AFL Round 1 – Collingwood v Melbourne: Melbourne have a Jolly Ball

by Paul Harkin (with Danny Roach votes by Phil Cornell)

I was looking for some positive omens before the big match and found one in a most unusual place. My new 2010 Collingwood cap told me to wash it in “luke warm water” (without a capital “L”). Despite Darren Jolly having an ordinary game last week, I wondered if he could win the Copeland this year. If so, who was our last winning ruckman? According to that most reliable of sources Wikipedia, it was “Big” Wes Fellowes. I imagined them getting together after the big night and singing there new theme song:

“For we are Jolly and Fellowes,

For we are Jolly and Fellowes,

For we are Jolly and Fellowes,

And so say all of us”

I suspect we’ll have to wait at least another year before this dream can become a reality.

The MCG looked a picture as we took our usual seats in the Olympic Stand. The warm-up looked positive, all was in readiness for a nice little percentage booster, despite the inclusion of “Bustling” Ben Reid.

The game starts and it’s the Demons who take the initiative. They are hard at it, hunting in numbers and showing good pressure early. Collingwood have reverted to bombing and using the boundary. Melbourne are using the corridor and pinpointing their passes. The Maggies look slow. It is hard to pick any winners in the black and white, except Pendlebury and Beams. Petterd is giving Shawie a hard time. We are losing the contested possessions and clearances at quarter time. When are Melbourne going to give up and let us take over?

The second quarter gets underway and things look good early. Clokey kicks one from around 50 and the ball is starting to run our way. We are winning possession early in the quarter, but not scoring. Four unanswered goals and we are on our way. Melbourne are ready to lie down. Sidebottom is sensational beating 2 opponents to setup a goal to Jack, via Beams. Beams also sets up Leon’s goal a minute later. How far the Pies? Benny Johnson goes off in the middle of the quarter, never to return, but what the heck, the Demons have had their fun and can say they had a go for a while. Jolly is not having a great match, but short of putting a saddle on him, Jamar can do what he likes, without giving away a free. Melbourne are using an 18 man zone and Pagan’s paddock and we have struggled to break through.

The Demons come out smoking in the second half. They are committed and we are still waiting for the Demons to relax and let us take over. Last week Hawthorn shut Aaron Davey down, but we are letting him run riot. We have no system and they own the corridor. A goal to Lockyer keeps us in touch. Late goals to Medhurst and Beams sees the momentum shift our way. Surely Melbourne are set to give up now. Five points in front with one quarter to go.

Petterd’s fourth was a bad start to the last quarter. When are they going to crack? Melbourne dominates the early play to stretch their lead to 10 points. One more goal to them and all seems lost. The game turns into an arm wrestle. It’s becoming hard to see where our goals will come from. Out of nowhere Wellingham passes to Jack, but we need a miracle, one more. A scramble of arms and legs ensures and who emerges, but the miracle man himself. Leon steps up and slots a ripper. Three minutes and forty eight seconds to go and we lead by one point. Surely we can break away now and snuff them out. It’s not to be. Despite our attempt to play tempo footy, the Dees won’t go away. The seconds tick away and suddenly they go into attack. Luckily Melbourne kick to a contest and Daisy hacks it away, but they come again. A long kick to the square sees that man, Petterd seemingly alone. Sidey arrives just in time to get a fingernail in there to cause a spill. Heath picks up the crumb as the siren sounds. His desperate handball probably would have been dubbed deliberate, only for the siren.

How did we win? I’ll leave that to the experts, but I suspect we won’t get within koowee of St. Kilda or Hawthorn in the next two weeks without a lift from a lot of players, like Didak, Jolley, Fraser, Shaw.

Votes for the Darren Jolly Medal:

3 – Pendlebury

Twenty-three possessions, 2 goals, 4 clearances, 3 scoring assists, 9 tackles. In a team that struggles to get anything going, he was a consistent contributor.

2- Beams

Beamsie had the 3 votes when I left the ground. After watching the replay, I changed to Pendles. Twenty-seven possessions, spread evenly over the 4 quarters. One of the few midfielders to find space throughout the match. He kicked a critical goal against the run of play in the third quarter and set up 2 others with a few minutes of each other to give us a chance to draw away in the second.

1 – Sidebottom

A couple of great plays when outnumbered got him over the line. Twenty-one possies, 7 tackles. Tried hard in a team that didn’t seem all that switched on.

Paul Harkin

Danny Roach votes – Phil Cornell

Paul Harkin and I crossed the old footbridge with a wife, sister and four kids who wished they brought a footy to kick on the walk from the station. We were confident about the next three hours but sure there’d be a let down after the intense effort of last Sunday. We convinced ourselves that Ben Reid’s inclusion was a reminder to the rest of the team that they’d need to lift by 5% to cover for him.

Paul had his Spirex Notebook and was looking forward to compiling his match report. I was smugly convinced that I would have the easier of the tasks, the awarding of the Danny Roach votes. After all, we were playing Melbourne and there would be no passengers in the side today.?

It didn’t take long for the smile to be wiped off our faces. The Dees played with the intensity we showed last week. Their ability to work effectively in confined spaces reminded me of Ralph Fiennes on a Qantas flight. Just as well they lacked a little finishing class or we might have been further behind early.

The longer the game dragged on the more I was convinced that the easy option would be to wait until Paul Harkin’s match report and then give the votes to the18 players (Ben Johnson aside) he didn’t judge as the three best for the Pies. No shortage of candidates vying for the honour!!!

Twenty-four hours later, it seems to me the main culprits were:

Jack Anthony: Only 4 kicks but what might have saved him were the 5 tackles and the 2 goals including the vital second last one in the final quarter.

Alan Didak: A lazy game. Seemed disinterested and didn’t look like getting the ball. The silly free kick he gave away in front of the Olympic Stand in the 3rd quarter that resulted in a Demon goal really summed up the dog of a day he was having.

Leigh Brown: Set a standard last week that he was always going to struggle to emulate. Only 10 possessions and 1 mark. Was moved back late in the game but the 5 free kicks against was the clincher in my mind.

Josh Fraser: Little impact. Only 6 possessions and 2 marks.

Heath Shaw: There was none of the run he provided last week and he had goals kicked against him by a player many adjudged as best on ground.

Travis Cloke: Again failed to impose himself on the game. Perhaps saved by his 5 tackles and at least he managed 6 marks this week.

Darren Jolly: Only 5 disposals and 2 marks. We were beaten at clearances despite him getting his hands to the ball 24 times. Struggled against Jamar from the start. Needs to do much more around the ground.

After careful consideration, the votes go to:

3 votes: Alan Didak – a shocker (seemed to be in some discomfort at times, but as they say “Once you cross the white line…..”)

2 votes: Leigh Brown – hard to believe he could go from so good to the other extreme in the space of 6 days

1 vote: Heath Shaw – comprehensively beaten all day and his final attempt to take on a tackler in the last minute should have seen the Dees awarded a free kick.

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