AFL Round 20 – Sydney v Collingwood: For the love of ‘Billy’.

My daughter Anastasia is in love and so am I. The object of our affection is Jamie ‘Billy’ Elliott. I first felt something move when I watched Billy snatch the game away from Carlton off his own boot in round 2. I remember going home and being greeted with: “That’s your future son-in-law” by an elated thirteen year old girl. The memory of that expression of joy stayed with me and whenever we sit and watch the Pies play, we eagerly await to see Billy display his mercurial repertoire of tricks.

The first half of the first quarter was all Sydney. Mumford was a colossus in the ruck, Jack and Hannebery seemed to be everywhere and Tippett was dangerous with every piercing foray forward. Half way through the quarter, the Pies began to tighten up and get more numbers to the ball. Grundy started to compete with Mumford and all of a sudden the big blood wasn’t getting things his own way. Neither was the acclaimed Sydney midfield. Swan, Pendles, Ball, Beams and Sidebottom, the cream of our 2010 premiership on-ballers, began to impose themselves on the contest and will the ball back into our control.

At half-time the Magpies led by only three points, but they had all but dominated the play for the last quarter and a half. For the first time in weeks I had a tangible sense of excitement about the game of footy I was witnessing.

I was not thinking about the media, the AFL, WADA, ASADA, Essendon, Caro, Smith, Hird, Fine, Whateley and Demetriou. They didn’t matter and I realised that what attracts me to the sport is the poise and vision of Pendles, the relentless running of Swanny, the coolness and gilt-edged execution of Beamer, the iconoclastic leap of Grundy and the audacity of Billy to pluck marks off men twice his size and slot goals from fifty meters with seemingly effortless precision.

Tippett loomed large for the Swans and his brilliant marking was keeping them in the match. They had no forward crumbers, Kennedy was flat and their run from the backline was constipated. There is no doubt that they will be hard to beat once Reid, Goodes and Jetta return, but tonight they were there for the taking and the Pies capitalised.

Marley Williams and Ben Sinclair are growing in confidence with each outing. Buckley’s use of Sinclair as the go to man in the corridor was telling. The Swans didn’t rate him yet Sinclair kept cutting a swathe through the middle and his delivery into the forward line kept presenting Cloke and Reid with winnable one-out contests. If Clokey could have kicked straighter the game would have been over earlier. But that’s Clokey.

I was prematurely scathing in my criticism of the Pies and Buckley’s game plan earlier this year. I guess, I was still in the deluded dynasty zone that was created by that bloke who now coaches Carlton (badly, might I add). This was the first unchanged Collingwood side since round 2 in 2011. I like how Bucks is encouraging the youngsters to run with the ball and back themselves. Josh Thomas was another great example of this new-found confidence, with two vital goals at important times. When it doesn’t work it looks bad and the cynical, weather-beaten fans like me protest. It happens; irrational emotion is part of the fans’ psyche. Without it, indifference and apathy is ready to take its place. The dynastic delusion done and dusted, I must place my faith in the mind of Bucks and his plan for a strong squad of quick and skilful players to write the next chapter in Collingwood’s history. It probably will not happen this year, but I now share the long term vision of a bloke who was by far the greatest Collingwood footballer in my lifetime. He carried that side from 1996 to 2001. If Bucks was injured or had an off game we rarely won.

I look forward to watching Billy Elliott hopefully progress from a precocious young dynamo who has taken the place of One Direction in my daughter’s pubescent fantasies, to a player who thrills when he has to and does the team thing when necessary.

More importantly, my faith was somewhat restored by watching the actual game and ignoring the negativity of the newscape, albeit for a couple of short, yet meaningful hours.


SYDNEY SWANS  4.4  5.9  9.10    10.11 (71)

COLLINGWOOD    2.4  6.6  12.10  14.16 (100)



Sydney Swans: Tippett 6, Shaw, Jack, Bolton, Kennedy

Collingwood: Elliott 3, Reid, Sidebottom, Thomas, Cloke 2, O’Brien, Pendlebury, Grundy



Sydney Swans: Tippett, O’Keefe, McVeigh, Mumford, Richards, Hannebery

Collingwood: Pendlebury, Swan, Elliott, Beams, Sidebottom, Thomas



Sydney Swans: Nil

Collingwood: Nil



Sydney Swans: Ben McGlynn replaced by Brandon Jack at three-quarter time.

