Cam Hooke’s Collingwood Life: ANZAC Day – The Big One

True Believers, all.

Side by side, we will prevail.

Interesting isn’t it?  A week or two back we’d already been well written off as a Finals contender.  And for season’s end, Essendon were picked above us but still outside the Eight.  A lot can happen in a few weeks.  After our start against Brisbane, we’ve bounced back from an effort against an improving Adelaide (in my view a serious contender) to perform against St Kilda.  I’m not convinced that wasn’t more a very poor performance by the Saints than it was a reflection of our capacity, but we played it hard right through to the end – well done.

Essendon, similarly performed ‘adequately’ against a lacklustre Carlton (apologies for the tautology) after a very close win over (the Premiers) Hawthorn preceded by a narrow loss to Sydney (another GF’alist) in Round 1, these two games against serious contenders.  So what is going on?  Picks are always interesting.  Who (thanks Mr Connollywould put North at 4, Geelong at 7 and Adelaide at 8, at season’s end?  All heading in different directions now, in my humble view.  And the ‘running teams’ – Richmond and GWS, also in the bottom half of the Ladder.  But, it is a very long season and there’s a heap of time to enjoy our ‘ups’, lament our ‘downs’ and hope we “produce” when we need to.  Go Pies.


Round 4.   This is a biggie, both in terms of the opposition and the occasion.

25 April, the G and a crowd of 95,000 plus. 
Bounce 2.40pm. 
7mate, from 2.30pm (check local guides).
Weather:  Late shower forecast (possibly heavy), windy.  Sort of a typical Melbourne Autumn day.

It doesn’t get any bigger in my view; not even the GF. The GF is such a ‘corporate event’ nowadays that supporters of all clubs, all but two of which are not actually playing, attend. This one is really the biggest where there are only two sides represented – us and them.

Us:  Okay, last week I asked for ferocity to be our hallmark.  And that, apart from bits of the First Quarter, is what the team gave us; all of them, for nearly the whole game, importantly through to the final siren – attack on the ball, support running, chasing, and then more of the same.  Simple!!  This week we need, in addition to that, to demonstrate a bit more talent – ball handling and delivery (measured by Disposal Efficiency), good ‘choices’ (not sure how to measure those but you pick up a feel watching), alternative avenues to goal (as measured by Marks inside 50 and the success of shots at goal) and domination around the ground, particularly at the Centre bounce and at stoppages (measured by Stoppages and Hit Outs); and ferocity (again) as measured by Tackles, Contested Possessions and 1%’ers).

Our Forwards need to be providing separate targets – last week there were a couple of occasions where Trav and White, and their defenders, were in the same pack – not useful for us; better for the defenders.  When Trav was one on one, his strength can dominate.  Crumbers have been doing well – great spread of goal-kickers.

Midfield – great for three Quarters.  Not sure what happened in the First Quarter, but it was clear on a couple of occasions a successful Centre bounce ‘tap’ led straight to a goal.  I don’t like the reliance on Grundy on his own (love his work around the ground, particularly his tackling ferocity), especially with White filling in.  This may have worked against Brisbane and St Kilda.  It won’t work against the better oppositions.

Backline – Pretty good individual domination of the opposition, but not tested last week.  We still need to be looking for drive out of the Backline and we need to work out our ‘second-man-up’ routine (with, possibly, a loose man in the Backline?).   And I’m still not happy with our kick-ins.  They need to be perfect; nothing is sillier than giving the ball to an attacking opposition in the 50.  A good example of how to do it right?  GWS with Heater kicking in.  Your thoughts?

Them: I have invited a colleague of mine who supports Essendon to provide me with some comments on how the Dons will take on the game.  Thanks Phil.  His comments are reproduced below:

Why will Essendon beat Collingwood?

If Essendon are to defeat the Pies this week they will have to return to the intensity they showed in the first two rounds; against Carlton they were poor in both clearances and contested ball. If they allow Collingwood first use they will struggle.

But the Bombers have been able to apply pressure around the ball and get it back. Cale Hooker and Hurley have been the major beneficiaries down back, where they will need that mid-field pressure to continue if they are to curb Cloke’s influence. Cloke always plays well against the Bombers and Hurley may get first crack at him in order to allow Hooker to take defensive marks and rebound for the Dons.  Baguley and Hibberd will need to pay respect to the Pies’ small forwards, but the Bombers’ back six have been in great form. The Pies will also need to consider ‘old father time’ Fletch, who is acting as a sweeper down back and if he is not made accountable for an opponent, will set up forward forays through his accurate delivery and switching of play from deep in defence.

The Pies’ mid-field is formidable and Bellchambers will need to give Watson, Zacka and Heppell a good look at it if we are to reduce the impact of the Pies’ guns Pendlebury and Swan. I think Hird will set Melksham and Howlett to shut down at least one of these guys as they link up well together and the Bombers must reduce their influence.

