from work. This meant entry via corporate gate 4 was a breeze, no queue, and they didn’t ask to check my backpack. My cousin-in-law was a bit late, thanks Metro, so as we took our seats it seemed right in front of us Pendlebury ran into a wide open 50 arc and dribbled a goal through, the first score of the match. The reaction of the surrounding crowd made it sound like 100% Collingwood. Later observation made the reality only about 90%.

Our seats were on level 2, between aisles 42 and 43, basically right on the southeastern 50 m arc. I didn’t spot which player scored Collingwood’s first point. A 50 m penalty came early, probably from a too close to kicker infringement. It was the Pavlich free later which annoyed the crowd the most up to that point. Both sides were frantically playing on. Fyfe tried to take on one player, then another, and one more, before being pinged and the free awarded against, fair enough. The first quarter ends with Collingwood 1 point up.

There are numerous empty seats in our section of the crowd, and I wonder what the crowd will be. I estimate 25 000, but it will be more if all the empty level 2 seats are counted as ‘sold’. It’s pretty humid inside the ground with the roof closed, and it feels reasonably warm. Numerous surrounding spectators have removed jumpers and coats and draped them over adjacent vacant seats. I don’t see the temperature announced at all. The digital clock stays permanently on the time as far as I can tell, never shifting to show the temperature. While on the subject of displays, the bottom of the scoreboard at the Lockett end has been configured to display information thusly:


I seem to recall that the clock used to be on the left. Can any readers confirm this? It could just be my poor recollection. The annoying Toyo Tires advertising down the Coventry end continues to warp the minds of young spellers, sort of like the ‘hellow yellow’ last decade advertising.

I confide to my cousin that Fremantle will need to blow it open in the second quarter, and they duly do. At 23:20 in this quarter Fremantle hit 7 7 49. I’m always intrigued when that score comes up, as it is one of the few, and probably the most common, where multiplying the goals and behinds together also gives you the correct total, as 7 × 7 = 49. Soon after came a particular highlight as at 25:49 Ballantyne completes a party trick snap goal, and earns the chocolates in my title. (I wonder if I have to explain here that Ballantynes are a chocolate brand name? Is it a Victorian thing or known around Australia?)

The third quarter started with Grundy in the ruck for Collingwood. I’m not sure I recall him taking that role before. At 10:10 Cloke takes his first mark to Bronx cheers. There is an exciting 3 kick coast-to-coast goal by Fremantle. I’ll have to watch that on the highlights. The scoreboard at one point listed the ‘last 10 goals’ and the bottom row went all purple. This continued up to 12 goals in a row, a real purple patch for Freo. 18:49 saw the Collingwood sub announced, Clarke going off and Kennedy starting.

Mind you I was more excited about Collingwood getting a point when Pavlich punched it through at 15:30 to tick their score over to 2 12 24. It was another of the scores where multiplication works (2 × 12 = 24) and I’d never seen it happen where 2 examples occurred in a match before! Whooohooo! I think the others are 3 × 9 = 27 and 4 × 8 = 32, and they have to be scored by the different teams, as the four combinations I’ve mentioned are mutually exclusive for the same team in one match.

On the other hand peak crowd reaction for the quarter was McCaffer’s goal.

During the three quarter time break, the Fremantle sub is announced, Neale comes on, Fyfe is left on the bench. Fyfe had been good up until then so I hope it’s just resting him, not an injury. The ‘wind guards’ show OPSM is still sponsoring the umpires, a irony I never tire of even after so many years of it. The scoreboard trots out “kiss cam”, pleeeaase noooooo!

Going into the final quarter the prize for ‘best coloured skid mark on a uniform’ goes to Barlow for a fetching blue streak. Fairly quiet for the first bit, then at 12:13 Freo goals, their cheer squad fire up and start a chant. It is noticeable that people are heading for the exits. Walters beats 2 defenders and goals. That bit of play summed up the evening. Later on Young gets his first goal for Collingwood. The attendance is displayed as 37 571. More than I was expecting from a visual reference. By time on level 3 has really thinned out. Soon after it’s the siren and all over, though the result hadn’t been in doubt for the last 40 minutes.

I think there were 2 posters to Collingwood, and 1 to Fremantle.

Not too long to wait for a train home, a bit after 10.30 p.m. from Southern Cross. A fairly subdued travelling crowd, and not much sign of Grand Prix spectators by then.



COLL             FRE

Q1       2.4.16              2.3.15

Q2       2.8.20              8.7.55

Q3       3.13.31            14.10.94

Q4       5.16.46            17.14.116

About Alan Stewart

My first VFL memory is perched on my grandfather's shoulders watching a game at Glenferrie Oval during the school holidays, probably about 1968. Other football immersion is from many hours assisting my father doing maintenance or selling savs at the Tarrawingee football ground during the 1970s.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Grundy has been Collingwoods 1st ruck choice for the end of last year and is now the woods 1st choice quite clearly a huge achievement by a youngster . How he fell to draft choice 18 is a mystery in itself and disgraceful incompetence by clubs recruiters in particular , GWS and Richmond which at least those two clubs have admitted the error and taken steps to improve there recruitment of players from SA in particular

  2. I sat back at the Whittlesea Bowling Club, happilly watching my hard earned $$ on Fremantle winning by more than 39+ points, bring me a nice return. Collingwod looked insipid; no forward line, their ball delivery was poor, a slow back line, and in the ruck, Sandilands had a picnic against the two youngsters. Take away Swan and Pendlebury, there’s not much there. However, it might not have been all gloom and doom for Magpie supporters, as they might have obtained some solace, with their long term rivals from Princess Park, also being rolled by an interstate raider. Maybe a long year for supporters of these two Victorian sides who might crawl into the eight, but iy would be a major suprise if either gets past the first week.


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