Collingwood less gone this week

The Collingwood Football Club might not be as gone for the 2012 season as it was last week.

However, if you are brave enough to announce a renaissance based on one good quarter of Carringbush footy, where the opponent (the mighty Cats) virtually handed goals out like strip club cards at an Adelaide Oval Test, then perhaps there is some hope for the defending runners-up this August, and maybe even in September.

While, to the uninitiated, the inexperienced, and the rabid, the Pies appeared the dominant side on a wet Saturday night at the MCG, those who stroke their beards while watching footy know only too well it would be an act of remarkable faith to take too much from that win.

It was like Geelong had been to the International Turnover Convention during the week, and attended the sessions of some of the world’s experts. They went to the session on double and triple handling before coughing up the footy; the session on the correct placement of the hands on the hips while you watch the Sherrin being swept to the other end; and, in the evenings, at the convention, they’d clearly been to see The Three Stooges because they just kept getting in each other’s way, knocking each other over, and they managed to put in place everything bar the double poke to the eyeballs.

It had all started so well.  When, at the opening bounce, Trent West leapt over the top of Darren Jolly to hit the flying Stevie J who put it lace-out on the chest of big Tom Hawkins, lounge-rooms yelled words like “Varcoe” and “2011 Grand Final”. Sadly Travis wasn’t kicking for goal.

But the remainder of that damaging first quarter was more reminiscent of 1989 than anything else.

If you go back and watch that match again, as I am sure Collingwood and Geelong types will find time to do, you will notice how dominant Trent West was in the ruck all night, how cleanly he palmed the footy, and how brilliantly Swan and Pendlebury roved to him for clearance after clearance after clearance to Collingwood. That was just plain craziness.

And that put the Cats on the back foot, until things settled down after half-time, and the Cats, despite their inability to sort things out, held their own against a Collingwood side which had pretty much put the cue in the rack.


It had been a big week of writing work in the Barossa Valley and I had returned to my brother’s place in Adelaide. He and nephew Samuel had seen Adelaide Lutheran C Grade lose to Athelstone. For the Adelaide Lutheran, Yank’s footy career had just entered its sixth decade. A bustling centreman of the Tim Watson type (with a little Micky Conlan thrown in at times) Yank has been reduced to hanging around the goal-posts (for support) and when he snagged a mark 30 metres out he failed to make the distance. “Go the torp,” some wag had yelled from the sideline.

Veal parma (very Adelaide) and a bottle of Zema shiraz (very Coonawarra) set the scene as we settled in to watch. I was having a little look at a betting site on their home computer but as I opened that site a message popped up: “Someone who loves you is preventing you from accessing this website.”  Yeah, right.

The Cats explosive start, albeit short-lived, seemed to yield a complete misunderstanding of the conditions and the Pies preyed on the Cats (many) errors and took control. It was quite a bounty, and one that sapped the Geelong youngsters of their confidence. The Pies made it look so easy n difficult conditions with fast-break footy that left the Cats scratching their heads. While Hawkins was missing shots at one end, the Pies were nailing theirs at the other. As well they were receiving errant handballs from James Kelly and getting the run of the whistle from the umpies.

Eight goals in the wet was fair footy.

The signs for Geelong in the second quarter were little better. The Cats battled and battled for minimal result, handballing behind players, kicks falling short, before the Pies would force a turnover and go the length of the field. The Geelong effort was there, but the reward was hindered by ineptitude and the spirit had suffered (for all concerned), and when Corey Enright had a chance to kick a running goal from the arc right on half-time the errant shot seemed an appropriate symbol of the state of affairs. That would have been a lifter.

On our TV screen there were some notable truants (Where was Chappy? Andrew Mackie? Mitch Duncan?), and some roof-raising mistakes. Pies fans would have loved their mid-fielders, especially Pendlebury and Swan, and been pleased with the seamless return of Chris Tarrant who, apart from having experience and a strong body and good hands, made the Cats think about which defenders to place on which key forwards. Tom Lonergan was doing a fine job on Travis Cloke, which he continued to do throughout the night.

The Cats fought the game out and won plenty of the ball, but just could not string goals together to place any pressure on Collingwood. It would, however, be a brave analyst who read too much into the second half at all.

The Cats are still playing poorly, and with little cohesion. If they are not mindful of their defensive strategies next Friday against Essendon they could be run off the park.

That’s the challenge for the week.

The Pies will prepare for a telling match against Hawthorn.

