AFL Round 10 (FPS): Pies turn it on at the Greensborough RSL

By John Ramsdale

Collingwood 17.12.114 d Port Adelaide 11.10.76

Encouraged by last week’s showing against the Eagles, the inclusion of Thomas and Didak, and the unpredictable form of our opponents, I crossed the MCG car park with some confidence for one of the few times this year. My companion, the Piesemist, was, as usual, less sanguine.

Last Saturday night we had arranged to get together for dinner with our respective partners and watch the game on TV, not realizing that it was on pay-TV, a luxury that neither of us has. Collingwood not being on free-to-air is un-Australian. It was like the old VFL days when there were six games on a Saturday afternoon and your game was broadcast by 3UZ, which sandwiched snippets of the game between every horse race in Australia.

We ended up at the Greensborough RSL, the only ones there. Clearly northern suburb Collingwood supporters have spent their $900 grant on pay TV subscriptions.

I was hoping that the twilight game would not have the same effect as the Monday night game, not just in terms of result, but also the effect that it had on my body clock. After that game I had a week of senior’s moments trying to work out what day it was.

The positive mood was buoyed by an excellent start, a goal through Swan, one of his million possessions for the night. Clearly stung by  recent criticism on this site, the initiative for this goal came from Marty Clarke and Leigh Brown. Port were looking sluggish and Collingwood looked slick with Brown again involved up forward.

Then the lights on Towers 1, 2 and 6 went out and the MCC side of the ground was in semi-darkness. This seemed to coincide with a Power surge on the ground. Someone commented that it was a ploy by the Collingwood coaching staff to ensure that Collingwood could only play one boundary instead of two. Port came back into the game aided by a series of Collingwood clangers and turn-overs by Dale Thomas, who was struggling to get into the game, Heath Shaw, Dane Swan, Josh Fraser (you have to wonder how fit he is) and inexplicably Scott Pendelbury twice.

This series of turn-overs became infectious and Port took full advantage of it, kicking at least three of their goals from our mistakes. Their confidence was growing and it looked like it was going to another one of those nights. Collingwood was getting plenty of possessions, with Shane O’Bree working hard and reaching the forward line, but the delivery to the forwards was inaccurate and haphazard. A mistake by one of the Cornes in the goal square allowed Tarkyn Lockyer to scramble a goal just before quarter time. We had had most of the play but were 13 points down

The statistics came up on the scoreboard. Errors, Collingwood 13 Port Adelaide 21. It was hard to reconcile with what we had seen. Suzy, the Piesemist’s daughter, commented that “It has been a comedy of errors; not a good comedy like Fawlty Towers but more a lousy comedy like Two and a Half Men.”

The second quarter continued the same theme with turn overs from Thomas, Fraser and Pendelbury, who was a shadow of his normal self. It looked like it was going to be another game lost through failure to take advantage of our opportunities. Port looked good and went to a 3 goal lead well into the quarter. Two quick goals to Jack Anthony who along with Leon had been very quiet. The impetus for these goals came from the backline, Heath Shaw, Nick Maxwell, Harry O’Brien, Shannon Cox and Alan Toovey provided plenty of run. Steele Sidebottom continued to impress with his skills and his tackling and Brad Dick and Sharred Wellingham were winning plenty of clearances. With no obvious opponent, Swan just kept collecting possessions.  Collingwood were playing with a lot more confidence and spirit. Port stacked their back line and we went in at half time only 6 points down.

Collingwood’s third quarter display was a compensation for attending a game at this ridiculous time. Port copying our game plan, turned the ball over and Swan swooped and goaled. Another 8 were to come. Again much of the drive came from the back line with Maxwell, playing on the dangerous Ebert, leading the  charge. Leigh Brown was repaying Mick’s faith in him and had a hand in a number of the goals. Dick, Sidebottom and Wellingham were providing plenty of run and Leon finally got away from Cornes and goaled. Collingwood were running and applying pressure all over the ground and their delivery improved. This was probably their most impressive quarter of the year.

In terms of scoring the last quarter was even, with only two goals each, but both teams were looking tired. Leigh Brown continued his good work, providing Brad Dick with the opportunity to kick his third goal. Didak kicked his third and it was good to see him back.  At one stage Alan Toovey grabbed the ball and went for a run and there was murmur of “Toooooooovey” from some of the crowd. Was that the birth of a new phenomenon, similar to the Carlton “Kreuzer” chant? The remaining interest in the game seemed to be whether Swan could gain 50 possessions, with the crowd instructing the players to kick it to him.

The siren went and it was great to hear the song again. It was also good to see so many supporters still there at the end of the game, unlike the Carlton and St Kilda games when the numbers had dwindled. A crowd of 37, 000 will only encourage the AFL to give us more of these games. What wouldn’t North Melbourne give to have that sort of crowd?

An encouraging win and I now look forward to future games with more optimism than I would have a few weeks ago.

The good things to come out of this game:

It was a great win without significant contributions from Leon, Tarkyn Lockyer and Dale Thomas.

Leigh Brown’s significant contributions and Didak’s return.

The development of the young players, Dick, Wellingham and Sidebottom

Jack Anthony requires few possessions to have a significant impact on a game.

If we ever have an alternative strip, let’s hope it is not something insipid like the Port outfit

Skills can improve during the course of the game.

Votes for the Russell Johnston/Greg Phillips/ Josh Mahoney chapter of the Horsburgh Medal go to.

3 Dane Swan: Not for the number of possessions but for his endeavour and persistence all night. Who would have thought when he first played that he would have developed into such a fine player?

2. Nick Maxwell: Again not for his number of possessions, but for the way he went about his job on the backline. He is growing into the captain’s role

1. Leigh Brown: A great game. He worked well all night, kicking two goals and assisting a number of others

A number of player were unlucky to miss out including Dick, Wellingham, Cox, Harry, Shaw, O’Bree, Sudebottom

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