AFL Round 8 – Collingwood v Geelong: Alter ego

Score a footy and Cats gear

Score a footy and Cats gear

“There’s only thirty cans left at the Retreat” says Cousin Steve, cradling his two beers protectively in front of the Ryder.

“Strike a light mate. Drinkin the place dry. That’ll just give more fuwel to them Collingwood stare-E-o-tipes. I was just tellin Thug yesterday when they was doin me uva arm at the tattoo joint, it’s not like we eva stare-E-o-tipe them bastards or anyfink. I would neva ster-E-o-tipe that pack of bloody hoop wearin, golf-clappin, corridor-hoggin … culturally-superior, intellectualising, Gerard-Whately enunciating, self-congratulating bloody ‘squatto-catry’ and don’t even get me started on that bloody John Harms …

Cousin Steve backs away slowly, muttering something about ‘seeing a man about a beer’.

Vic Park – watching the twos take on the understudy-Cats before tonight’s main game. Soon enough I bump into that salt of the earth Magpie Phil Dimitriadis who muses eloquently about being ‘home’ at the old ground, the importance of ‘space’ in our football memories. On the field we are giving Geelong too much. Their seconds play like their firsts, powerful, slashing, precise. But we are somehow staying in it. I can only speak in fragments, having to tag three young magpies. At the half they have a kick on the field, the older sister casually burying her brother’s head in the turf, Weideman style. Phil notes we could use some of that intensity tonight. The VFL Pies rally inspirationally to beat their fancied opponents in this sacred ‘space’, that despite its renovation rescue now seems a world from the polished, pristine pantheon down the road where tonight’s blockbuster will take place.

I’m still on ‘duty’ at 7.40 pm, putting the last of the kids to bed while Mission Control marks student exams. So the first fifteen minutes of the big game come courtesy of Footy Live, app which has the Pies two goals up. Footy Live is like, so awesome … and stuff. But it sometimes misses certain key nuances, such as the unheard of Bartel first quarter shocker, the sudden reincarnation of the Pie-forward press or the inevitable umpires’ attempts to cheat us at every turn. Aside from this, Dwyer looks busy and pierces Geelong, finding a lively counterpart in Elliot to stretch the lead before Hawkins responds to spark an exchange of skilful goals within this titanic battle of game styles. Geelong as ever seek to muscle control of the corridor while the Pies try to press them out of it. But the Pies have the better of it, rattling the ladder-leaders off their natural game with fierce tackling. Harry O is playing a blinder, as is Dwyer and overall the Pies seem to have more run and spread. By the half we have a satisfying 26 point buffer. Normally I’d be pretty relaxed from here. But this is Geelong, relentless as the tide. In my mind the game is far from won and as I gather a half-time Magnum Classic at the command of Mission Control, McCLure and Alves echo these very thoughts on 774. No one disrespects Geelong, they are the Terminator II of footy, virtually unkillable.

The third quarter is always Geelong’s. Three things happen to change the game. I will list them in ascending order of importance. 1. Scott moves an extra man back and places Bartel forward. We know right away that this will work because everything Bartel does (apart from the opening quarter of this game) is perfect. 2. The umpires go on a rampage. One of them, whom we shall simply call: Umpire X who I went to school with and I know barracks for Carlton and brings a hammer and nails to all Collingwood games so he can CRUCIFY US AT EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY – begins the carnage by awarding the now customary free in the middle against Jolly for the crime of ‘being Darren Jolly’, unless of course raising your leg in a threatening manner at your ruck opponent is now an infringement. In any case, it begins an onslaught of gift-wrapped presents meted out to the one team outside of WA who can lay claim to the world title for milking head high contact. It ends with the sole Magpie free awarded to O’Brien, pointlessly on the siren to the screaming irony of the Collingwood hordes. 3. Geelong, once rolling are an overwhelming force of nature, and like the aforementioned tide, surge over the top of us with a relentless barrage of goals. It ends what BT calls an ‘eight goal withering burst of perfection’, it gives Geelong the lead and it signals an eight-minute withering burst of commentator-love for ‘this amazing football Club’ from the swooning Richo and Darce which on balance proves considerably more nauseating than the umpiring, the score and another Collingwood collapse.

Geelong to their credit, know their own script. At this point, two plot-lines seem available to us: a) fold like a deck of cards b) fight courageously. The decision may tell us a lot about this season.

