Cam Hooke’s Collingwood life – Round 23 preview

True Believers, Okay, this is it.  Against the odds, we win it and progress; and scare the hell out of all the other teams who have pretty much written us off?  Or we fight hard and lose and head into the ‘bad times’ with our heads held high looking forward to 2015?  Or we don’t do either of those things and we spend a most unsatisfying ‘bad times’ whinging about 2014?  Which is it to be?

This Game. Friday, 29 August; Bounce: 7.50pm. Hawthorn (2nd) at the G.  Over the last five weeks how have they been travelling? Hawks:  Win (W) – Geelong, Loss(L) – Freo, W – Melbourne, W – Bulldogs, W – Sydney.  Us: L – Adelaide, W – Port, L – WCE (thrashed), L – Brisbane Lions (thrashed|) and, most recently, that fantastic, gutsy win against GWS.

Hawthorn, apart from dropping that game against Freo have beaten Geelong and Sydney and are the favourites for our game by a country mile.  But our team last week, and our team this week, are different beasts to the earlier ones.  Interesting statistic at the AFL Match Centre ( – Hawthorn leave us for dead on nearly all of them, except one: Tackles (we win 72 to 61) and they are only marginally ahead of us on Frees so we might expect a reasonable Umpiring performance (Yeah right – optimist, as always?).  And if Hawthorn rest some people for the week following…

Other games this Round?  Sydney beating Richmond would be good, thank you very much.  Freo and Port will be interesting but doesn’t affect affect this week; maybe next week.  And that’s about it – the others don’t really have any impact on us in the short term.

Them. Hawthorn are sitting Second on the Ladder.  They are the reigning Premiers and after last week’s performance against Geelong are looking a real contender for ‘Back to Back’ (particularly if, like me, you are less enamoured with Sydney).  The key to their win last week was their step into “Finals’ footy”.  It wasn’t pretty but it was dogged.  They dragged themselves back from a six-goal deficit half way through the Third Quarter to win by a fair margin (23).  They are impressive across the ground, and have depth in their Reserve (Box Hill) side waiting to get back in, particularly the four dropped after the previous week – note McEvoy’s BOG for Box Hill last week. I’m not going to try to be comprehensive about the players to watch – most are Premiership winners.  Watch for Roughy in front of goal, Lake down back and Hale, Lewis, Shiels, Mitchell and Ceglar everywhere. Suckling is out; Gunston – maybe out; Gibson – ?, Hodge – ?, Rioli – unlikely to rush back.  Check the Previews – links below.

Us:  See the Hawks’ Opposition Analysis at  It pretty much says it all – lists the main Outs, identifies Harry and Elliott as potential Ins, but doesn’t say anything about the Reserves players who have stepped up.  We could win this, with a little luck, a bit of Hawthorn overconfidence and maybe a few Hawks ‘rested’.  I loved Gleeson’s view of the game,, an excerpt of which is:

Dead or alive? There are dead rubbers, rubbers that are lifeless but not dead and rubbers that do not yet know they are dead or alive, then the rubber that bristles with life. Dead, alive or the living dead informs whether you play alive or dead.  Hawthorn-Collingwood is a living dead rubber. Collingwood seldom defeats Hawthorn with strong teams and this team is anything but strong even if the Pies sound like Monty Python’s Black Knight publicly trying to convince others as much as themselves that they are not mortally wounded.  Theoretically Collingwood can make the Eight if they win. Theoretically England can win another soccer World Cup, too.”

  • Ins / Outs? Injuries and tests will drive this.  If you thought the team that ran on last week looked like a Reserve side plus ‘a couple’, by the end of the game (with Swanny, Caff and Young gone) the only seasoned player left ‘with the kids’ was Pendles (an exaggeration, I acknowledge, but close). Maybe Harry and Elliott back, unlikely Tooves.  This week we’re going to need those ‘kids’ (and more of them) to step up.  I’m looking to be surprised as some of these youngsters ‘shine’ at the next level.  Also see Previews, links below. Wait and see, tomorrow night for the selections.  Your suggestions?  Oh yes – congratulation to Jack Frost for playing in every game this season – the only one to do so (assuming his selection).
  • Focus?  No, a change from the past.  I would suggest we approach this game differently.  To win this we have to focus, not on talent or individual brilliance, but on endeavour and application, by everyone.  We have to run and chase and tackle them into the ground.  We have to work non-stop.  We have to play like we did in GF 2002 (Remember? The first one against Brisbane; my “Best GF game without a win” – remember Bucks’ performance?), with one difference – we have to win this time.  That’s the replay I would use to show the team before the game; and
  • My tips?  Pies by 7; BOG – Pendles – 37 touches; Karnezis (7), Elliott (4). Crowd – 69 000 (hope the locals come out in force).  Your tips?


TV?  Yay; ‘Free to Air’ coverage again (That’s two weeks in a row – fantastic; OK, I’ll stop whinging about Fox and the AFL’s cosy deals).  7mate from 7.30 pm.


Retirements?  So long Lynchy.  227 games for the Eagles and Pies; a terrific contribution, particularly to the VFL side and the development of our young rucks.  Well done.  Go through our list of players at and see who else you might consider delisting?  Your suggestions?  Mine – keep Ball as “run with” player in the absence of Caff and maybe consider Young and White – haven’t been a huge success?  The list gives us huge confidence in the future.  Add Darcy Moore as a ‘Father & Son’ pick (he is being touted as a potential Number 1 in the ranking) and the next few years look very promising.  Of course there is some talk of Dayne Beams joining his brother in Brisbane next year.

Go Pies.

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