AFL Round 22 – Collingwood v West Coast: A big night off the field, ho-hum on it

written by Holly Fahey for the Floreat Pica Society

Two weeks ago, Travis Cloke and Luke Ball made a shocking ad that was for a responsible gambling organisation. The message of the ad was to “Set a Limit” but as I have never placed a bet in my life (except Melbourne Cup day), I wasn’t interested. What I was more interested in was the competition in which the prizes were a signed jumper and a trip to the “inner sanctum”. I entered straight away and was surprised when I got a call from Ellie from the Collingwood Footy Club about a week later telling me I’d won. I was bloody excited that I’d finally won a competition, let alone a competition with Collingwood-related prizes. We received two ‘inner sanctum’ tickets in the mail for the West Coast game which meant we got a pre-game address by a coach and the chance to see the boys warm up on the ground.

Because of the “inner sanctum” tour, I was extra keen for this game to come around. As some of you may also know, I was (and still am) a massive fan of Sharrod Wellingham who transferred to the Weagles, so seeing him again only added to the excitement!

Dad and I headed down to level B2 at around half past 6 for the inner sanctum tour and made our way to outside the Collingwood change rooms. Entering the change rooms wasn’t part of the competition but dad tried his luck at “chatting up” an old mate of my late granddad’s, who manned the door. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the desired result as dad was called Keith and he didn’t seem to remember who dad was at all. After the failed attempt, we were escorted into the media room where dad was excited to see the West Coast sponsor back-drop used during press conferences. He proceeded to pretend that he was the coach and insisted that I take photos of him (see below).

We were then given a briefing by defensive coach Ben Hart. He addressed a few points that would be a part of our game on Friday night:
-> We were going to play 6 forwards and 6 backs, the traditional setup
-> Caff would be tagging Gaff (and ended up doing so effectively, keeping him to 8 disposals in the first half)
-> and in response to a fabulous question asked by my dad (he made me put this in), the playing group was going to work together to prevent Heater from being dragged out of play, freeing him up to run.

After the chat with Ben Hart, we went into the race where we watched the boys warm up. Although we couldn’t see much because the boys were on the other side of the ground, I was just ecstatic to be at arm’s length from the great man Glen Moriarty (the guy on the big screen at Collingwood home games).  It was such an exciting experience to be so close to the boys (and Sharrod), and to get a win would make the night a lot better.

I think that the majority of Collingwood supporters would have walked into the G on Friday night expecting a comfortable win, given our recent form and West Coast’s disappointing season, and we got exactly that. The game was effectively over by quarter time, kicking eight goals to two. West Coast didn’t look switched on and our midfield was working hard to cover the ground enabling us to create lots of opportunities. Our ability to handpass and run was excellent and even though our opponent wasn’t fantastic, it was still one of the best quarters of football that we’ve played all year.

The rest of the game was pretty lacklustre, apart from a few highlights including Lachie Keefe’s “throw” (we laughed for ages) and dad’s Glass-related jokes (“You’re such a pain/pane, Glass!” “You’re half-full tonight, Glass!” Geddit??).  We got tired in the last quarter, kicking just one goal and losing the quarter, but it didn’t affect the game at all. We kept West Coast to their lowest score ever at the MCG which is a good feat and a credit to our boys.

Didak was subbed on for Luke Ball (who apparently had calf soreness but should be right for next week) early in the third and was met with a large round of applause whenever he got the ball. As soon as Dids was on the field, most of the crowd were calling “Give it to Dids!” no matter where he was on the ground or if the ball was even near him. When Swanny marked the ball inside 50, the crowd saw Didak storming past (definitely not as fast as he was in his heyday) and urged him to give it off. Swan listened and Didak kicked it through the big sticks, much to the delight of the crowd and the boys. Every single player on the field for the Pies ran to Didak to join in the fun. Nathan Brown even made an inspirational run from full-back to get to him. It was truly a goal to remember for the fans and I’m sure it will find a place in Didak’s memory. My cousin and I found it quite amusing how, even after his 15th possession, the crowd’s cheering was still as loud as it was at his first, which shows what a cult figure Dids is to the Collingwood faithful.

As well as the usual stars, Pendlebury and Swan, Josh Thomas was outstanding for us and as Ben Hart told us in the pre-game, he needed to cover Beams’ absence and he did just that. The big man Brodie Grundy again showed large potential, losing the hit-outs 23-28 but was more dominant than his opponents around the ground. NJ Brown managed to subdue Josh Kennedy, keeping him goalless.  Jack Darling, who usually gets Toovey as a match up, was kept to one goal by Heater (for the half that he was on) who played his part perfectly and was fantastic after a few not-so-great games. Beams as a late exclusion, made way for Paul Seedsman, who provides the team with run and I think we are a better team with him in the side. Reid was good, kicked four and worked well with Trav who kicked three. It was a solid whole-team performance with very few players who didn’t pull their weight (if any).

I would say the off-field stuff topped the actual game but it was good to get the 4 points.   In other Collingwood news, the VFL boys had a 7-point win over 5th placed Werribee to secure a spot in the finals, which will benefit the AFL team greatly come September.  Overall, it was a good Collingwood weekend made even better by seeing Brodie Grundy at LaTrobe Uni’s open day earlier today.

Go Pies!




Leave a Comment