AFL Round 18 – Collingwood v Adelaide: a Patong bar, a sunset lobster, a Magpie loss

In the same week that a High Performance Coach (and even John Harms can’t explain what that job description means!) was sent home from the Commonwealth Games and an Australian weightlifter was about to face a Glasgow court on an assault charge, my friend Big Kev and I stepped quietly onto a plane in Phuket  after a two week diplomatic and fact-finding, peacekeeping tour of the idyllic island.

To say that Ban Ki Moon or John Kerry would have lauded our efforts could be stretching it a bit. Perhaps Sir Les Patterson might have been more likely to proffer his compliments to our achievements.

However, I had been commissioned by the editorial commissariat of the Footy Almanac to provide a report on the Adelaide/Collingwood match on Sunday 27th July from Bar Funk3 in the Bangla Road strip in the charming seaside hamlet of Patong. With the local delightful, chilled “Chang” beer at 80 baht a bottle (AUS$2.23 incl. GST) and Äussie Pies at a similar price we think that when Gilly takes his first overseas junket next year he should avoid the enticements of the Superbowl or Wembley.

As most AFL CEOs see the need to leave Australia halfway through the season Big Kev and I would warmly recommend and welcome Gillon on our 2015 jaunt to the Land Of Smiles, allowing him to assess the catering and conditions that would have the crowds flocking back to our great indigenous game.

Now don’t get me wrong. Black and White blood pulses through my arteries and veins. I love the ‘Pies and (this is fair dinkum) my doctor’s name is Dr Kevin Rose. One of my best mates with whom I shared a house for five years is called “Hooker Harrison”. (Not the real one from 1958). And Duncan Wright (the Somerville Incident) and “Gabbo” were at my 50th birthday party (and Duncan behaved himself!).

But…I still have issues with the Malthouse/Buckley deal. I even had my philosophical nemesis, Phil Dimitriadis, concede to me in front of the only pub urinal in Kyneton which has been classified by the National Trust that he shares my discomfort. We concur that, while we believe Mick will not do much with what he’s got at  Carlton, he might have got us another flag or two at Collingwood with the boys he had and the ones they’ve picked up.

OK, Nathan’s got rid of the Ratpack but has he established anything to hang our hats on since their demise?

To the game. It started well enough with a smart goal from Jessie White and some good work from Pendlebury and Beams across the middle. But the Collingwood woes of this season emerged pretty quickly. Cloke up on the wing to get a kick. Does Roughead go sixty or seventy metres upfield in search of opportunities? Ben Reid was obviously rusty in his return to the Seniors but Jessie White seems to be this season’s Quinton Lynch. The ball,often lace out to him,was spilt and seldom recovered.

The backline lacks cohesion and,with the antics of a couple of clever forwards in Podsiadly and Eddie Betts,the defence revealed more holes than you would find in a James Hird legal argument.The overtaxing of the engine room of Beams and Pendlebury in the absence of the grunt of Swan and Ball resulted in a lack of fire power from the packs. I’ve left Sidebottom for a classification of his own. While he is flashy or brilliant at times,he’s pretty happy with himself(a kind of senior version of Alex Fasolo)and doesn’t finish well enough, often enough.

To the ‘Pies’ credit they came back from twenty three points down to be up with the Adelaide Crows. But, as opposed to the match in 2010 when they were down and out to the same opponent to the tune of eight goals at the ten minute mark of the last quarter and pulled off a better comeback than Doc Edelsten at Tommy Hafey’s funeral service, this is no Mick Malthouse coached team.

What concerns me is that under Buckley there seems to be no improvement in any particular facet of the side. The backline lacks cohesion and consistency.The forward lines are erratic. Cloke still kicks two to three goals in winning side (and gets paid twice what the Prime Minister earns) and the goals tend to be kicked by the “mosquito fleet”. Beams and Pendlebury are doing a sterling job in the guts without much support and then Buckley removed them both in the third quarter with obvious consequences.

Witts is learning on the job. Why is Grundy playing in the VFL? Use him as a senior ruckman or toughen him up as he fills out by playing him at centre half back. With Jacobs (the best ruckman that Carlton’s had and got rid of in ten years) dominant, Adelaide were able to stabilise against Collingwood’s creditable counter attack and cruise to an admirable win.

Collingwood look like they want to play like Hawthorn – a quick, long ,pinpoint kicking game-but they don’t have the personel or skill. (One wonders what the assistant/line coaches or our co-ordinator of coaching are doing for their hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum).

Young, new footballers are coming into other sides and developing well with the established players but it does not tend to be happening with the ‘Pies.

As the resignation of a loss and the foreboding of another lost season descended on Big Kev and me and the Sun set slowly on the beautiful, azurian Andaman Sea our mates, Remo and Mother, (who both hate Collingwood) changed the subject to where we would go for seafood that night. We went to “Mr.Good Seafood “and ate lobster for $20 a head,  stunningly complemented by the aforementioned “Chang” beer.

If Gillon joins us next year on his catering and venue research assignment I’m sure he won’t be disappointed and the average footy fan could be richer for it.

Pop gan mai,
PJ Branagan


  1. Phil Dimitriadis says

    It’s all turned to shit hasn’t it PJ? Still reckon Buckley helped Malthouse’s coaching in 2010, but I didn’t see this coming. I think the army would like to see some upswing next year or else…Scotty Burns, perhaps?

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