AFL Round 7 – Carlton v Collingwood: “…the days it’s made out of. Nothin else.”

You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else.
– Cormac McCarthy, “No Country for Old Men
Being there, I had the feeling that tonight didn’t count all that much. But then, what else is there?


Jock McHale lived in Brunswick. On Wednesday, trawling for a haircut around here, I discover the well-worn shopfront of Vito in Lygon Street, who while too young to have cut Jock’s locks, has been in the trade a fair while. Team photographs of footballers in black & white stripes adorn his walls.

“When I first come to Australia my cousin show me this football on the television. I not believe it. I say: ‘Juventus?! Is this my Juventus?!’ But no. Is Collingwood.”
Annual team photos collected and stored, like vintages of Shiraz grapes. Vintages of Torino Juventus ageing visibly (and not well).

I’m emboldened. I share a photo of Harry Collier with Vito. “How about a hair cut like that?”

“Ah, magnifico. I do this. Very good. And you? You watch Collingwood?”
My relationship with Vito deepening is by the second.
“Yes, I do.”
“Ahh, You know that ah, er, ah, that Ron Richards? He live just down here,” waving out the front window. “I cut his hair. And that Mac. Mac… McCormack?”

I’m transported back to the 1980s and Victoria Park.

“I cut the hair of that one. And others. Who else?”

He’s asking me. I stay on chronology. “Peter Daicos?”

“Ahhh, yes. Daicos. Sure. Daicos. I cut his hair.” I’m eyeballing the S. Silvagni poster on the wall as he tells me this. “…just the once.”

Friday. I wake to a sheep graziers warning out for the Wimmera and South West Victoria. It’s a scarf kind of morning in Brunswick. Carlton v Collingwood tonight. This is supposed to be the big one. Yet today I feel no sense of danger, of foreboding. I usually rely upon my imaginary horse coincidentally called Harry Collier, a stablemate of Clarrie Grimmett, for notification of a big occasion. He’s nowhere to be seen. There’s no threat tonight. This is merely a match against a bottom four side.

I’m at Southern Cross. Cold fingers. Awaiting the 5:56 to South Morang. Lots of John Bracks’ expressions and black coats. But among them, the odd twinkling eye. Wearing stripes. Or crests. The footy crowd are about.

At the G, the attendant announcing “ticket windows to your right as you look at the ground…” breaks off and approaches me.


It’s Flo on announcing duties. The sister of my neighbour. We totally cock-up that social moment of whether or not to kiss hello, laugh about it, then do it anyway.

And next to the statue of the first recorded game of Australian Rules football (1858), featuring Tom Wills, two TV crews demonstrate why humans are crazy. Tony Jones, Tim Watson both front floodlights, with makeup, attendees and claptrap, duplicating effort. What on Earth are we doing?

I’m inside now. Where a roast beef roll costs an even $10. And here’s Aydin.
“Hi, David. Mr Wilson.” Taught him science when he was in year 10. Look at him now. Bearded. Tells me he’s doing his masters in biomedical engineering. Ahh, that’s grand.

Players from both sides are out there carrying on. It’s 45 minutes to game time and they’re doing run-throughs and kicking and sprint work. Shouldn’t they be resting? Saving their nervous energy? Is this army of support staff delivering any value? Could I save each club hundreds of thousands of dollars by sharing my thoughts?

A couple in opposing jumpers walk along holding hands. Beautifully done.

I need salt and vinegar now and a Caramello koala. It’s still quiet enough but Lin on the register is flustered. She’s pressing lots of buttons. “$12.80” she eventually says, with false confidence. But I’m around next to her, reading her monitor too, and even in this hyper-inflated microclimate I know that’s false.
“No, look, you clicked chocolate buttons. I don’t have chocolate buttons. I’ve got this.” Show my koala.
“Oh! Oh, no!” she says, further flustered. Cancelling this order could well be the end of her. I get comfortable. Settle in. But before too long, she’s touched the magic combination of buttons and we’re done.
“Sorry,” says Lin. “My name is Lin. Tonight is my first time.”
“Where do you usually work?”
“Back there,” she points behind the stainless steel. “In the kitchen,” smiling.
“Have a good night,” and I’m off.

