AFL Round 5- Collingwood v North Melbourne: Easter Back at the ‘Bool


Collingwood versus North Melbourne

1.40pm, Saturday, 19 April

Melbourne Cricket Ground

There are so many things I love about Easter. Like the long, yawning weekend in Warrnambool; the Stawell Gift on TV; chocolate smothered across Eloise’s grinning face and kick-to-kick with nephew Lukey; church foyer gossip; catching up with mates at Old Collegians versus Merrivale; family dinners in front of The Sound of Music; and autumn folding neatly into winter.

Most of all I cherish Easter’s reaffirming powers.

On Easter Saturday afternoon, my brothers-in-law, Chris and Dean, nephew Lukey and I pull up a table under the screen at Mac’s Hotel on Raglan Parade, or the Princes Highway as it’s known to the rest of the world. Mac’s is a Collegians pub, scene of countless post-match and season rituals. Memories of crowding around the dimly lit bar or pool table or in the corner booth with mates, roaring our heads off, always make me smile. Publican Cork Walsh is a good and proud Kangaroo man and has the walls sprinkled with royal blue and white memorabilia.

As usual, Greg ‘Twistie’ Kriz is behind the bar. Fellow member of the 94 reserves premiership side, he looks up, smiles and we greet each other with a warmth typical of two people with a lifelong bond. We played in defence, or ‘Men’s Department’, and with ample balance and time, Twistie had a fair bit of David Rhys-Jones about him. I recall Twistie winking at me during the three-quarter time huddle Grand Final day with the flag ours to win or lose, and feeling instant reassurance. The premiership photo holds pride of place in the study in Coburg.

Three hours up the highway – actually, four these days with Eloise in the back – Collingwood has this game in its keeping by half-time thanks to hard running both ways, man on man defence, and excellent kicking to forwards. Fasolo, Swan and Cloke are prominent.

Nathan Buckley is a smart coach and strong man who appears to have won the battle of wills with the club’s rat pack. He has a well-drilled unit believing in him and there’s a top four position available which the Pies may grab come September.

North looks uncomfortable on the larger surface of the G. It also lacks the skill required to play a high possession style with regular kicking errors, particularly out of defence and to forwards. Under pressure, North is rattled and loses structure, often without a target to kick to.

North is a confidence team whose self esteem ebbs and flows and the difference between its best and worst is as wide as Lady Bay. Consistency is key to success, yet we are a club still reliant on emotion rather than hardness, skill and belief.

With the result beyond doubt, the second half is pretty flat. Collingwood misses chances and North plays deflated, like a team disappointed in itself for once again failing in the face of big expectation. The final margin of 35 points is a dishonest assessment.

After the siren, Cork wanders past, wipes a few tables and shakes his head at the screen. On the way out Twistie and I agree to reconvene the ‘Men’s Department’ over a quiet one or two at the premiership reunion later in the year.

At home, Dad is dozing in his recliner, the kids are wrestling in the front room, and the house is filling with the warm, comforting smell of buttered hot cross buns. Call me old-fashioned, but I love this stuff.

Happy Easter.

COLLINGWOOD 5.4 10.6 11.9 13.15 (93)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 5.3 5.7 8.10 (58)

Cloke 4; White, Beams, Elliott 2; Pendlebury, Lumumba, Goldsack
North Melbourne: Thomas, Bastinac 2; Gibson, Currie, Greenwood, Harvey

Swan, Cloke, Sidebottom, Lumumba, Pendlebury, Fasolo

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Gibson

Umpires: Margetts, Nicholls, Hosking Official crowd: 57,116 at the MCG

Our votes: 3 Swan (Coll), 2 Cloke (Coll), 1 Sidebottom (Coll).



  1. John Butler says

    Reunions can be moments of truth Starkers.

    Who’s moved on. Who’s stayed put.

    But it’s always a surprising coincidence that the magnitude of the deeds grows with each passing drink.


  2. Neil Anderson says

    Liked the way you could still tell us about the precious family moments at Easter after watching your Roo-boys falter. Everything well and truly in perspective.
    We have started to plan a move into Warrnambool later this year from 50ks away and after seeing you mention such landmarks as Mac’s Hotel and someone else talking about watching the game from Hotel Warrnambool, I can’t wait.
    I think the now tea-totalling Dave Hughes said he used to work in the drive-through at Macs.

  3. “35 points is a dishonest assessment”.
    Andrew, that is an honest assessment!

    I am glad that you did not let the Roos’ insipid performance
    spoil your trip.

  4. Great read, AS.
    “Men’s department” – gold.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Gtrat honest report , Andrew can see the tern , Mens Department re defence catching on in these hallowed pages . Spot on re north seem to play too much on emotion and too big a gap between there best and worst thanks , Andrew

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    JB, we get better every year. I’ll be David Dench by the 50 yr reunion.

    Ando, DH did his best and worst work at the MAcs when he enjoyed a beer. One postseason ritual saw he and a few others climb the norfolk pines out front on Raglan pde.

    E and malcolm, men’s dept isn’t my term, I think it originated with Twistie, but it’s very apt.

  7. Sounds very much like the wa ythe Pies dismantled the Blues last night..

    great litte sotry there Andrew.. had me thinking back to my High School Days..

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