Almanac People: Side by Side

Looking back on a moment during the 2016 season, when my Pies’ scarf and hat were briefly put aside. My 12 year old daughter cried when she read this, thinking I had forsaken our team. It’s just a moment in time, not forever. 



The last time I received mail from the Collingwood Football Club, it was a package from beyond my father’s grave. My 2016 season’s cap and scarf arrived in a padded envelope in early November, 2015. Meanwhile, my dad’s ashes sat in a box in a funeral director’s home. He had paid for my membership as a present before he died.


But suddenly, this last week, I’m just not sure I can stick it out with the ‘Side by Side’, and this is truly disturbing, on a very personal level. The recent behaviour of Collingwood President Eddie McGuire, in the now infamous MMM commentary segment about Age journalist Caroline Wilson, has made my Maggie loving blood run cold. Ice cold. It’s not just the disgraceful comments made by McGuire, and others, about holding Caro underwater and rallying the crowd to join them, but the way the Club has handled it since.


There was Eddie’s qualified apology, then a half-hearted update, then the Board backed Eddie, and he made a seemingly more sincere video apology. Meanwhile Collingwood footy club supporters ranted on Collingwood’s Facebook page that Eddie ‘should never have had to apologise’. I couldn’t find any rebuttal of these supporters’ opinions from the Club. We’re all supposed to get over it, and move on.


I was born into the black and white, and have loved them with all my might-through the years of Daicos, Mark Williams, Rene Kink, Peter Moore, Billy Picken, through the drawn Grand Final of 77, to the victories of 1990 and 2010.


We grew up watching footy with dad on the wooden benches of the MCG. Our cathedral, where the souls of fans made up a large, messy family. Go Collingwood! dad would yell, in a guttural mangle. Wearing his beige overcoat, and with his member’s cap on, he would yell both support and condemnation. There was a bond that came with this joint barracking-an ‘in it forever’, love you always, forgiving, long-suffering, celebrating, dreaming, hoping, ecstatic belief in the team.


When I was nearly a teenager, I ripped the stitching on my denim skirt to bits, as I wrestled with the tension of watching Twiggy Dunne line up and kick to give us a draw in the Grand Final against North Melbourne in 1977.  In the 1990 Grand Final, I sprawled, massively hungover, on the top deck to see the Pies beat Essendon. It seemed like just me and Dad, up there, up high, on top of the G. The roar of the crowd, and our victorious team song, sort of flew away, into the sky.


Through two back-to-back losing Grand Finals against the Brisbane Lions, the 2002 game with my first child, 3 weeks old, strapped to my front, and clad in a black and white onesie. The boy slept until the game became dire in that final quarter, then his wailing began and my milk and tears began to flow too. Wasted. We both cried that day, him from hunger; me from a different hunger. I trudged, beaten, from the ground.


And then there was 2010. The Grand Final against St Kilda, which Dad was too sick to attend, and the famous replay which gave us our first premiership in twenty years. Our whole family was there, dad being well enough to attend the replay. My daughter and I had front row seats, and as the players ran their victory lap, they stopped to embrace my 6 year old girl. ‘Sweetheart!’ said Darren Jolly, as he stopped to hug her.



So, there’s black and white mail for me again. It hurts to see it. ‘Supporting our Players and the Club you Love.’ I can’t bring myself to open it. I have picked it up, and turned it over. I feel ripped off. Can’t rip the plastic off. I am trying to imagine my whole heart barracking at a game for our boys, but I’m not sure I can feel ‘side by side we stick together’. In fact, even thinking of singing our song makes me feel sad. Our song. Perhaps this feeling is tinged with grief, for dad who is gone.


‘Go Pies!’ I like to yell at the game. But, no, for now, I’m putting aside the hat and scarf. My heart has turned a little cold, and the mail will stay unopened. Sorry, Dad. I hope it’s not forever. It can’t be forever.


Good Old Collingwood Forever…


Postcript: Less than a week after writing this, the team played a game and won, and when the team song came on, I sang it with gusto, in a taxi, with a full heart. I had felt a twisted gut feeling for that week, but I know the Club is bigger than the President. Go Pies!


PPS Took myself and my daughter to  last game of 2016 season v Hawks. Thriller! It was great to be back in the stands supporting our team. My daughter pleaded with me that night ‘can we please go A LOT more next year, mum? I forgot how much I LOVE going to the footy and seeing the Pies.’ Side by Side We Stick Together.


Pies fan, sharing black and white days at the footy with my family. Observer and writer, with hints of nostalgia.


  1. Love this Anna.
    I follow the Woods, too.
    And recognise your thoughts.

    A mate of mine gave away Collingwood with Eddie’s appointment as President. Couldn’t abide the various conflicts of interest.

    We all have our thresholds, of course.
    And they are great to explore.
    But yes, I think a club should and does exist as a greater entity than just one person.

    Good stuff.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great stuff Anna,
    Went off Pies and football in general for a year or so. A pocket rocket called Jamie Elliott helped me to believe again. Eddie’s use by date probably passed 3-4 years ago. The problem is no one is brave enough to launch a challenge at Collingwood. He has the other power-brokers in his pocket.
    My first clear footy memories were the 1977-81 GF defeats. If we can survive that, Eddie is a piece of cake. Enjoyed the read. Cheers

  3. Great stuff Anna from me too. As a Port supporter, I was going to invite you over to our side! Not much colour to change, just a splash of teal here and there, whatever. Then I got to the PS and PPS, bummer, she’s back on the horse…

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic Anna. Great that you’ve made it back to the footy. With your daughter. #sidebyside
    The club is much biger than any individual, be they captain, coach, president or bootstudder.
    The past few years have been tough. Hopefully we get back on track next year.
    Hope you get to go A LOT more next year!

  5. Cat from the Country says

    Lovely yarn Anna.
    I understand how you could not like your life-long footy club with the dubious comments of the president, being supported by the board and the feral comments on social media.
    But sanity prevailed. Your daughter pleaed for more next year … and you realised how much you love footy and wanted it in your life.
    Welcome back to footy!

  6. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments. It’s my first Almanac post, so great to hear from people. Bucko, that was a bit cheeky!! flashing the teal, but thanks for your welcoming offer! Not that I would never change-what Pies supporter could? E Regnans, overstuffed Eddie can only blind out the light briefly. Phillip, remember when Jamie arrived and had no tatts? Didn’t take long for him to get inked, did it? Thanks Luke, I like the A LOT plan A LOT! And Country Cat, sanity indeed prevailed. Went to Hawks Cats last night-what a match! Cheers all #sidebyside

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