In the longer term, the Cats still have a lot of improvement in them, and will relish the opportunity to meet the Pies again. They actually won plenty of the footy on Saturday night, but they were very generous in their sharing of it. Trent West was very good and must give Cats fans a lot of hope.

The Pies must be concerned. On Saturday night the Cats were the instigators and Collingwood were the reactors. That’s a good sign for Corio.




About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j[email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    You may have been drinking a Zema Estate shiraz JTH, but I think you were watching the game through rosé coloured glasses.

  2. John Harms says

    Worrying signs for the Pies. Relying on the mistakes of others is a recipe for September disaster.

  3. One thing I will say is that it is a mighty effort from C Scott and the Cats organisation to field 10 debutants thus far. Josh Walker looks a likely type.

  4. JTH – your optimism Indefatigable. But you make an outstanding point about instigators and reactors.

  5. John Harms says

    Dips, it took the Cats a long time to adjust to the conditions.

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says

    I didn’t see too many black and white reactors in the first quarter. I read it that we jumped the Cats and were happy to play off the many breaks that you handed to us thereafter. It’s mid July, we’ve skinned the Cats and now we have some Hawks to fry. I’m not saying we’ll win the flag, but our midfield at its best will take a hell of beating.

  7. John Harms says

    Nine of the eight first quarter goals were from turnovers. At least.

  8. C’mon Phil blow the lid off – the Pies will win the flag! Let yourself go!!

  9. Hmm… must have been some wine you had there in Adelaide JTH!

    I guess 8 goals in that weather when the game was at its hottest amounts to a ‘fair effort’. After all, it was only the result of Geelong’s mistakes and inability to adjust to its favourite conditions. Oh, and the umpires.

    Notwithstanding I’m happy to be damned once again with faint praise, quarters 2 and 4 deserved no more. There was much sloppiness from both sides, albeit in quite sloppy conditions.

    Perhaps if/when #32 comes to his senses a more dangerous version of Collingwood will turn 9 goal margins into the percentage boosters they need to be to secure a top 4 or top 2 spot.

  10. Even the officials had a turnover of sorts with that Selwood ‘non-goal’ referral to the tenth (or is it eleventh?) umpire upstairs. The process seemed to take longer than the decline and fall of the Roman empire. Fair dinkum, there’s got to be a better way.

  11. Andrew Fithall says

    Jeff D; Phil D. You know JTH is just putting these inflammatory posts up to trigger a response from Collingwood supporters and thereby boost traffic to the site. I for one won’t fall for his trick by responding. Oh drat *slaps forehead*

  12. Yeah I know, I got sucked in anyway AF. Whoops, I did it again.

    Btw, your friend Lanie Lane was good at the ‘G. Much better than any other musical interludes at the footy so far this year.

  13. DBalassone says

    I know John is half-joking with this piece, but the one thing that worries me about the Pies is when their half-back line is pressing too hard, they “drop off” their direct opponents. This gives the opposition a chance to score easily through the backdoor, if they can get possession back. We can afford to play like this if we are 3 or 4 goals up, but not in a tight contest against speedy opposition (e.g. vs. Carlton last week).

    It’s surprising that more sides have not been able to exploit this. Geelong could have kicked 12 goals in the 2nd half on Saturday night if they took their opportunities.

  14. Phil Dimitriadis says

    I really don’t know what all the fuss is about. We had a comfortable victory over a middle of the road side. First quarter turnovers came from pressure JTH and you still need skill and poise to make the opposition pay…which we did.

  15. Stephen Cooke says

    AF, Pies fans too thick to see What JTH is up to. (That should be good for another 10 website hits.)

  16. Burkie, when did the Roman Empire fall? Think Vatican and it is still going.

    Cats fans:- We were ten goals down at one stage and scratched our way back. No excuses, we lost through turn overs and poor kicking, but we had some significant positives.

    If a 31 point loss against a full strength all conquering flag favourite team by an injury depleted rookie loaded mob that did not at any stage give up: repeat, did not at any stage give up is the hiding that is being reported, then what is a 39 point soft capitulation in the last quarter of a grandfinal that was important to a club icon in his last match as coach?

    I may be getting soft myself – apparently three flags over five years can do that for you – but I saw some very encouraging things on Saturdat night and even if we drop from the radar screen this year we will be like the Pies fan outside the all night servo; loitering with intent.

    Even this season, turn your back on us at your own peril.