If the Dons can get some ascendency at the clearances and continue to get the ball back through their pressure, up forward Carlisle and Daniher, along with cameos from Goddard and Chapman, will make it hard for the Collingwood backs to keep Essendon from kicking a winning score.”

Sun Tzu – know your enemy (for all the uniforms and ex-uniforms).

Back to me.  My only other point regarding Essendon I raised in my email earlier this week.  Leigh Matthews identifies the Essendon ‘spine’ as potentially the best in the competition.  Will this mean that they are fixated on the ‘Corridor’ ?  Do we need to control the Wings or can we cut the ‘Corridor’ at one of its points?  What does this mean for selections – another tall Back?  Anyone jump to mind?

Game Previews:

AFL: Match Day  Betting is currently substantially favouring an Essendon win ($1.40 to $3.00) ;

Collingwood’s preview: And it’s a happy day. DAVID NATOLI is BACK! 

Rohan Connolly’s Footy Fix preview for Fairfax. He’s picking Essendon.

Other Statistics. Watch for Pendles’ Frees. I think he was ‘head-hunted’ last week – 7 Frees For; none Against for the game.  Let’s see how he goes this week.

My picks:  Pies by 17.  BOG – Swanny (again – 34 touches, 73% Disposal Efficiency); Karnezis – 4; Trav – 3.  Your guesses?



Eddy Watch.  Very quiet.  Not like him at all;

The Collingwood vs Essendon history from

Waiting for the B-sample test results for Keeffe and Thomas. Taken a few days ago now: The Latest.


Remember to get organised for the day.  For those not going to the game, in Canberra, watch the TV coverage from 2.30pm and then head to Manuka for the GWS / GC game; bounce at 5.40pm.  Support GWS.


Cheer hard; make lots of noise – “Collingwooooood”; “Collingwoooood”.

Go Pies.



  1. True believers,

    Sharing some pro-Essendon thoughts in this forum makes me feel like (depending on your politics) Leigh Hubbard speaking at a HR Nicholls Society dinner, or John Roskam keynote speaking at The Australia Institute; slightly uncomfortable and highly unlikely to find much agreement.

    In the spirit of some Essendon/Collingwood détente, here’s my two-bob’s worth:

    Firstly; there’s only two teams who should feature in a non-Friday/Saturday/Sunday ANZAC Day game at the MCG. There’s a case to argue for any combination of Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton, Richmond, Geelong and Hawthorn, but the historic rivalry between the Bombers and the Pies is part of what made the ANZAC Day game so special. The Zaharakis goal, Hirdy on the rampage in 2003 and 2004, McGough’s destruction of Essendon in ‘02, the iconic image of Bucks, arms raised and watching the ball on its way to goal as the rain pours and he seals a Pie win.

    Secondly; I am the undisputed, all-comers, World-wide Greatest o.a.Time ‘Most Pessimistic Essendon Supporter’. Born in the disbelief of the outcome of the following matches:

    1983 Grand Final v Hawthorn
    1990 Grand Final v yup…
    1999 Preliminary Final v Carlton

    Basically, if I’m confident of an Essendon win get a quote on building a fall-out shelter and stock up on canned goods. Or bet the mortgage to back whomever the Sash are playing.

    Like Liverpool – Everton, or Manchester United – Manchester City derbies, throw the stats and form lines out the window. Another reason these two clubs make the ANZAC Day game so special is the intensity both sides bring to the game. It’s already been mentioned by Cam, but this fixture is as close as you’ll get to a Grand Final atmosphere and to both sides’ credit, everything is left on the park. The forecast of putrid weather for Saturday only intensifies the likelihood in my mind that this game will go either way.

    Leading into Saturday’s ripper, I notice things are traveling nicely for the Pies. St Kilda played Dane Swan back into form for his customary 700+ possessions against us, Trav Cloke missed sitters from 20 meters out last weekend, so he’s a moral to slot goal of the year blindfolded and kicking into the wind from the Jolimont railyards in time-on in the last qtr to win your mob the game and who knows what the Saints were thinking trying to target and physically intimidate a champion like Pendlebury?

    From the Dons, I’m really liking their skill level at the moment – finding targets in heavy traffic (perhaps what Lethal is referring to with his ‘best spine in the competition’ call?), their ability to stand up in tackles and to not lose their feet at the contest. They’re saying it’s not a factor, but I’m still not convinced the absence of any NAB Challenges footy isn’t a factor for the Bombers ability to run out games. They were done by Sydney in the second half, almost copped it in the neck from a rampaging Hawthorn in the final quarter and… well… (sentiments I’m sure you’d all agree with when it comes to beating Carlton) WHO CARES HOW?!?!?!??! We beat Carlton!

    From the heart of the 3040, may the best team wearing a red sash win

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