Collingwood: Nathan Brown replaced by Sam Dwyer in the third quarter.


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Dalgleish, Stevic, Nicholls


Official crowd: 42,627 at ANZ Stadium


Malarkey Medal Votes: 3 Elliot 2 Pendlebury 1 Tippett


About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Phil. Saturday night’s game was a fantastic reminder of how great our club is and how great our game can be. Glad you’re back on board with Bucks. He knows what he is doing, we are in much better hands than the Blues are with Grumpy Mick.

    Elliot was superb, he lifts the whole team when he is on fire. Loving the work of Brody Grundy, our midfield is surely helped with his grunt and ferociousness at the ball.

  2. Buckley’s genius is that he can turn boys into men.

  3. I really enjoyed watching Saturday night’s game, and given my high opinion of the Swans, your Magpies were scarily good. Where did that come from? You have been average to poor all season.
    Ben Reid up forward is a masterstroke, and your midfield looked the best in the comp with all your guns back. Not just the stars either, but also the fringe players who did the tagging jobs on Jack, Kennedy and Hanneberry.
    For several years I have said I would take Pendlebury for the Eagles if I could take one player from another club. I know he is not for shifting, so I mean it as a compliment to his class and skill – which is what we lack most.
    Can’t come at Heath Shaw though – his clangers are coach killers. Not blessed with self awareness from the look of his reactions. Me ump???? Must be getting lessons from Eddie.
    This finals season is looking enticing.

  4. Dave Nadel says

    Good report, Phil. I can see “Billy” Elliot playing the role for teenage Magpies of 2013 that Daisy played in 2006-11 and Taz played in 2001-5.

    Peter B, The biggest single change is the recovery of Beams. With Beams reemergence Collingwood has all its top midfielders on the park apart from Daisy. That means that the opposition has to put its best midfielders on Swan, Pendlebury, Ball and Beams. Which means that Sidebottom and Blair return to the form they showed before they were treated as if they were in Collingwood’s best four. The emergence of Josh Thomas hasn’t hurt either. It is too early to anoint Grundy as the answer to Collingwood’s ruck problems (although he is certainly a huge part of the Pies future) but his introduction has bought time for Jolly and Hudson to get fit for the Finals.

  5. Grand report, Phil. J Elliott has that special something, even without my teenage -girl-vision on.
    PB, I too, was asking “where did that come from?”
    I’d been savouring the prospect of a Collingwood / Test match Saturday night double header, but was scandalously called to a birthday celebration instead.
    Your report, Phil, has me looking forward to Friday nights’ trip to the G.
    Dave- the rucks so important (still get chills thinking of Clark ‘the big show’ Keating carving us up in the GFs). Collingwood very well served there presently.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    You blokes have changed your tune.

    Very good win Pies. Bucks may be winning the test of wills.

  7. Lord Bogan says

    Thank you for your comments boys. It’s very easy to get jaded with all the off-field stuff.

    I’ve given up tipping, supercoach and paying too much attention to the media. Been to many VFL games and enjoyed connecting with my roots at Vic Park while watching the young fellows develop.

    I neglected to mention the wonderful contribution from Harry O. He’s been through heaps and has been inspirational in the last couple of weeks. Dave N, Beams has been so important in freeing up Swan and Pendles, while also opening the door for Sinclair and Sidebottom to play with more creativity. Lynch and Brown are a worry. Don’t know if we can have Brown and Keefe in the same backline. EReg, also looking forward to going along on Friday night and giving the Hawks a run for their money.
    PB, can the Eagles still sneak in? Might be a Coll v WCE elimination final. And Luke, don’t want to put too much pressure on Grundy, but have watched him in the VFL and he is developing well. I wouldn’t want him to be first ruck in the finals, but if Jolly can get fitness and form for one last tilt, they may be a dangerous combination in September.

  8. It’s a numbers game and for the first time in ages, maybe since around R20 2011, the Pies have a near full deck and settled side. Dave is 100% correct about Beams – better teams can counter Swan & Pendles but add #17 & #12 to the mix, and Josh Kennedy, I mean Thomas, and the forward line is suddenly getting the ball quickly and often.

    Unfortunately the resurgence is probably a few weeks too late so far as the end game.

    PS. Daisy would be mad to leave this list for maudlin Mick’s blues.

Leave a Comment