  17. Rick Kane says

    The way the Pies played in the first quarter they should have won by a lot more than 30 odd points? They certainly need the %. They didn’t and you’ve got to wonder why.

    Hawks to fry Phil? Ouch. From one bird to another, inst that a bit cannabalistic? Don’t you worry. We ready for the Pies and we’re hungry!

  18. It was not a hiding Phantom, but I don’t think the media is making any Earth shattering statements so far as the Cats looking out of contention this year. And to Chris Scott’s credit, he appears to be setting up the team for a quick rebound – as opposed to the Lions whose denial set them back at least 7 years.

    Geelong did keep coming, also to their credit. But I wouldn’t get too excited by a junky last quarter either.

    “a full strength all conquering flag favourite team by an injury depleted rookie loaded mob”

    Um, both teams had 6-7 out from last year’s Grand Final. Bartel, Pods & Wojo would have made a difference, Collingwood would be better too for Wellingham, Krakouer, Johnson & Didak.

    And the ‘soft capitulation’ call is a bit harsh. Compare the two Prelims the clubs played beforehand. Pies were physically spent, lucky to be a goal down at 3/4 time. Geelong were too good just the same, had the belief and our measure 3 times last year.

    But we won’t let facts get in the way of a good story. Or magnanimity in defeat.

  19. Peter B. inferred that I would sulk and go into my shell (Cave) so I have come out swinging them Jeff. There was a fair bit of lateral merit in what I said though.

    You just about had me convinced till you compared the outs. You forgot to mention Ottens, Ling, Varcoe etc and our three are better than your four. Whoops, trouble again.

    Where is Peter B. by the way. I hope he hasn’t succumbed to the reality of the loss and pulled the plug.

    Peter come back, we love you, all is forgiven.

  20. Well Phantom, at the risk of driving more traffic to this thread, I reckon Ling & Ottens are as likely to return as L Davis or L Brown who I also ‘forgot’ to mention.

    Oh, and Luke Ball. Now there’s a player I did forget.

    Point is, both teams had about the same number of their best 20 out, which is far from the picture you painted.

    So no trouble.

  21. John – I got most of your Three Stooges reference. JKelly is clearly a Larry lookalike, and Chappy is a dead ringer for Moe. But I couldn’t see Curley on Saturday night. JBartel with a fringe cut???

    Chris Scott’s coaching is questionable. “Tom Lonergan was doing a fine job on Travis Cloke.” On recent evidence Travis Cloke is doing a fine job on Travis Cloke. Why waste a good defender??

    As for my relative silence, Mr Harms told me I had to keep writing pieces for the book until we lost one. After 18 straight home wins penned by yours truly since Round 5 2011, the John Butler book-piece curse finally hit home yesterday. I am trying to be brave and work out how to right a piece with the words “Eagles home loss” in it. My spell checker (the Avenging Eagle) keeps rejecting it.

    In the meantime I am composing a homage to my favourite Geelong footballer, and JTH’s other love child.
    Shane Mumford is a beauty, and Nic Nat is still trying to work out the number of the Mac truck that hit him.
    Hope to have the piece up by tomorrow, so that JTH can glory some more in the man who should have been Ottens’ successor and given Trent West some bootlaces to tie. Cheers.

  22. Vic Nicholas says

    When you win a few flags in an era, think Blues 70’s/80’s, Hawks 70’s/80’s, Bombers 80’s, Lions 00’s and now Geelong, you get to see the spectacle of a footy fan with full blown megalomania and a sense of entitlement that would put many an aristocrat to shame. They all display a certain myopia that makes any reasonable discussion impossible due to their “but we are the best ever…we will win the flag this year too” mentality that suffocates any alternative opinion. John Harms is just a simpleton trying his level best to be relevant, but all the while fighting an uphill battle holding back the tidal wave named reality. Reading the obsequious responses of the flunky’s here attempting to give credence to Harms deluded ramblings brings to mind Botticelli’s illustration of Dante’s Inferno which depicts insincere flatterers grovelling in excrement in the second pit of the eighth circle.

  23. Phantom, I think the Roman Empire hit the skids around 1500 years ago. Perhaps it’s still in recovery mode, a bit like us Cats supporters after Saturday night. Not too sure about the Vatican. You may have a point there.

    I still reckon the amount of time taken to make a call on Selwood’s ‘non-goal’ was a joke. Just as well Heath Shaw was there to help out.

