Almanac Footy: Finals Diary Chapter 8 – Pride

 

Finals Diary Chapter 8  –  Pride.

 

Grand Final Match Report

 

This Lions flag was supposed to be the one that brought a sense of finality, perspective and closure to the childish and parochial fandom I’ve clung to since 1981. I was four then. Swept up in the technicolour marvel that was Fitzroy. The antithesis of the Superman like jumpers that heroes like Quinlan, Rendell and Wilson were wearing was the binary drab black and white of the empire. We were a story, of colour, hope, dare and dash – but there was another story being told in black and white. Just as glorious in its way. It just wasn’t my story. We need Collingwood. Superman needs kryptonite to be interesting. Captain Kirk needed Khan. The English need the French. Rocky needed Ivan Drago. Sampras needed Agassi. Federer and Nadal. We need Collingwood, of course it had to be Collingwood. I was ready to move beyond the t-shirt wearing, badge buying, jump out of my seat screaming fan phase and use the flag yesterday to become a more mature fan. The type that throws on a pristine new member’s scarf over whatever ‘smart casual’ attire he was wearing. To go to games, but not to scour the internet for morsels of news about training injuries, trade rumours. To make football part of a rich and varied life. To renew my membership breezily, with a nonchalant lightness – in the same way one buys Vietnamese takeaway, or goes to a movie, or buys theatre tickets. It didn’t quite work out that way.

 

I go for a wander before entering the ground. There are car park barbecues, celebrities a plenty. Patrick Cripps wanders by with a couple of mates. He’s trying to avoid eye contact but is still stopped for a few photos. The ten year old in me spies Alastair Lynch and asks him for a quick selfie.

 

 

 

He’s the very personification of the complicated history that is our club. A Fitzroy champion, a big name Bears recruit and then a unifying figure when his two teams merged. He was the last Fitzroy player to ever be named an All Australian in 1993.

 

Des Headland had a glorious few seasons at Brisbane, including a premiership in 2002 against the Magpies. He’s perhaps someone only diehards would recognise twenty years later though. I guess that’s me.

 

 

Fellow Almanacker, Jarrod Landells and I exchange a few fanboy messages and we agree to meet for a brief pilgrimage at the Haydn Bunton statue. It’s the first time I’ve met a fellow Alamanacker in person and only strengthens my appreciation for this community of writers as well as my resolve to get to a function in 2024.

 

 

I was the only Lion on the ‘Collingwood Express’ from Traralgon that morning. It’s reassuring to find my people.

 

I was one of the lucky ones. The ballot gave me a ticket yesterday, up in level four. Our little clump was like the singles table at a wedding. Some who were separated from their partners in other seats, others, like me who left families in front of the TV at home. There are Queenslanders everywhere. They are just like us Royboys, having them en-masse in Melbourne feels like a cavalry. They’ve had a couple of generations of fandom now these Bears of old, they’ve weathered tough years as well as giddying highs. There are nods of gratitude or respect at the scarf I’m wearing, the same one I’ve had since 81. Something old. Maybe it’s the wearing of a scarf in thirty degree heat they respect. My 2018 members polo – another deliberate choice, it’s completely maroon like Traralgon, like Queensland for that matter. Something new. There’s a polyglot tapestry to us Lions. Leigh Matthews; something borrowed perhpaps?

 

I’m an historic fan but a contemporary one as well. I’m one of the youngest of the old Fitzroy. I was four when Bernie won the Brownlow, nine when Paul Roos should have. That’s an issue we Lions have, it’s a motley assortment of colours. Different blues, maroons, reds. Different antecedent iterations of who we are, who we were, what we have become. The all-encompassing black and white speaks to a storied and unbroken history for Collingwood. Homogenised and pure. Champion Peters’ begat Darcy’s, Nick’s and Joshes. Our eras and chapters are visually present. There are Bears jumpers, deep maroons, bright coloured reds. Bernie Quinlan jumpers. Jason Akermanis badges. They are one but many; we are many but one.

 

There’s a solitary Collingwood fan amongst us. I’m not sure what would be worse, missing a ticket or being the only Magpie amongst a throng of Lions. She’s like an American in an international tourist group, she seems to have lost the ability to have a non-verbal thought. We find out quite quickly that she’ll be voting ‘No’ in the upcoming referendum, and she encourages us to do the same. She doesn’t think booing the ‘Welcome to Country’ is okay but agrees with Sam Newman that it is overdone – did we know that they get paid thousands and thousands for just for doing that? It’s outrageous, says she. She also speaks for all of us in hoping that the Pies will be kicking towards our end in the final quarter. She again assures us that she’ll be quiet but then in the next breath that we must all be sort of hoping that Darcy with become a premiership captain today. That she’s sure we agree that would be for the best. In her silence, she also asks if we really thought that “That Lions player” really deserved his Brownlow the other night?

