AFL Round 10: Pies and Power spark thoughts of AC/DC

By David Enticott

There is nothing better than hearing AC/DC on the radio. In the midst of countless tiresome oldies their music stands out like granite in a swampy morass of easy listening. AC/DC reminds me of factories near my childhood home in Cheltenham in the 1970s- all grease and sweat and industry. These were the days before computers made our lives a little easier. AC/DC were blue collar to the bone.

The band was born during the era of the hard men of football- Ditterich, Mal Brown and John Nicholls. Collingwood had more than its fair share of working class heroes. Players like Tuddenham, Stan “the Man” Magro and later Dennis Banks and Darren Millane. Coming from middle class suburbia these players offered something different, something tough and hard like the back streets of Abbotsford. These were footballers that got better in the heat of battle.

A few years ago the song Back in Black was used by Collingwood to fire up the crowd before the players hit the field. It was a marketing masterstroke. Few songs speak as clearly about what football once stood for.

Yet sadly this year Collingwood have seemed more easy listening than heavy metal. Their tactics have almost wanted to avoid any physical contact. They have hugged the boundary relentlessly. Mostly this has made for some untidy football. In a way it has been most un-Collingwood- we haven’t always had the best teams, but we have rarely shied away from a fight.

On this night I have no idea what to expect as a take my seat in the stands with a mate called Chris who is also a minister (and much better behaved at the footy).

We start the game well but then the lights go out. The ground is in semi darkness and the Power start to win the ball around the clinches. It is a headline writer’s dream- Power switch on when Power switched off, More Power to them . . . you get the idea. This is truly Collingwood’s Annus horribilis- a player beaten up in Queensland before the season starts, incessant coaching speculation, a forward line on the sidelines and now a Power failure against the Power. What next?

The second quarter is much the same with Rodan and Cassisi dominating around the ground. We continue to play death by a thousand cuts around the boundary. This triggers a long lament on my behalf from Row 21 in the Southern Stand. I am like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront.

For thirty five years I’ve been watching this crap. I could have done something with my life. I could have climbed the Himalayas, I could have found a cure for cancer, I could have written the great Australian novel. I could be at home with my wife and three kids, but instead I’m here watching us butcher the ball around the boundary line.”

Chris just laughs.

In the second half something strange happens. Our players start to will themselves towards the contest. Sharrod Wellingham wins the ball on countless occasions in the middle of the ground like a proud middleweight boxer. He stands his ground. With him are the tireless O’Bree and Swan. For something different we actually take the ball through the middle of the ground, with Clarke and the effervescent Dick kicking long bombs into the forward line. We kick nine goals for the quarter and look for a moment like the team that the experts predicted us to be on the eve of the season. Competence has replaced comedy for the first time this year.

The final quarter peters out . . . the only interest in the game is whether Dane Swan can rack up fifty possessions (he doesn’t). With more paint on his arms than the roof of the Sistine Chapel, he looks like an old fashioned Collingwood player. He looks as though he wouldn’t be out of place in the high rises of Abbotsford or as if he could share a beer with Tuddy or Stan the Man. These are not bad things. They auger well for the future. The club is in safe hands.

I could imagine Dane Swan standing there front and centre when AC/DC play at Etihad next February. His ink reminds me of our roots around metal workshops and factory floors. Collingwood was a club born out of struggle. This should never be forgotten in the rush to corporatise the game and make it something that it isn’t.

David Enticott is a middle class Minister working in Rosanna.

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