  24. Eighteen straight home wins in a period of no flags PB?

    That is the equivalent of the Barren Mountains in the Fitzgerald National Park, north of Albany, compared with the 29 straight Cats home game wins (Himalayan Mountains) amongst three flags.

    Pleased to see you weren’t arrested for trying to hold up the Swan’s team bus in the “Polly Tunnel” last night.

    (Curley = retro Scarlett)

    Travis Cloke is over rated when he plays on a good defender. Fair weather player. One mark in junk time against those pathetic pussies. I reckon I would take half a dozen, geriatric with stuffed hips and all, with the quality of delivery he gets.

    ‘Eagles home loss’ – just hit the repeat button Pete.

    Did I see and hear Eagles supporters booing Roberts Thompson as he left the ground with concussion in the second quarter? Nice.

  25. Totally agree Burkie. They should have just asked Joffa. He would have made the same honest mistake, but a couple of minutes quicker.

    The Vatican bit is just a Friday special – a red herring. But an interesting issue. Great wealth, power and presence throughout the new and old worlds even now in 2012 AD. They are currently a little shakey because of the CFC. (Compensation Financial Crisis)

  26. John Harms says

    Vic, as a simpleton I’ll endeavour to write my next piece phonetically. Then there is no reason for it to be lost on anyone.

  27. Gees Vic how can I respond to such well balanced and eloquently sharp prose.

    It is very hard down here in the intellectual cesspit, wallowing in feline excretement, a residual artefact of the protracted loss of bodily function control, induced from the excitement of three flags.

    I must slip naked out into the July Tasmanian dawn frost for a little birch faggot self flagelation to purge this smile.

  28. Pie fans – I guess we got the response we knew we would get so why is everybody getting het up?

    We’ve all known for some time that most Geelong supporters think that when they are beaten it’s purely because they didn’t execute, or that the other mob is getting the run of the whistle. And, as stated above, every forward thrust of the opposition is only as a result of a thwarted forward thrust from the Cats……………


    I didn’t watch the Cats struggle to handle the conditions. I watched them crack under the enormous first quarter pressure applied to them by a committed Collingwood team. That was a very good sign.

    I also really enjoyed our response to the Cat’s first two goals of the third quarter that gave them a sniff. That sniff was immediately snuffed out by four quick goals and a 10 goal lead. Although I have to say that all four goals, like the previous eleven, were only as a direct result of Cat players not handling the conditions or their proactive stuff going pear shaped so I didn’t really celebrate them as I should have.

    Pendlebury showed us all again why he is the best footballer in the AFL (in my humble opinion). He had no trouble handling those pesky conditions that brought the great Cat outfit down.

    Important 5 goal win against a super opponent easing down, no more injuries, Top 4 spot still alive…..I’m happy with all of that. Another big test this week v the Haughty Hawks fresh from their crushing wins over the GWS & the hapless Dogs.

  29. John Harms says

    Bakes, this is neither time nor place for reason: there’s a flag on the line. However, you can always find evidence to support an argument.

  30. haiku bob says

    looking forward to your ‘the Pies are well and truly back’ piece next week JTH.

  31. John Harms says

    Haiku, I think it will be The PIes are Least Gone this Week.

  32. You’ll wait in vain, HB (and if it does appear, it will be part of a new strategy). Kudos to the Wrapster who tagged Pies $1.52 as big overs. Hope you took some as “Tiger” balm for the wounds from Cairns.

    Comments above about the impact of the conditions are slightly bemusing. In the All Nations pre-game, I ventured to PJ Flynn that the Cats were the best wet weather team in the comp, and that if the heavens opened it would favour the Hoops. I don’t think I’m violating Bar Room Privilege to disclose that he agreed.

    Anyway, the victory donuts tasted sweet on Saturday night. Any win over the Cats is a good win. We’ll just take those one at a time (unlike the donuts).

  33. Rick Kane says

    Hello Bakes, from what you might call a Haughty Hawks fan. However, I first must correct you on your assumption as to our haughtiness. Far from it. Yes, we are happy and mighty and leading the league in percentage terms. We feel pretty good about that stat, yes sir. It tells, without bells nor whistles, that we have beaten more than just the hapless and those who might be giants by country mile margins. In fact, if my memory serves, we beat the Pies by 4 goals last time around. But we are not haughty or getting ahead of ourselves. We know the true measure of the campaign lies ahead. And we are ready and confident and match hardened and ready to rumble. But we are not haughty.