 

There are some pyrotechnics accompanied by KISS. There’s a sea of kids in makeup, all of them wanting to rock’n’roll all night and party every day. Smoke fills the arena, there are some dancers positioned on top of the screen at the northern end. As the proud owner of a spinal compression fracture, courtesy of falling from a ladder two years ago, I wince with psychosomatic muscle memory but am also sort of in awe. The ‘Waltzing Matilda’ arrangement and performance was exquisite. ‘She’s much better than that awful Delta Goodrem,’ our Collingwood guest informs us all in her silence, ‘I just can’t stand that woman, she never shuts up, every time you see her on TV she’s always talking, doesn’t know when to be quiet that one.’

 

What do you really notice when you are in the thrall of one of the best games ever? Honestly, when Brisbane pegged back the difference to go into quarter time basically even it was clear that this was going to be an epic. It was going to be tight. But the problem with being a fan is, I only really see our team. I can tell you about Zac Bailey’s goal, about the man-child Cam Rayner bustling and bumping, about Kiddy Coleman’s zest. Daicos? He is silk that kid – just cannot be tackled, he’s better to watch live than on television. But you miss the details.

 

I don’t think he’d had a kick at quarter time, but the interactive screen DJ invites a Country Roads sing along which reminds everyone – Collingwood, Collingwood fans, Gene Simmons – that Charlie Cameron is the true rockstar of the Lions’ world. Imagine for a second if that goal he kicked at the end to put us in front with minutes to go had been the matchwinner? That could have been the story. But there’s also DeGoey whose immediate reply was similarly energising. It was also DeGoey whose after the siren goal going into halftime. He’s that sort of player. There’s a Collingwood story just as irrepressible as ours. My daughters at home are texting me with delighted and exuberant emojis with every Charlie goal. Theirs is a fandom that can ebbs and flow, but this week and this game seem to be franking them as Lions lifers. He’s just that sort of player. His goals come when needed, they have a flair that electrifies. But then, they have Bobby Hill. His mark may become the ‘Jesaulenko’ moment from this game. His goals are no better than Charlies, but there are more of them. Every quarter tells the same story. They have a small lead for about fifteen minutes before we sneak in front, making it seem like the game is about to shift – then some red time goals give them the lead back at every single break.

 

Games like these have moments that would be too easy to forensically analyse and apportion blame. Individuals that would love to have their time again to make a better choice, and it’s true, that Brisbane errors led to a number of Collingwood goals. But the Grand Final, which we played in yesterday by the way, was built on great work and decisions from these same men over the past five years. They have their iconic moments now, their memories. But even though we lost, so do we. Joe’s snap to give us hope with seconds to play. Brisbane attacked with a style and badge of gameness that could so easily have tilted it our way. Truth be told, with the ball entering their forward line seemingly infinitely more times than it did ours, and Collingwood having ten more scoring shots, we were maybe fortunate to be in the game until the final siren. The game was pinchable, but it would have been a heist – the better team won.

 

McCluggage was our best. Lachie worked his way into the game. Harris has had better games, but he was still Harris. There is something even more noble and stoic about him in defeat than there is in victory. Daniher’s game was one befitting his storied family name. Coleman had a quiet second half after being the clear best on ground for the first two quarters.

 

It sucks to lose a close one and we were mighty. Had we won, I may well be a footy centrist and moderate now. But there are many years to live, many seasons to come, many stories to be told still. Next year, will be West Coast of 2006? Adelaide of 2017 or something else entirely? Five seasons at the pointy end in a row now is something to savour. If it continues, we become a Geelong a Sydney type of club. Kudos Collingwood. Darcy and Fly, well deserved congratulations to you and yours. Go well Lions. I’m proud and keen for 2024.

 

COLLINGWOOD   4.4     9.9     10.15     12.18 (90)
BRISBANE            3.0     9.3     11.5       13.8 (86)

 

GOALS
Collingwood: Hill 4, Crisp 2, De Goey 2, N.Daicos, Mihocek, Pendlebury, Sidebottom
Brisbane: 
Cameron 3, Daniher 3, Bailey 2, McCarthy 2, McCluggage 2, Robertson

 

BEST
Collingwood:
 Hill, N.Daicos, Crisp, Howe, Mitchell, Pendlebury
Brisbane: McCluggage, Daniher, Coleman, Andrews, Bailey, Cameron

 

 

Read Shane Reid’s other reports HERE.

 

 

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About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.

Comments

  1. Fine work with your diaries, Shane.
    Well played.
    Very well played, indeed.

    Terrific game.
    Keep writing.

  2. george smith says

    Bit sorry that you got the worst of us Shane, the spirit of those antagonizing Goodes and Winmar. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be a Magpie…

    It was a glorious day in September, but I feel it was low key compared to 2010 and 1990. The Footy Almanac has changed over the years, with more stories about pubs and music than premierships. We went from the warm bath of watching “Take the Steps” at the movies, to the freezing sub-antarctic horrors of the past three weeks.

    Anyway, as the American commentators said about the California Angels, a team not used to winning:
    “Food tastes better, drink tastes sweeter, girls are prettier and the sun shines brighter when your team wins.”

    Hopefully the sun will shine brighter for the Combine, just not against our mob!

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