AFL Round 12: Sydney v Collingwood: Pies make Shaw of strong win

By Steve Fahey

One of the unfortunate consequences of the draft has been the frequency with which siblings end up at different clubs.  Let’s call it the Selwood phenomenon, if it doesn’t already have a name.

While the father-son rule has been great in helping maintain and build family traditions within clubs, siblings ending up at different clubs is a blow not only for the families involved, but for the history and tradition of the clubs.  I grew up hearing my dad talk about the Twomeys, the Rose brothers and the Pannams, as well as the earlier Colliers and the Coventrys.  (In the old days when the plural was used it meant that there were actually more than one of them.)  My dad referred to them as some of the great Collingwood families.  Obviously this has been not just a Collingwood tradition, with other notables including the Cordner brothers, the Lord twins and in more recent times the Danihers, all of whom are etched into the history of their clubs.  Did I mention the Fidge brothers?

In the modern era, the pre-eminent Collingwood family has been the Shaws: Ray, Tony, Neville, Kelvin (played in the twos and the under 19s) Rhyce, Heath, Braden (played in the twos). We also had the unrelated Derek Shaw and Garry Shaw.  Like the Roccas and the Clokes, some have been off-loaded, and this year we have the Shaw family split.

Rhyce is, in the parlance of Jack Dyer, “a good ordinary player”.  At Collingwood he not only carried the burden of a famous name, but also that of a famous guernsey number.  Bob Rose, John Greening, Tony Shaw and the legendary Jason Wild all wore the No.22, and, interestingly, Heath wore No.22 when he played for Victoria in 2008.  Rhyce was a Collingwood person through and through, as epitomised in his quernsey tribute to Bob Rose in Bob’s dying days.  He plays very differently to his father and his uncles, being a dasher and ball carrier whose Achilles heels are foot skills and decision-making.  Unfortunately his most famous moments at Collingwood were low points – the 2003 GF second quarter Alistair Lynch debacle (the low point of a low point) and his peripheral involvement in the 2008 Didak/Heath Shaw fiasco.

In keeping with Collingwood tradition Rhyce was a popular but much-maligned figure.  We build up unreasonable expectations and then sink the boots in when they don’t meet them.  Rhyce was particularly popular with a couple of the Floreat Pica faithful, namely John Ramsdale, who taught Rhyce and Heath, and Andrea McNamara, who adopted Rhyce as her special project “badge boy”.

Despite the fact that 2007 and 2008 were his best years, at the end of 2008 both parties considered that a change was best.  He left with good wishes from the overwhelming majority of us (particularly as he was going to a club that we had built up a great winning streak against!).

Floreat Pica indeed reported a scoop in learning of the conversation that took place between Rhyce and Mick when Mick informed him that he was going to be traded.  The discussion took place days after it had been announced that Simon and Garfunkel were coming to Australia.  Mick, being an old groover, had been playing a few of his old vinyls in preparation for the nostalgic tour (which hits Melbourne this week).  Mick broke into tune:

“Slow down, you move too fast

Hit a target when you pass!

We’ve decided you get the ass

The run-with role goes to … Alan Toovey

Na na na na na na na … Alan Toovey.”

When Rhyce arrived at the Swans, the Swans also continued a tradition by giving him the No.2 guernsey, which since 2003 had been worn by another ex-Pie Nick Davis.  It was also worn by Dermott Brereton in his ill-fated year at the Swans before he came to Collingwood for a strong farewell year.

And thus it came to Round 11, 2009, and the Shaw brothers opposed each other in the now traditional split round fixture at the big Sydney stadium that has become a very happy hunting ground for the Pies. Fourth place was on offer for the Pies, with Mick’s 600th game as a coach being the other talking point.  The selectors made a gutsy call by not including our only All-Australian last year, Medhurst, who was available, but in the twos last week looked like he needed both more work and a good shave.  This was especially brave given that the twos had the week off.

I watched the game with fellow Floreat Picans, Stork, Mick, TAFKATBM (The Artist Formerly Known As The Big Man) and Holly at our regular interstate venue, Stork’s couch.

We watched in horror as Pendles went down and off in the second minute of the game, clutching his knee.  Despite his absence the Pies made a strong start, controlling the game for a quarter and a half, with precise use of the ball and a watertight defence.  Didak was at his creative best, while Sydney didn’t look like scoring, despite Goodes’ early brilliance.  Cox didn’t look like the right match-up for him and Harry ended up with the job.  The captain was allowed to roam as a loose man, and both set up attacks and ably assisted the ever-reliable Presti, while Heater, who has found his confidence, set up many forward thrusts. Cheesy O’Bree got on the score sheet for the first time all year, and enjoyed it so much that he made it two.