Banners are up. Woods out first and I’m surrounded by boos. That’s different. And now the game arrives like an interruption to the pre-game entertainment. It’s almost like we’re all now waiting for quarter time.

In between, a few things I clocked:
B Macaffer stands M Murphy.
T Goldsack will be approaching Bailey’s ladders for personal sponsorship during the week (great grab M Robinson).
As D Thomas takes a set shot, fittingly the Collingwood #13 stands the mark. That’s mortality for you.
Lots of misses from both sides as the game takes a while to settle.
J Elliott takes another high mark for the highlights reel.
The navy blues are helping out M Murphy at stoppages. Setting screens, buffetting B Macaffer.
S Pendlebury creates havoc with a sweeping handballs no one else considers.
D Thomas’s shot at goal gets a D Thomas-esque smother by L Keeffe.
CAR 1.2.8
COL 3.4.22

A woman next to me cracks out the iPad at quarter time. That’s the way we roll in the 2014 MCG public reserve. I find my inner Yvette and get chatting. Suddenly I’m spruiking the Almanac and it turns out she has a son doing sports journalism.
What a funny world.
The second footy interruption of the digital entertainment begins and D Beams snaps goals and sprints straight off.
S Dwyer is going well.
Collingwood are going away.
D Beams reminds us all that he is a very reliable kick at goal.
Intensity in the crowd is already dropping. This could be a theatre crowd.
It’s as flat as a shitcarter’s hat.
CAR 1.5.11
COL 7.6.48

Unforgivably, “kiss cam” commentary booms around the concrete during the interval. What is the consequence of so much loud noise on crowd behaviour? Has anyone looked at this? It seems that the footy crowd becomes passive. There’s no void to fill. Now we have Huddo and Dermie on the big screen yelling things and we have a cast of thousands on the field and we have music and we have lights and we have competitions to enter and to win. Phew.

The third interruption of the digital world begins and it’s back and forth for 9 minutes before we see T Bell crumb the pack for Carlton.
A free kick for holding to T Cloke sees an immediate Collingwood reply.
And now, in the middle stages of the third interruption we see some of the old gypsy troupe mauling. It leads directly from attractive chains of swarming handballs and assistance to goals to J Witts and then to J Elliott.
CAR 2.7.19
COL 10.15.75
It’s 9:42pm and many Navy Blues are leaving. I consider it, too. Such a drab occasion, the ambiance of football lost. What’s happening to the golden goose?

But the last interruption of the digital world is on now and I’m looking for a celebration of swarming running tackling, without injury.
What we get instead is a drop-off in pressure and intensity still further. Collingwood are off on the Bye next and it appears the team has clocked off early.
It’s eight goals to Carlton and four to Collingwood.
In between we are provided further evidence that the goal review system is a turkey. Really; we should all of us be prepared to cop the umpire’s decision. That’s life. Life is not fair. It turns out life is not even fair on replay.
We are also provided further evidence (twice) that D Beams is a crack shot at goal. And that B Grundy is coming along nicely as a Collingwood Footballer Of Significance.

The black and white gypsies again danced and sang and juggled their knives and twirled their fire sticks and sang and played their mandolins and sang this cold tonight. It was not a great occasion. But the job was done. When I wake up in the morning, I’ll know that yesterday does count.

3. Swish’s Almanac piece about RockWiz read pre-game
2. Aydin (well done)
1. Vito (thanks)

COLLINGWOOD 3.4 7.6 10.15 14.20 (104)
CARLTON 1.2 1.5 2.7 10.10 (70)
Collingwood: D Beams 4 J Elliott 3 J Witts 2 T Cloke 2 B Grundy L Ball S Dwyer. Carlton: L Henderson 2 A Everitt B Gibbs B McLean J Garlett L Casboult M Robinson R Warnock T Bell.
BEST: Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, Swan, Langdon
Carlton: Walker, Murphy
Umpires: Chris Kamolins, Brett Rosebury, David Harris.
Official Crowd: 68,251 at MCG.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. 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. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    What a great tale to wake up to.

