Cam Hooke’s Collingwood Life: Hard to watch

True Believers, that was not a lot of fun.



It is, largely, of the greatest indifference to me how the rest of the competition fares; I just want the Pies to win, both regularly and well. The season is not yet over for us, though it sure felt that way on Saturday. But of the 18 teams in the competition, 17 can still make the finals. Go to This is where my little wager for Collingwood to win the Premiership last year at odds of 2000 to 1, seemed like a pretty sound investment – better than SuperBall. Not sure where we are at the moment but I suspect the odds must be getting up there.


For those who have a broader purview of footy, go to



Go Pies.




Last Weekend?




A Loss to Port Adelaide 9.8.62 to 13.15.93.


I did not enjoy that. And regardless of Buck’s pronouncement that the Port performance was the toughest we’d faced this year, there were any number of occasions when I thought we might reduce their lead from 11 to 5 points to make a game of it (stopped pretty suddenly as the Q3 progressed).  Match Reports at and Buck’s explanations at The game could have been over by quarter time (almost); certainly by half time. But we matched game Hit Outs, Clearances and Inside 50s (check the Game numbers). Where did we fall down from this broad equality? After Inside 50s, we fell down at the next steps: Scoring shots (28 to Port; 17 for us) and even more critically, Goals scored (13 to Port; 8 for us). Other detail from the game – Disposal Efficiency numbers, numbers of Clangers, etc were about even. What we badly missed was an effective Forward Line. They had Robbie Gray in the first half, and various others in the Second.  When was Reid moved?  The start of Q4. The damage was done. He should have been moved way earlier (maybe even started there) – note my pretty regular suggestions to make better use of him.  Collingwood “scrounged” the goals it scored; what build-up we had was ‘cumbersome’.  There was no smooth, effective entry to the 50.  The total Disposals (441 (us) to 363) highlight what I think was ‘over-possession’ and our conservatism (and lack of boldness). How many times were our players caught because they were too slow to dispose of the ball or even undecided as to whether to play on, as were everyone else around them?


Best? Whatever, but in relation to some named… Let me identify “junk handballs” (great term, isn’t it) where individuals are building great numbers without actually doing anything useful. Reported by Leigh Matthews (who knows a thing or two about footy), one of our quality players had 16 Disposals in Q3; none were effective. And, of course, he was not unique. Remember this issue was raised when we looked at Mitchell’s 50 Possessions when we last met Hawthorn (and why Pendles got BOG with fewer Disposals). We must clean up our handling and disposals. Players must have better awareness of what’s coming (or their team-mates could alert them if they’re ‘hot’).


Frees? It’s where and when they are awarded; not the fact that the teams got 20 Frees each for the game.


Enough whinging – if we want to make the finals we need to lift our game. See some bold suggestions below.




A win, against the odds against a team placed well above us on the ladder. And some positive performances – Cox – 6 goals; Mayne – 5; Kirby – 3; plus solid performances by Keeffe, Scharenberg, Thomas and Ramsay. Okay, yes Neil, Jesse White did okay too.  Go to


I’d love to hear from anyone who was at that game – a couple of questions:

  • Was the success of the Forwards a result of outstanding individual marking (and accurate kicking) or a consequence of how the ball was delivered to them?
  • What was the link between the Centre Clearances, Inside 50s and scoring shots?

Anticipate interest in pulling Mayne and Cox back into the 1sts; I don’t support Cox’s return – there are key differences between the 1sts and 2nds. As per below, I’d suggest we are at the point of making ‘bold changes’ rather than little steps.  See more below – some suggestions from ‘left field’.



Next week?


AFL. “One week at a time”.


This Week? Round 15 – versus Hawthorn on Sunday, 2 July at the MCG; bounce 3.20pm.


Them.  Looking at the ladder, the Hawks are in a broadly similar position to us – 16th vs our 13th place; they have 5 wins and 8 losses (same as us) and are sitting on a percentage of 79.4% compared with our (now under 100%, again) 98.9%. Both teams are still a couple of wins, minus some percentage, outside the eight – achievable this season. But, right now? Last weekend, Hawthorn, from a four-goal deficit at half time, beat Adelaide in Adelaide by 14 points. It was an outstanding second-half effort against the team most of us consider ‘Top Two’. So? What it means is Hawthorn have the capacity to win games against anyone, including us.  But they can also play poorly and be beaten – remind you of anyone? Looking back to our Round 9 defeat of them, Mitchell had 50 Disposals – remember the discussion about ‘effective disposals’ (see my comments, above, on this issue).  Okay, here’s a big call – if Hawthorn make the Finals (as they can) they will get to the last two weeks of the Finals.


People / Things to watch for. Since (and including our Round 9 clash) Hawthorn’s results have been ‘up and down’. Including last weekend (and working backwards) they have a Win over Adelaide, a Loss to GC, Loss to Port, a Win over Sydney and a loss to us. Key performers over this time include their Mids (Mitchell, Burgoyne and Smith) and their Half Back line ( Burton, Birchall and Hodge). Neither Roughead at FF or McEvoy in the Ruck have troubled the Best, though both can be match-winners (and are, perhaps, overdue for a performance).


