AFL Round 2 – Sydney v Collingwood: Remnants of the Roman legion, Nick Maxwell and the hipster paradox

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor 161-180.

Collingwood has won tonight in Sydney. That’s a grand win. It’s Round 2 and both sides were coming off Round 1 defeats. Beating the Swans in a match that was at once both open and fiercely contested in close. It looked a good game. Scrappy at times. Tight. Collingwood finished well.

This is how Collingwood sides should play their footy. Backing each other up, attacking each tackle like it’s the match-winner. The match (with the sound down, A.Starkie (L Darcy and B Taylor on the same bill?)) had that captivating “who’s that now stepping up?” refrain about it.

Jack Frost, Ben Sinclair, Brodie Grundy, Jesse White, Jamie Elliott… Years ago under Mick, the coach proudly likened the team’s method to that of the Roman legion. He was theatrically highlighting the lack of reliance on individuals; that when any player went down (injured), another player could and would unerringly step into his wake, playing the required role and supporting the team.

Maybe Mick is trying that now at Carlton. Maybe they speak a different language there. But N Buckley’s side, while very different in its method and now composition, admirably displayed this same trait tonight.

It’s a style that happily recalls days of Abbotsford and of Johnston Street and of J McHale and the exhortation that no player is bigger than the team and that no team is bigger than the club. A man who personifies humility and deference to club over individual, Nick Maxwell, tonight played his 200th game. The footy world probably recognises his 2009 All Australian selection and even his captaincy of the 2010 premiership. He has also previously won best clubman three times.

It was a good-old-Collingwood, Roman legion, Nick Maxwell kind of win tonight. Great to see the young ones mucking in. Jack Frost on Lance Franklin a good example, after Nathan Brown popped his shoulder (ouch). Great signs.

This same club-team-self ideal was the foundation on which the modern Swans were built, too. How this gels with the unfolding 13 years of the Lance Franklin deal is a work only just now in progress. Interesting times.

Commentary of the Roman legion and of the discipline and conformity that this and all modern AFL footy requires, has me wondering about individual psychology within a group setting. How does one assert inherent individualism within the demanding and straightening confines of life as an AFL footballer? How does a young man handle the hipster paradox?

Searching “hipster paradox” I found this: “Implicit in the definition of the term “hipster” is the prominence of nonconformity in all aspects of a “hipster’s” lifestyle. Individualist ideals permeate his clothes, his music, his social behaviour, even his politics. Simultaneously, however, one who seeks to identify himself and be identified by others as a “hipster” undoubtedly strives to conform to the “hipster” construct; he tries to fit himself inside an inflexible “hipster” box.” (Unknown source)

At Collingwood, there is a healthy share of individuals we might call footysters: those refusing to conform to idealisations of presumably coach-designed footballing legionaries, but in doing so finding and establishing a growing pool of others with whom they do closely conform. Extravagant tattoos, ponytail/highball hairstyles, beards.
Let’s all be individuals together.
I wonder when we’ll see the first footy Goth.

Nick Maxwell is no footyster. Nor a Goth. Yet yer man did well in his 200th. He seems to be a man seeking to bring people together. And a man who, when later contemplating the fractures within the 2013 team, decided to step down as captain for 2014. That’s a good man within a good team within a good club. Well played.

SYDNEY 3.1 7.2 9.7 10.9 (69)
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 5.5 9.10 12.17 (89)

Goals: Sydney: L Franklin 2 B McGlynn D Hannebery D Rampe H Cunningham L Jetta M Pyke N Malceski S Reid.
Collingwood: J Elliott 3 T Cloke 2 T Goldsack 2 B Sinclair C Young D Beams D Swan S Pendlebury.

3 – S Pendlebury
2 – D Beams
1 – J Kennedy

Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Luke Farmer, Nicholas Foot.
Official Crowd: 32,347 at ANZ Stadium. Lots of empty blue seats.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Enjoyable read OBP as a non pies person I was rapt for Maxwell the crap he cops from footy followers is rediculous and yet within the football industry he is rated BIG TIME .
    As a leader he rates right up there . B Grundy is going to make a lot of recruiters look like idiots that he was allowed to slip so low in the draft . The recruitment of Franklin may end up the worst business decision in football history . Would love to no what
    Stuie Maxwell , Paul Kelly and Brett Kirk think has the bloods culture been destroyed ?
    Thanks OBP

  2. Dave Brown says

    Yes, Nick Maxwell is generally disliked in only the way a Collingwood captain can be. I thought it was a particularly nice touch of Longmire to not attempt to make him accountable all night.

    Surely part of the hipster paradox is that they are now to be seen everywhere, but very few actually identify as such. I’m not sure if it would be the same for the footyster – an intriguing notion…

  3. E.regnans says

    Thanks OBP Rulebook & Dave.

    I recently watched a great YouTube of Stephen Fry discussing “things he wishes he’d known as an 18-year-old.”
    Within his wonderful rambling 30 minute monologue was this idea of belonging. And that it’s alright to seek belonging. It’s better than alright. It’s healthy. Yet we want to be individuals, too. We need to exhibit individual flair to belong, sometimes.
    The footysters are in v healthy place.

  4. qldpies35 says

    Love the term footysters, each team needs some. I;m sick of the same old same old. bring back the characters of yesteryear, Kekovich, Croswell, Tuddy, Rene Kink,Crackers, Billy Duckworth, Vanderhaar etc.
    What will we call the non – conforming Commentators – commysters, lol

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    I’m sure the Pies recruiting staff are scouring the country for a Goth as we speak…

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