    I’d have Aydin at 1), I’m guessing that’s what keeps you going, hearing those sort of outcomes.


  2. Super work, Mr Wilson. Some of your finest

  3. Sounds like you were paying attention to what’s important yesterday. The Lin, Flo, Aydin and Vito journey seems far more interesting to me than the contrived experience that the AFL “blockbuster” has become. Didn’t see the game and haven’t read any reports other than yours, but let me guess …..Mick’s under the pump, Daisy needs to lift, there are question marks over Murphy’s leadership….more guff for Dermie and Huddo to bluster about today.
    Give me the Lin, Aydin, Flo and Vito show any day.

  4. Wonderful EiiR. A piece of real insight and humanity, to go with your usual wit and cleverness.
    Loved the “finding my inner Yvette” to chat with strangers line. She does have that effect on you. Thanks for helping me recognise it.

  5. ramondobb says

    Oh what a beautiful morning (and early afternoon), after a Pies win over the enemy. And thanks for sharing with the FPS your view of the game with your brilliantly unique style. I’m glad you came to your senses and determined that yesterday DID count – despite the digital distractions of the current day these games always count. Soaking up every word in the paper, on the computer screen and those beaming through the digital wireless. Loved Vito’s story (and reminds me of one of Martin Molloy’s vox pops in Ackland Street from the Late Show). Floreat Pica and Go Pies!!

  6. Another great post Dave. I also left feeling pretty flat but was somewhat cheered up following watching Mick’s press conference.

  7. Steve Fahey. says

    Lovely piece led by a magnificent quote David. I couldn’t agree more re the bloody Kiss-Cam and other high volume “look and laugh at me” sideshows. What about discussion and debate during the breaks? How about more stats on the board -have others noticed that, while there are more stats on the screen, the teams’ free kick and Inside 50 totals do not appear (although we do get marks inside 50), and for individual players we get their kicks and marks, but not handballs. Pretty poor in 2014.

    An extraordinarily average game but another win

  8. Peter Fuller says

    A fine piece, although I am somewhat annoyed at your patronising dismissal of my team as just a bottom four side – because it’s true.
    I loved your tale of Vito the hairdresser, and I guess we have to forgive his being seduced by the Juventus stripes, rather than the logical allegiance of Italian migrants in Brunswick to the Blues.
    Vito’s recollections have the ring of authenticity; if he was trying to big-note, he would have plucked a more storied name than McCormack. I actually like Peter Mc, a fine player for the Pies and briefly Fitzroy. He is responsible for a witty observation, wtte, if (as a defender) they come down at you 2 on 1, or 3 on 2, you just watch the ball go over your head, and look back to see who kicked the goal.
    That’s still true as we saw a few times last night

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    “This is merely a match against a bottom 4 side”. Love it.

  10. John Butler says

    Splendidly capturing the experience for me E Reg. An experience I declined.

    My expectations for the game were sufficiently low that an after work dash down from the Ballarat plateau wasn’t ever planned.

    The whole world now realises my Blues are increasingly irrelevant to proceedings. Yet I wonder if my club has come to admit the fact.

  11. E.regnans says

    G’day all – thanks for posting.
    Swish – I only taught for 2 years, but that sort of interaction is brilliant.
    Lin was stiff to miss the votes.

  12. Frank Cheeseman says

    Top stuff Dave.
    Loved both the above and your DR awards.
    You must be of my vintage – “As flat as a shitcarter’s hat’ – I use it (as did my father) unfortunately it’s a term rarely used nowadays. Like the torp perhaps…….. Bring it back!

  13. I got there near the end of Q3, having popped in from the Rebels match. Interetsing atmosphere. I saw a few Carlton goals at the start of the fourth, so I really had no idea of what had gone before.

    Interested to see the Pies v top sides.

  14. The worse thing about the Almanac and this type of match report is that you are compelled to read them — you can’t simply choose to ignore them, like you can the bin liner that constitutes today’s sports pages.

    Damn, you E.Regnans.

  15. Patrick Skene says

    Great piece!

    Vito clearly best on ground.

    …just the once.”

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