Implications. Grundy might have a better game than last week, but needs to link with our Mids, not “kick and hope”.  Our Mids need to dominate the Clearances, particularly watching Mitchell’s or, perhaps more significantly, Burgoyne’s influence (maybe even Hodge’s influence ahead of Mitchell’s). This is where we focus on ‘moves by the coach during the game’ – “try them and see; and try something else, maybe” – maybe Greenwood to be prepared to tag Burgoyne (Burgoyne last week: 26 Disposals, 5 Marks, 6 Tackles and 4 Clearances; plus a Goal – a pretty fair day at the office)? What to do about their HB Line? Go over it, or run through it – perhaps place Pendles at CHF to break their defence apart? Our Forwards?  See my comments above re Reid.  Perhaps the time has come to try something a bit different.


Us. While, technically, 13th versus 16th, this game is huge. Both teams must win and keep winning to have any chance of making the finals. We have performed, but never for a whole game this season; but when we do it is magnificent.  We are coming off losses each side of our bye; the most recent was a pretty sound demonstration that Port are better than us.


Ins / Outs / Maybe’s? I hope both Reid and Goldsack are okay – Grundy owes Reid a beer for the ‘ride’ for his specky; the team owes Goldsack a million beers for his continued commitment. And Varcoe? We have missed his ‘run’. And, maybe Mayne and Kirby into the Forward Line? Who to rest? Brownie, Crocker, Aish, maybe Dunn, maybe Hoskin-Elliott? We are now at the point that we should try different options – be revolutionary; not evolutionary – and be willing to change things during the game. So, some ideas: Reid Forward swapping with Howe; Kirby in, on the basis of his outstanding dynamic performance in the Twos, to replace the Elliott-role is ideal; shift Pendles to CHF to create the link there (and challenge their Half Back dominance) and to free up space for the other Mids in the Centre – expect more of Treloar for the whole game. Schade back for his one on one defence (particularly if Dunn goes)?


Game Plan? The other major difference between us and Port, when they were dominating, was their percentage ‘play-on’. They were way ahead of us and far more direct. I would encourage this, noting the requirement to deliver passes; not just hope someone is there to collect it (as measured by DE).


Other ideas or changes? What did I say last week? Oh yes: “Reid Forward, possible swapping with Howe? Also as above, I would love to see some influence from the coach’s box during the game to responds to events as they arise.” This was key last week – see my comments above. What do you think?


We should win this.


Weather?  Melbourne – High chance of light rain; cold. Look at sleeved jumpers and ‘stops’ on the boots.


Game Previews:

  • Agenda. Michael Christian’s Agenda at the Pies website. There now. Go to: Worth a read.
  • AFL Match Day Preview – Next few days.
  • Natoli’s ‘Ultimate Preview’ will be on the Pies Home Page at in the next few days.
  • The Age Preview – Should be at in a few days.
  • Expert Tips – will be at  Not sure who the ‘experts’ will pick to win. Let’s see and note the margins.

My PicksPies by 29 points. BOG: Treloar – 37 touches @ 87.4% DE.  Reid – four Goals; Mayne – three Goals; Kirby – two Goals; Fas – six Goal Assists. Crowd: 59,000 (very poor). Best competition: Greenwood vs Burgoyne.


TV? 7mate from 3.00pm.




This weekend Round 11 – Sunday, 2 July vs Footscray at Victoria Park; bounce: 11.45am. Enough time to watch this game and then get to the G for the main event.


Footscray are sitting 4th (just under where Port Melbourne were) on 132.4% with 6 Wins from 10 games compared with our 12th place on the ladder with 3 wins from 9 games and 86.1%. With the win over Port Melbourne behind them, a win over Footscray is a real possibility; Go Pies. Who to watch for in our side? Well it depends who gets pulled into the AFL side – Of those remaining look for Keeffe (Back; rotating Ruck), Scharenberg (Back) and Kirby (Forward).  And, of course, Daicos, and probably Brown.



Other Things:


  • ‘Eddie Watch’. Quiet. Very concerning when he is quiet.

The Future? 



The next few weeks are critical. One week at a time.


Welcome your views?


Reporting.  C’mon people – your Reports?


Footy Almanac. The Footy Almanac site includes us and others. See: Worth a browse.


Go Pies.





  1. I have become suspicious of late that many blokes, and their teams, are being assessed solely on the basis of the increasingly gargantuan amount of statistics produced each week. This statistical business has become a whole industry of its own within the Appalling Football League and an end unto itself. I have begun to wonder if some commentators are actually watching the game or their spreadsheets unfolding before them. They will say “Player X had 37 disposals” and I, having watched the game, will struggle to remember even 5 of them being useful. And yet Robbie Gray can have about 10 and be a matchwinner! Not a week goes by without some new category being mentioned to explain something or other. Like many things, it has become far too American and it is way past time to get back to watching the game.

  2. Cam Hooke says

    Totally concur. Hence my comments about ‘junk handballs’ and the assessment of effectiveness. Cheers.

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