AFL Round 9 – Collingwood v Sydney (Floreat Pica): Pies fans under attack

A couple of weeks ago something happened to me which had never happened in my life. I copped a ribbing from a Swans supporter. Sunday afternoon, the day after Collingwood had been soundly beaten by Fremantle, I was sitting quietly on the boundary of the football ground across the road from our home waiting for my son Herb’s under 16 game to begin. The voice came from behind. “Those Pies were weak last night”. I looked around to be met by the smirk of Rod Williams. I have known Rod for the eleven years since our kids started school together. His son plays footy with my son and Rod is always there to support the team and often helps out. I don’t often get to Herb’s club football being on team manager duty at my daughters’ lacrosse. But this was Mothers’ Day, and lacrosse being the sport it is, doesn’t play games on Mothers’ Day.

There are several noteworthy aspects to copping it from a Swans supporter. The first one is obvious: most Melbourne people don’t actually know any Swans supporters. I am a bit unlucky there. Rod’s rationale for his Swans support is fairly sound – he played three games for the old South Melbourne, and his father Billy was named on the bench of the Swans Team of the Century. The second noteworthy aspect in Rod’s dig, was that while the Pies were being beaten by Fremantle, the Swans were themselves copping a hiding from Hawthorn. When challenged about this Rod’s unflappable response was “we never play well at this time of the year”. Not entirely true, as was proven two weeks later.

Friday night at the MCG: Collingwood v Sydney. Normally I would be there but the circumstances of the day led me to the early decision that I would watch the game on television. In fact, I would rather tell you about my very pleasant Friday than dwell on the negatives of Collingwood’s performance. I had taken a day off work so I could accompany three of my children to an 8.30 appointment at the Vic Roads office in Hoppers Crossing. Half an hour later we have three new learner drivers in the family. Anyone who has been a learner driver instructor of recent times would appreciate that 120 hours of supervised driving, while unquestionably valuable, is a bit time consuming. Multiply that by three and you enter the realms of physically impossible. So if any of you have any spare time over the next couple of years…

Having delivered the children to their respective schools, I left the car at home and jumped on the train to the All Nations Hotel in Richmond for the Footy Almanac lunch. Another wonderful event, but I really shouldn’t drink red wine in the middle of the day. I am pretty sure that is the reason my notes on the first quarter of the game are non-existent. It is difficult to write and snore at the same time. Apparently I missed the best part of Collingwood’s performance. I have recorded the game, but who wants to re-watch a loss, even for the unseen best bits.

The first two quarters of football I did actually observe brought little joy. One goal in an hour of footy. We struggled to maintain any meaningful possession, and turnovers resulted in Sydney goals. Collingwood forward forays were into crowded contest. Swans found loose players on the lead or over the back. Apparently Quinten Lynch was on the field. Sam Reid, whose place in Sydney team earlier in the season was being questioned was suddenly the better Reid. Adam Goodes enjoyed a dominant game until suddenly it became less enjoyable. Our unaccountable mid-fielders didn’t get the ball which meant their so-called opponents did. The Collingwood of the previous week was nowhere to be found. The Sydney of the previous two months had apparated to be replaced by the one that had won the previous year’s premiership.

With a late and stupid fifty metre penalty against Jolly late in the third quarter, Collingwood entered the last quarter adrift by 48 points. While the final quarter was the Pies’ most productive period on the scoreboard, it was still poor, with the eventual margin 47 points. Another big loss to add to a season of big losses and narrow wins. For the second year in a row Collingwood’s low percentage could count as a lost game at the end of the season. Quinten Lynch has added nothing more than what was lost with the departure of Dawes. Sam Dwyer, Seedsman and to a lesser extent Elliott have progressed but there has been regression elsewhere on the list. The endeavour and effort most evident against Geelong is apparently unsustainable over consecutive weeks.

Looking ahead, the next few weeks should have been a softer part of the season with the opportunity to get the wins and some percentage. Suddenly this Friday night against Brisbane is another danger game.

I was back at junior football across the road on Sunday – the girls had a bye in their senior lacrosse. A fifty-minute driving lesson meant I was a little bit late to the game. Herb’s team has started slowly and trailed when the water-carrier in the green vest moseyed up, that familiar smirk uncontained. “We are not going very well. But much better than Collingwood the other night.” Thanks Rod. You didn’t disappoint.

Votes for the Horsborough medal: As tempting as it was to forego voting…

3 votes – Steele Sidebottom
2 votes – Brent Macaffer
1 vote – Scott Pendlebury

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. Lord Bogan says

    Shame AF, you missed a good ordinary first quarter by the Pies. BTW, I’m convinced that we are in a re-building phase. It’s just that the club can’t explicitly convey this to its fans because we have membership targets to reach.

    Where were these Bandwagoner Swans fans in 1981, when they were really needed? Makes me sick !!

  2. There must have been something in the air on Friday: Flynny, Gigs and I noticed a couple of Knackers struggling to stay awake at the lunch.
    And I did notice that you too were struggling on the train home, Andrew!

  3. AF – twas a fine lunch on Friday. I stay away from red wine in the afternoon unless I actually want to go to sleep when I get home.

    I think Flynny and I agreed that the Swans were only plodders in season 2013 as we stood around the bar at about 4.30pm. We’d changed our minds by about 10.30pm, both cosy and warm in our respective loungeroomes by then.

  4. Sounds like the Pies are driving you to (and from) drink. I find inconsistency more frustrating than just being no good. It brings it down to attitude and coaching strategies.
    Still after the way you Vics stole the U18’s Lacrosse Titles, I reckon you deserve some character building losses. Regards.

  5. Andrew Fithall says

    Can’t accuse Rod Williams of being Bandwagon fan LB. Have always known him to support the Swans – it is just of recent times that a new cheek has come into play.

    A very fine lunch Smokie and Dips. We should (not) do it more often.

    It is good to have wins Peter B – but I agree the inconsistency is frustrating. Better that than being, for example, a contemporary Melbourne supporter. As for the u/18 lacrosse nationals – the men’s may have been a steal for the Vics, but the women’s was deserved

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    I missed the game on Friday night as I was hosting a rock trivia night. First Pies game I have missed seeing at the ground or live for years. Early on I was reading out live scores of the game in between questions. As the margain became greater we “lost our live feed from the MCG”!

    Did end up watching the game on Sunday morning. Just horrible. Knocked all of the elation from the Geelong win out of me.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    *at the ground or live on TV for years* was meant to say.

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