The first critical moment of the game occurred midway through the second quarter when we led by 26 points.  The Great (Black and) White Hope, Travis, juggled a mark about 15 metres out straight in front.  While all players stopped when he eventually controlled the ball, the ump called played on, saying that it had been touched.  The Swans cleared, steadied, kicked a couple before half-time and were greatly flattered by the half-time margin.

The third quarter saw the Pies, the commentary team and TAFKATBM at their worst for the night. We had been poor in the clearances all night, with Jolly giving their midfielders ample opportunities.  We went from poor to somewhere below that, with Kirk having it on a string during this term.  We struggled for run, and it appeared that being one down for the whole game was taking its toll.

Energised by a chilli-laden half-time pizza, TAFKATBM was incensed at our efforts during this term, and I wish that I had had the foresight to put my phone on Voice Record. Some of the rants that I do recall are:

“We are gone, we are absolutely gone”

“We will lose by thirty points”

“Good on you Pies, let them back in the game, like you always do”

“Malthouse is a dud”

“Cox will never be a player.”

The Swans kept banging it forward, urged on by the Channel Ten commentary team, with Carlton supporters Walls and Lane leading the barracking.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if they changed their ties from those multi-coloured monstrosities to red and white and/or had a Collingwood voodoo doll in the box.  Our defence was under enormous pressure, as we conceded four goals, and late in the term the Swans hit the front.

The second critical moment of the game came in the dying seconds of the term.  The Swans had pushed a lot of numbers behind the ball, but their defence made a meal of killing the ball, and Swan snapped an opportunistic goal on the siren to both regain the lead and to stem the Swans’ psychological and physical momentum.

A three-quarter time straw poll among the Floreat Picans present indicated that 80 per cent thought we would win, with The Artist being the inevitable pessimist.  Mick dubbed “our” camp the true believers.

The early minutes of the last quarter were tense, with Sydney having most of the play in their forward half, but failing to kick goals; Hall and Micky O were well held by Presti and the much improved Toovey.  We then won some ball, and controlled the game for the decisive ten to fifteen minutes, moving the ball quickly and precisely into our forward half where the class of Didak and Davis decided the outcome.

Although we already led by a goal, the third critical moment of the game was the dubious free kick to Leon on the half-forward line, which he converted after a clear 50-metre penalty.  This goal both continued our momentum and put some space between the teams on the scoreboard.  Didak capped a fantastic game and put the icing on the Pies’ cake by winning a centre clearance and following up with a long goal from a handball receive.  His earlier near-miss soccer attempt from the boundary had further highlighted his class. Leon’s three final quarter goals were another reminder of how far he has come.

All in all, a great team effort, with many lifting for the last quarter, including Dick, Sidebottom and Tarkyn.  The defence was fantastic, restricting Sydney to nine goals despite their dominant midfield.  Harry deserves a special mention for quelling Goodes.  It was also a great club effort, with the coach having a good night in his 600th, ensuring, as he always does, that the key midfielders got enough rest for a final quarter assault.  The decision to start Marty Clarke on Rhyce was an interesting one, but appeared effective in restricting their run out of defence, especially after the puzzling omission of Malceski.  The running bounces stat was 24-4 in our favour.  The call on Medhurst also proved critical after Pendles went down – having a grossly underdone player would have further tested our run.

There are still a few concerns, notably the support for Josh and Travis’s continuing struggle.  Wood is not hungry enough or smart enough.  Can you learn these qualities?  Pendles will be difficult to cover.

As for Rhyce, he was solid, winning plenty of ball in the first half, but not having much influence until the third quarter when he found some space. There were the inevitable turnovers, notably his second quarter kick-in which resulted in a goal.  The final siren saw handshakes and warmth all round for him.  I might be imagining this, but, he might have picked up on Mick’s penchant for Simon and Garfunkel.  As he warmly embraced Heath, I swore I could lip-read him muttering, “There must be 50 ways to leave your brother.”

Votes for the Horsburgh Medal

3 –  Didak

2 –  H. Shaw

1 –  Harry

The (Nick) Davis Cup (yes, not a medal this week) goes to Didak .

Cumulative voting:

16 – Pendles
8 – Tarkyn, Leon
7 – Swan
6 – Max, Didak,
3 – Jack, Presti, Harry
2 – O’Bree, Josh, Dick, Heath
1 – The Mop, Beams, Medhurst, L Brown

Trivia question – father and son Craig and Nick Davis played for both the Pies and the Swans (Snake/Boofer also played at Carlton and North).

Which other father-son combinations have each played for the same two clubs (any clubs, doesn’t have to be these two)?

P.S.  I don’t know any off the top of my head.

I look forward to your contributions and to Haiku Bob’s.  Could someone please do the Danny Roach votes?

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