To my unrestricted joy, Collingwood choose b). And in the last quarter wrestle back the momentum; rediscover their run, sweep back past the Cats and even … gods be praised win a free kick (!) as Krak goals, to the commentators’ dismay. Elliot glides forward and delivers dagger-like to Krak once more whose brilliant banana makes it 7 points. Geelong surge furiously again but we manage to dog-paddle through the dying seconds with the help of a classic Cloke clutch and some judicious boundary hugging to resist that relentless tide. It is a victory for persistence, for the under-dog, for the afflicted, for body-art.

I spend a little time bathing in the blogosphere before turning in. Quite a number of Cats fans have come across to commend us in tweet and text. I can’t help feeling a certain affinity for them in this rare moment of vulnerability:

Yeah nah, mate, whateva ya might reckon about them Geelong bastards, one thing I’ll say, they’re pretty good sports.


3. S. Dwyer

2. H. O’Brien

1. J. Bartel

About james gilchrist

James Gilchrist is another Collingwood tragic who enjoys reading, writing, music, travel and teaching. A father of three, he teaches at Genazzano College, writes for the Footy Almanac and waits ever patiently for that next elusive Magpie Premiership.


  1. Andrew Starkie says

    James, dwyer is a Warnambool boy. he’s going well by all accounts

  2. Don’t want to pre-empt the honourable editors but this is the emanately bookworthy match report James.

    I particularly liked the observation that Darren Jolly has frees awarded against him ‘for being Darren Jolly’. Looking forward to Jols’ umpire rant in The Age when he retires!

  3. Stephen Cooke says

    No bias in the comments section either, hey JD. These reports by Collingwood reporters much better than those Cats types!

    (Stirling article, by the way, we agree on that)

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks James, I could never work out the reason for the regular frees against D.Jolly. Great writing.

  5. Peter Flynn says

    Terrific piece James about a terrific game.

    We agree on the votes. Pendlebury was stiff.

    Dwyer was very impressive.

    Harry O was out of control.

    Guthrie(?) gave Krakouer a fraction too much latitude late.

    Collingwood’s pressure was 2010-like.



  6. Dave Nadel says

    They didn’t just give frees against Darren Jolly. They reported him for a high tackle (subsequently thrown out by the Match Review Panel) What is a high tackle? A high tackle is a tackle laid by a Colllingwood player on a Geelong player. Jolly is 200cm, the bloke he tackled Matthew Stokes is 177cm. Anywhere Jolly tackles him can be deemed to high by an umpire with an agenda. On the other hand earlier an umpire had paid a free kick against Jarryd Blair for a high tackle on Trent West.. West is 198cm, Blair is 174cm. The only way that Jarryd could reach West’s higher regions is if West does a “Selwood” and ducks into the tackle!

    By the way I thought your report was excellent, James.

  7. Stephen Cooke says

    You Pies fans have a win and still bleat about the umpiring. Turn it up, fellas.

  8. Thanks for the kind words. Nice to hear from you all. Geelong/Collingwood clashes always seem to result in some left-over disgruntlement from one side or another. Perhaps the high-octane nature of these games leads to a few errors from the men in neon. But boy that 3rd q. was one out of the box I have to say. Starks Dwyer is a ‘revelation’ to use the cliche. Hard to understand why some of these blokes spend so long in the VFL sometimes, terrific footballer for mine.

  9. Lord Bogan says

    James, a balanced and perceptive article, crucifixion analogies included. Cousin Steve has tapped into the zeitgeist of these casually smug Cats types. He knows.

    I reckon Bucks might have seen Amelie’s attack at the ball and the man (poor Charlie) and then passed it on to the seniors.

    Have to disagree on one thing, Jolly does have a tendency to give away unnecessary free kicks and does have a habit of mouthing off at the umpies. He should save the vitriol for his column.
    Wish we’d see more of your writing on this site mate. Great stuff.

  10. Steve Fahey says

    Love your work James. Cookie, if we can’t bleat when we win, when can we bleat ?
    The Jolly “”raised knee which made no contact”in the ruck contest was extraordinary.

    Agree that these have been great contests in the main in recent years, probably in the silver medal on the podium (a fair way) behind Geelong/Hawthorn clashes which I always try to attend as I reckon they have been the peak of footy in the past 5 years. The Sydney/Hawthorn games last year were all crackers but this year’s was a fizzer so they take bronze.

  11. Good stuff, Jimmy G.

    The flecks of bile even made it through my computer screen. Imagine if you were actually THERE!

    Friday now on my mind.

  12. Edward Rush says

    Excellent writing, James.

    I was pretty hosed by the end of the match because I could see which way things were going, so I’ll have to take on trust the things you say about the magnificence of Collingwood’s comeback.

    I wish the Cats had won this match. That’s three in a row we’ve dropped to your mob.

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