AFL Round 18 – Collingwood v GWS: First game nerves

Whilst my boy is keen about his footy, he’s nowhere near as obsessive as six year old me.  Brainwashed by two older brothers, I knew every Collingwood listed player and their number from 1-60.  Child abuse, some would say…

Luke’s understanding of the game is rudimentary at best, and the strength of his Magpie allegience is roughly that of his favourite superhero (currently Wolverine).  For a brief, unsettling period he declared himself a Cat, for no other reason than his curious fondness for felines.  I can only rely on his hatred for the Blues (‘da Poos’) with confidence.

Anyway, the opportunity had finally presented for Luke to make his Collingwood debut.  As a ’Pies supporter, lugging  small kidlets along is tough logistically, unless willing to stump up for reserved seats and have them in bed near midnight.  In a perfect world the kid-friendly Giants clash at a 30% full MCG wouldn’t have been my ideal introduction to the live experience on which I was weaned.  But at least he’d be guaranteed a win to permeate the bond, or so I presumed.

Another debut I was looking forward to was the ‘Pies’ highly rated ruckman Brodie Grundy.  Likeable kid with a great attitude, though the ‘man bun’ has to go.

Having fallen to the Suns the week before it was expected the Magpies would strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.   And with Reid putting the first on the board after 51 seconds, all was going swimmingly.  That is before another Jezza proceeded to invoke black and white nightmares on the ‘G.

I’d heard about Jeremy Cameron in dispatches, but preferring to gouge my eye with a stick than watch ritual Giant floggings, I’d only witnessed brilliant snippets.  Ablett had beaten Collingwood virtually on his own the week before, and Cameron threatened to repeat the dose.  His speed, skill and nous delivered the Giants’ first five goals and spoke to a Wayne Carey-like mastery of the offensive arc. There appears nothing this prodigy can’t do.

By the long break a combination of lamentable Collingwood effort and the Giants’ clever flooding and slingshot strategy, that similarly quick teams such as Sydney dismantled the ‘Pies with in 2013, earned a 16 point buffer.  Inconceivably the orange boys were well poised to gift Sheeds the ultimate MCG farewell present.  I felt mildly ill.  This was not what I’d envisaged for Luke, and I wondered if this could be the last game either of us would ever attend!

At the resumption Collingwood booted as many in five minutes as had taken a whole half to painstakingly assemble. Now munching on his chips, and the Magpies ‘with their effort back’, Luke’s evening was back on script.  As was mine.

Notwithstanding a talent and physique light years ahead of yours truly, I was more nervous for Grundy’s wellbeing than his performance, which was excellent.  The big guy’s recklessness risks a similar catalogue of hurt as my last dozen games (3 in Midlife Crisis League this year, 9 in my last season 15 years ago).  That is broken ribs on three separate occasions and a dislocated shoulder.

The Giants approached the game with similar youthful abandon, and thrice the stretcher was called upon to retrieve limp bodies from the turf.  Luke suggested stretchering the player off entailed ‘stretching the player apart’, medievil style.  And further mirth ensued when the other two misfortunates were greeted with a ‘good!’ and ‘suffer!’  I do believe as the game progressed one eye was closing over!

In the end experience won out, and the ‘Pies cruised to the worst 40 point win I can recall.  As someone who watches intently in relative silence, attending to observations and questions more relentles than ASADA’s was exhausting.  Ever tried patting your head and rubbing your tummy for three hours?  Nonetheless, offsetting my disappointment at the depths to which the Magpies’ form had sunk was Luke’s joy singing the song, oblivious to our team’s malaise.

I envied his wide eyed reality, and I revelled in it.


Collingwood                          3.3     4.6      9.12    15.16  (106)
Greater Western Sydney      4.2      7.4     10.4     10.6  (66)

Goals – Collingwood: Cloke 3, Swan 3, Sidebottom 3, Reid 2, Beams, O’Brien, Elliott, Witts
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 7, Scully, Smith, Shiel

Best – Collingwood: Swan, Sidebottom, Beams, Pendlebury, Grundy, Keeffe
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron, Shiel, Ward, Adams, Hampton

Votes: Swan (Coll) 3, Cameron (GWS) 2, Beams (Coll) 1

About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    So many good memories dredged up by both your contribution and David’s. I can vividly recall cameos of the process of initiating my boys (now each of them well into his thirties) into the passion which is football. I had the benefit of free admission at 3/4 time (I don’t know if that convenient arrangement survives 21st century avarice of the administration), which was a way to ease them into the long day that a full match entails. I’m sure that I was a less attentive carer than you blokes, and I fear that I fell below their mother’s expectations when the match was close or otherwise absorbing.

