AFL Round 11 – Melbourne v Collingwood: The best place to use a tartan rug

The Queen’s Birthday weekend sees the continuation of a thirty five year tradition in the lives of a large group of my mates….freezing down at Bemm River in the depths of Gippsland whilst fishing (poorly), swapping stories around a campfire, and cooking and drinking like Vikings.

Two of my mates who make the annual pilgrimage are not your quintessential Demons supporters. They buy memberships, despite being MCC members, they sit through thrashings, the most recent being Hawthorn’s mauling of the Dees last week, and they don’t ski. Rich and Dave, brothers who graced the corridors of Xavier College, have managed to break out of the stereotype that dogs Melbourne supporters. Well nearly….Rich was spotted with a tartan rug covering his legs at the football about twenty years ago aged 35. Banter is directed pretty much at them most of the weekend and, whilst Rich takes it in his stride, we can always get Dave, the more aggressive of the two, in.

After three days of fairly solid fluid intakes and countless lies, PJ Branagan and I head off for the “G” at 7.30am on Monday morning, at which time the thermometer tells us it is 3 degrees. Leaving Bemm River at that time is a very different way to start your day. The cold wet dark of the forest surrounding the Sydenham inlet gives way to a pea soup fog that shows no signs of clearing.

The Melbourne boys have all stayed in bed, citing the weather, their hangovers, loyalty to their friends and the Global Financial Crisis as reasons why they won’t make the trip to the “G” today.

Our first stop is a heart foundation breakfast at the Bruthen Bakery where a vegetable roll, Vanilla slice and a sugary cappuccino set me up for the drive. I can hear my GP moaning already. PJ, health fanatic, doesn’t have a vanilla slice. Bruthen is a beautiful little town on the edge of the Alpine region that comes alive on this weekend. The pride shown by the locals is obvious in the neat lawns and well maintained public buildings. But it is changing. The local footy teams didn’t appear in the shop windows this year.

Back in the car conversation drifts from the poor fishing abilities of our housemates on the weekend to how many number one draft picks it will take Melbourne to be competitive. The AM radio is a bit high-brow and we rue the void left by the Coodabeens not doing public holidays.

We discuss the development of Jack Watts, or “young fellow number 4” as he is known to a large number of the Demons faithful. Would he be going better in a stronger side or is he just one of those number one draft picks who drifts away. The verdict is that we may get to know either way in twelve months’ time.

When we arrive at the “G”, the crowd doesn’t seem “blockbusteresque” and I put this down not to encouraging snow reports but the appalling season the Dees are having. It’s not rocket science.

When finally making it to the Grey Smith bar we assume a position on the window with more room than we normally have at Collingwood games. Oxley is a late change for Elliot for the Pies whilst the Dees run out as named.

The first quarter is an arm wrestle with the Dees having a crack and being behind by only a point at the first break. Collingwood are being challenged by a side keen to show some pride against an old foe. Dawes is showing glimpses of real form and Watts is running freely.

Six goals five to two points in the second term see both of us kick back and relax a bit resuming our usual debate on the merits of Nathan Buckley as a coach. I suspect Buckley has a long view of things and is changing our game plan to create a team that is much more attacking yet sufficiently defensive to avoid the few smashings we’ve had in the past two years against top sides. PJ, in his considered manner, just defaults to that historical slip of the tongue from Buckley…”I came to Collingwood to win premierships”.

Five goals four to two goals two in the third stanza has us more interested in listening to the bizarre stories coming from a table of private school boys on our left. The game had become fairly pedestrian and won’t be a win here for anyone if Collingwood continue on this way.

Dane Swan continues on his way in the last quarter as Collingwood pour on five goals to two. With Pendlebury dominating again and young guns Thomas, Kennedy and Martin consolidating their positions, Pies supporters have a bit to look forward to. On the other hand, an injury to Dawes and disappointing performances from the older Melbourne players clouds their club’s future.

I can well understand those tartan rugs being put to good use down at Bemm River today and not at the home of football.

MELBOURNE 1.5 1.7 3.9 5.9 (39)

COLLINGWOOD 1.6 7.11 12.15 17.20 (122)


Melbourne: Trengove 2, Davey 2, Blease

Collingwood: Cloke 3, Martin 3, Kennedy 3, Thomas 2, Didak, Lynch, Pendlebury, O’Brien, Swan, Macaffer


Melbourne: Garland, McDonald, M. Jones, Terlich, N. Jones, Toumpas

Collingwood: Swan, Ball, Shaw, Pendlebury, J. Thomas, O’Brien


Swan 3, Thomas 2, Shaw 1.


Melbourne: Dawes (ankle), McKenzie (lacerated face)

Collingwood: TBC


Melbourne: Luke Tapscott replaced Chris Dawes at half-time.

Collingwood: Adam Oxley replaced Nathan Brown in the third quarter.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: McBurney, Margetts, Kamolins

Official crowd: 50,835 at the MCG.

About Kevin Witham

Kevin Witham played over two hundred games of very enjoyable suburban football and is a Collingwood supporter who constantly finds himself sticking up for Nathan Buckley. He lives in Richmond and gets to the MCG almost weekly.


  1. There is one major inaccuracy – we fished well.

    Good to see Kev cut back at the Bruthen Bakery this year.

    Also it was a very cold day 20 years ago.


  2. aussie80s says

    The last Melbourne coach to get sacked was after a debacle at Geelong.

    This time Melbourne were up against the Bye and the coach gets the flick. I didn’t see the full results, how much did the Bye beat Melbourne by.

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