AFL Round 1- Collingwood v Fremantle: Fairytale of Sandy Point

Shane: I could have been someone.
Kirsty: Well so could anyone. You took my dreams from me, when I first found you…
The Pogues, Fairytale of New York

It’s a summer’s day in Melbourne town. Children slapping on the 30+ before school. Hats are on. Yet the footy starts tonight.
Nothafagus cunninghammi and I are off today on a holiday. Celebrating ten years of marriage. Kids will stay with grandparents for five nights while we slip away to South Gippsland.
We’re on the road and through the dual carriageway country soon enough. The South Gippsland highway is a ripper road. Big sweeping bends through rolling green hills. Often a sprinkling of rain. Not today. Bright sunshine and pothole after pothole present their own hazards.

Stopping for provisions at Leongatha, I’m loitering adjacent to the deli in the IGA supermarket.
– How are you, darl? Can I help you?
I look into the warm eyes of the deli attendant. Big smile.
– Nah. I’m just waiting.
– Just yell if you need any help, darl.
Outside a sign declares Leongatha IGA the national winner of Best Store in 2011. I’m not surprised.

We’re on the beach at Sandy Point and it’s late in the day. Nippers are gathered for surfing lessons. The beach is glorious. Sun low in the western sky. Big washy breakers. Mount Oberon and the Prom off to the east.
– This must be one of the best beaches in the world, says N.cunninghammii. It’s an understatement.

We’re cooking up some IGA spuds and steaks in a holiday house after an outdoor shower. Brilliant.
It’s a summer routine. Yet the footy starts tonight.

Neither of us ever really intended to get married. For N.cunninghammii it was an active decision NOT to do so. Yet within ten months of meeting we were indeed married. Who knows how or why these things happen?

New captain (in name perhaps only) S Pendlebury slots the season’s first goal in the second minute.
I’m cooking dinner in the open plan kitchen. But I’m finding that following footy is much different to following Test cricket. I turn my back to finish the steaks and it’s quarter time.

Collingwood 2.4.16
Fremantle 2.3.15

Sit cross-legged on the floor for dinner. A B.McCaffer cock-up leads to a Freo goal. Ah well.
Fremantle skip out to 18 point lead. They’re taking their chances. More decisive with the ball. Collingwood hesitant.
Nick Maxwell errs in taking possession on the back flank and is wrapped up. Leads to a Nat Fyfe goal. In froth and bubble.

It’s Boag’s with Leongatha IGA hedgehog now and N.cunninghammii has drifted off to play candy crush on the iPad. Ten years ago I when I presented her with a Collingwood scarf, she declared her blood to run black and white. That may be true, but it bears no relation to her level of interest in footy (zero).
The Dockers are full of running and impressively full of scoring. The game is more open than a 2013 Freo game. They are dominating.
Tricky for the Woods here. To haul them in, they should bottle up the game for a while. But that’s Freo bread and butter.
I may play candy crush soon, too.

Half time.
Collingwood 2.8.20
Fremantle 8.7.56

Tune in to some local cricket finals email news during the break. Further evidence that footy had encroached too far into summer.
N.cunninghammii is onto an episode of Homeland on the laptop. We’re celebrating our anniversary tonight by celebrating our differences. And that’s important.

The third quarter is on. How will Collingwood get back? A frustrating passage of footy sees the Woods skirting the ground side to side with indirect possession. Like basketballers throwing the ball around the key. From the resultant behind, Freo go end to end in three kicks for a goal to H. Ballantyne. Mzungo another. It’s a public flogging. Very impressive.

It’s 23-80 now. Lumumba is being called tonight, with Harry O’Brien changing his name over the summer.
I’m ready to stop watching now.

Our wedding was held on 04/04/04 at 4pm. At the time, we thought it excellent to have our 40th anniversary on 4/4/44. Hard to credit that 10 years have (almost) ticked over.
It’s three quarter time.
Collingwood 3.13.31
Fremantle 14.10.94

N.cunninghammii has a movie lined up. And while celebrating differences is important, so too is celebrating shared interests. So it’s happily goodbye Collingwood and Freo, hello “Blue Jasmine.”

Cate Blanchett dazzles and San Francisco shines and only at the end do I check for the grizzly details. And it’s evidentially Very well done, Fremantle FC.

Collingwood 5.16.46
Fremantle 17.14.116

Tomorrow we’ll swim. We’ll read. We’ll cook. On Monday we’ll walk to the South Point lighthouse at Wilson’s Prom. Even after a Round 1 thumping, there are still fairytales all over the place.

“Shane: …I kept them with me, babe. I put them with my own. Can’t make it all alone; I built my dreams around you.”
The Pogues, Fairytale of New York.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. 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. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Very nice work E. Surely the Pies aren’t that bad? Though I have a mate who doesn’t have them in his top 8. He finalised his top 8 at half time on Friday night!
    Freo look to have gone up a few notches. And Ballantyne didn’t kick anything off his shins like he did multiple times in the GF.
    I reckon Pav will play about 12 games. General soreness will be quite regular for him.

  2. Thanks ER. Trust this writing caper isn’t getting in the way of hot tub and sparkling shiraz time.

    I had the Pies ninth, and happy to leave them there. That was not a game that mattered too much to the Pies. Freo is the real deal. It’s Collingwood v Adelaide, Essendon, Carlton et al that will decide the eight.

    I don’t think Dane Swan will last the season. He was in a weird space on The Footy Show two weeks ago. He will become a scapegoat.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great report OBP agree with Harmsy above the woods are competing for a spot in the bottom half of the 8 . Freo will be top 4 the only game Ballantyne and others can redeem themselves in is a GF . Tonights game is the 1st so called 8 point game of teams competing for the last couple of spots
    Thanks ER back to the spa

  4. DBalassone says

    Forget about the result, the main thing is Bucks has moulded these young men into better human beings.

  5. David Zampatti says

    Yes, I think they are very fine young men. Almost, um, delicately so.

    Perhaps that’s why your man NJ Brown’s outburst at having a kick paid against him was “Oh My God!”, and S Pendelbury, the captain I believe, went one better shortly afterwards with “Seriously? Oh my God!”.

    To each his own, I guess, but if you’re going to have a spaz attack, somehow “He punched me in the nuts!!” has a more sort of footy-ish ring to it.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Boags with Leongatha IGA Hedgehog sounds great. The Pies were bad. But one game doesn’t make a season. Remember a round 1 flogging in 1990 and a terrible flogging early in 2010 against a Ross Lyon coached team at Etihad. Those seasons turned out pretty bloody good.
    Well done on 10 years of marriage. A great effort by two tall trees!

  7. E.regnans says

    G’day all,
    thanks a lot.
    Back in the big smoke now, with well worn bodies and minds – brilliant walk to the lighthouse via Waterloo Bay.
    This game and its result now seem like vestiges from another time and another world.
    Go pies.

  8. Matthew McCabe says

    Sounds like a great way to celebrate 10 years big fella. I remember a chance meeting of you two while I was dining in Lygon St (would have been 2003 I guess – pretty sure it was Tiamo). Time flies. Enjoy the next 30!

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