AFL Round 20 – Sydney v Collingwood: Watch out September, the sleeping giant has awoken

I have that feeling again.

It’s been a while but it’s back.

I don’t really know how to describe it. A tingling, a buzz maybe? A sense of excitement and anticipation. I feel more alert, awake, aware. As if something is about to happen. I can feel it deep down in my gut.

It’s the best kind of feeling in football.

The first time I felt it was the eve of the finals campaign in 2010. Collingwood had been final contenders for the past four years but this time felt different. I was excited, but it was a different sort to what I was used to. It wasn’t a nervous excitement, it was a pumped up, really happy sort of excited. I went to the Western Bulldogs final and the Geelong prelim expecting butterflies (as I always did) and then being surprised when I felt strangely calm. I kept this to myself of course.  I could sense the dawning of greatness but refused to believe it. No. I told myself. We wouldn’t make the grand final. That would be too good to be true. These things didn’t happen to me.

That moment in the third quarter of the Geelong prelim when we were up by 10 goals will stay with me forever. I remember it was the first time I heard the haunting Collingwood chant and it filled the MCG. I was stunned by the magnitude and power of the thousands of voices, all united, all experiencing the same joy, the same emotion. I felt a part of something bigger. A part of greatness. I sat there unable to find my own voice, too much in awe. It was surreal. Incredible.  The best moment I’ve ever experienced in football.

That feeling stayed with me the next fortnight during the grand finals and was there throughout 2011 when we dominated the competition. I’ve never enjoyed football as much as I did during that period. It was like being on a constant high. It’s a feeling I hope every single supporter gets the chance to experience (just not at Collingwood’s expense of course!) And a feeling I imagine Geelong supporters have had for a long time! And I guess Brisbane supporters before that.

But in 2012 I didn’t have that feeling.

This year I didn’t either.

When we had good wins, Geelong and Carlton come to mind in particular, I enjoyed them, a lot. But it wasn’t that feeling. Maybe it’s not even a feeling I’m talking about but an instinct, a knowing.

When we had unconvincing wins against Saint Kilda and the Giants I didn’t even really enjoy them. I felt underwhelmed and disappointed. Of course I was angry at myself for being so spoilt and wished I could feel differently.

But then there was the win against Essendon.

I had originally tipped Essendon but something made me change to Collingwood. I felt strangely confident. (I take tipping very seriously by the way and allegiance doesn’t stand in my way.) After the win I was excited but cautious. It was the best win for the year, our first four-quarter performance, and we had played our winning brand of footy on our own terms but all year we hadn’t backed up good performances. The boys hadn’t proven themselves yet.

But then Saturday night happen.

I had tipped Collingwood again and spent the whole week wondering whether to change my tip. But I couldn’t. My gut again was telling me something. The game started and in the first two minutes, Sydney goaled twice. Soon they were four goals up.

My brother gave me that look. He had tipped Sydney.

“We are going to lose.” He said.

“Probably,” I replied.

But I felt strangely calm.

And then for the next three and a half quarters I watched some of the best footy all year. Sydney was strong but we were stronger. I remember a handball exchange from Blair, to Swan down the middle, then as he was about to get caught he handballed to Pendles and as Pendles was about to get run down by Rhyce Shaw, he handballed to Grundy who goaled. The way they weaved their way through traffic, their quickness (something we’ve lacked all year), their decision-making and silky skills… I sat back in awe, wondering how this could be the same team. It was so nice to watch a game that was so satisfying, so fulfilling, that surpassed my very high expectations.

When the siren sounded, I had that feeling again. It took me by surprise.

I felt the wind changing. Had a stirring in my conscious, felt an energy in the atmosphere.

Do I think we can win the premiership? I’m not convinced yet. Will I be tipping us against Hawthorn on Friday night? Probably not. Only if my gut tells me otherwise. But do I sense something has changed down at the Westpac centre? Yes.

There is a hunger there, an energy that had been lacking and it makes me excited for September. Everything is beginning to fall into place. Momentum is building. We are playing our best footy at the right time of the season and we are getting our team back to its best.

I feel like the giant has finally awoken from its slumber.

Watch your back, September!

About Siobhan Calafiore

I'm a passionate Collingwood supporter with a love for writing and am currently studying journalism at RMIT University.

Comments

  1. Neil Belford says:

    Great story Siobhan – hope your gut gets itself together for a win over Hawthorn – we need some kingmakers to play Freo into a top two spot.

  2. Cat from the Country says:

    I love reading these stories. Passion is what makes following a team so satisfying. Go Cats!

  3. Lord Bogan says:

    Great work Siobhan. I’m trying to keep a lid on it, but if we knock off Hawthorn…Damn the hope and those heightened expectations!

  4. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great stuff Siobhan. The atmosphere at that 2010 Preliminary Final was by far the best of any game I’ve ever been to. Huge game this Friday night. Go pies!

  5. Neil Anderson says:

    Love your story about being torn between picking your team or the opposition who are favourites. All because you are in a tipping competition! That weekly struggle resonates with all of us around this football-loving nation.
    As they say in Australia, football is like a religion. Most of us arc up when we hear that and say, “Bullshit! It’s more important than that!”

  6. Enjoyed reading this Siobhan.

    It mirrors my feelings last year about Geelong. The Cats were up and down until about Round 15, and then started to get better and better towards the finals.

    By the time finals came around, even non-Geelong supporters gave the Cats a chance of winning the flag from outside the top 4.

    Enjoy the rest of the ride!!

  7. Thanks guys for all your comments, really appreciate it! I’m glad you enjoyed my post, was not expecting such a response! Good luck to all your footy teams for the month ahead!

  8. Luke and Siobhan, I disagree about the atmosphere at the 2010 prelim final. I found it very unpleasant.

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