    Your accounts of the match also reminded me of an experience of my late mother. She was a committed follower of ill-fated Fitzroy. However, her dedication to the Lions cause was exceeded by her devout Catholic faith. She was troubled by the distraction which her first-born caused for her as she tried to pray during Mass. She was somewhat satisfied by her confessor’s reassurance “You’re never closer to God than with a baby in your arms.” I guess the analogy for us is that we’re better supporters for the company of our children, as we open them to the joy (and stress) which the game has given us over many years.

  2. e.regnans says

    Good one JD.
    Long may the young man’s questions keep coming.
    A fine experience shared.
    Well played.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Jeff. Brilliant name for your son too. Just like you I took my 5 1/2 year old oldest son Gavin to his first AFL game on Saturday on the basis that a) We would win easily and b) smaller than usual Collingwood crowd. Gavin isn’t a great football watcher at home but watched a lot of the game as well as the crowd and had a great night. Like you I was subjected to many questions throughout the game. It was a great father-son night and Gavin was buzzing all the way home and surprisingly stayed awake until we got back to Colac at 9.55PM.

    Was excited by Grundy’s impressive debut, has a great leap and is very good when the ball is below his knees, but was also worried with some of the positions he put himself in. Hopefully Hudson and Jolly help him to learn how to protect himself better. Witts was good too. Our ruck stocks have a bright future, we just need to be patient with Witts and Grundy.

  4. Thanks Peter, David.

    That’s a long haul from Colac Luke, a loss would have been really hard to cop in your circumstances.

    Grundy & Witts had 32 possies between them, one positive at least from the night, along with Keeffe picking up where he left off.

    So did you name your son after Brown or Crosisca?

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Would have been an awfully long trip back if we’d lost Jeff.

    Big fan of both Brown and Crosisca, he was named after Brown.

  6. I love these stories. I introduced my son to live games a couple of years back and, as North supporters, never need to worry about capacity crowds making for a tough night.

    I actually love the incessant questioning, as i know soon enough my child will slowly drop the volume of interactions with me. Consequently I try to stay present in every dialogue.

    Your article also delivered an epiphany for me. I am a far better supporter with my son in tow and that makes me a better dad. Strange how these little people make you experience the world in a different way.

  7. Great read Jeff

    Took both my kids (6 and 4) to their first Blues game on the not so friendly Friday night time slot which I justified by 1) we had come a long way for a short time (from Singapore) and it was school holidays. Big game against the Bombers and a big group of us with 6 adults and 5 kids. At quarter time both were asking when is it going to finish and things were not looking good. As the game wore on, my eldest girl got more into it but the younger boy faded in and out. At the end he fell asleep to miss the tight finish to the game and of course we did not get to sing the song or hang around to cheer the Blues players. Hard work getting them involved from over here but I will keep at it.

  8. Thanks Litza – I was actually quite surprised and rapt Luke stayed with it from start to finish, given he never watches more than a quarter on TV. The keys for me were;

    1) Arriving as late as possible, a long wait would have been a killer
    2) Making sure he had a good view, even though I lost all feeling in my legs with him on my knee
    3) A constant supply of popcorn/cheeseballs etc etc
    4) Getting him the Magpie plush toy before the game

    It’s a challenge, kids these days are made with minute boredom thresholds. I’m sure yours will get properly into it soon enough Craig.

  9. One of my best mates is a Rooboy Antony, and I envy him for the better opportunities he has to take his son. And no doubt I was the Bupa better supporter being with my boy as opposed standing with the riff raff as I usually do!

  10. Thanks JD – actually Craig’s brother here! – Damien. I don’t take too much offense! I am the more reasoned of the two siblings.

  11. Oops, sorry ’bout that Damien! I didn’t think Craig had moved to Singapore.

  12. Jeff

    I think you’ve handled the intro well (I’ll put aside any collingwood specific comments for the time being)

    My 13 year old, who chose the Hawks, was introed in a similar way around the same age, about 2005/6 when the Hawks weren’t flash but has just got Buddy, Roughy, etc. and so there were positive signs. Sat arvo games, at the G, took the car, chose interstate sides like the Lions for small crowds, lots of snacks, arrived just on the start. I think he also curled up about 3/4 time for a nap in game 1, but in a few years time, was writing every score in the Record and loving it.

    I tried to take him to games I thought they’d win too, as it quickly developed he was a shocking loser.

    So Jeff and Luke, wishing you many days of footy bonding with your respective boys and successful drives home (even if that means a Pie’s win)


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