  34. Go easy Rick,

    those Pies are a little fragile at the moment.

    Even though they have apparently finished the Cats of for a decade or two they are rising to the baits quicker than we can dangle them over the side of our little pussy punts as we float off to obscurity.

    (Haughty Hawks: not bad. I am feekling very relaxed at the moment. It will be fun fanning the flames of this finals series even if we are not there)

  35. Sunday showed we are the harmonious and hard Hawks but we’re not going to harp. That would be hasty. We’ll await the harvest moon…come September. And you angry Pies, in tune with the Roman theme, I fear there may be a haruspex or two amongst you (look it up…admittedly I had to).

  36. Sunday showed we are the harmonious and hard Hawks but we’re not going to harp. That would be hasty. We’ll await the harvest moon…come September. And you angry Pies, in tune with the Roman theme, I fear there may be a haruspex or two amongst you (look it up…admittedly I had to).

  37. Justin Porth says

    Phantom, I miss your point. Methinks these Catters are just trying a little too hard to try and make out they are “okay” with the loss on Saturday. I smell a bit of disappointment in the air & of course they can just try and pretend they are roping in Pie supporters to alleviate their pain. Cats, sorry to disappoint you, but we don’t hate you as much as you’d like.

  38. Justin Porth says

    And just on Rick Kane’s line, “The way the Pies played in the first quarter they should have won by a lot more than 30 odd points? They certainly need the %. They didn’t and you’ve got to wonder why.”

    Please Rick, they weren’t playing GWS, Port or the Bulldogs, they were playing a darn good footy side.

  39. Cheers Justin.

    It is a pleasant surprise to get a tasty bit of by-catch as well as the usual target species.

  40. Hey Phantom

    Who’s catching whom here?

    I think Justin might have found a little irritating itch in the Ghost Who Baulks.

  41. Stop it Matt; please.

    I’m over my bag limit already and it will take me ages to clean them all.

  42. John Harms says

    We can win this.

  43. Rick Kane says

    Hello Mr Porth

    I take it from your comment that you have studied the game in depth and have come to the conclusion that while in one quarter the Pies could smash the opposition the reason why they couldn’t continue to do so for the next three quarter was that they were playing a darn good footy side. So be it. If you reckon the Pies performance was acceptable, after Quarter time, given what they had produced in the First, well good for you. The Cats were playing a darn good footy side in Round 24 last year. They put the Pies to the sword and sent a message to the other finalists.

    As a Pies man (I’m assuming you are) are you concerned that currently the Pies have the third worst percentage in the Top 8? Likewise they have the third worst ‘Quarters Won’ record of the Top 8. So generally (against sides that are darn good and sides that aren’t so darn good) they are not, as we say, putting them away when they should. Also, they are playing some red hot quarters (such as against that darn good side the Cats) but maybe could/should be winning more quarters of footy.

    These are not meant to be barbed observations. Across the spectrum, footy followers see this years Top4/8 as a bottleneck, potentially all the way to Round 24. Your % may be the difference between being 4th or 5th or having to travel to Perth. So, it doesn’t really matter how you get your percentage but it does matter that you get it.

    This is not to say the Pies aren’t one of the faves for the GF. As I have mentioned previously, the best game of footy I have seen in 2012 was the Pies vs the Eagles. And the best team won that one. I said at the time, that one of those sides will be playing in the last week in September. Results over the last few weeks have left that opinion hanging in the air. The Pies are not playing at 100% and are not perfect and that was all my observation was meant to imply.


  44. Justin Porth says

    You may some good points Rick – Pies are far from infallible – just thought you perhaps underestimated the Cats. Yes, they were terrible early, but they very rarely put in 4 bad quarters in a row. I know they have some players out (so does everyone) but they still have the nucleus of a very good team there.


  45. Rick Kane says

    Mr Porth

    I can’t underestimate the Bloody Cats, I barrack for the Hawks. We have had them on the ropes on at least 4 of the last 8 times we have played them only to watch everything turn upside down and inside out. I have suggested we bring Buffy out of retirement to slay the buggers. Good luck for the rest of the season and hope your team comes at least second.


  46. Rick,

    I’ve been using the Haughty Hawks moniker for years now and judging by your reaction I’ll continue to trot it out for a little while yet. Hawk fans have always been Haughty……

    Re percentage – the Pies lead this stat last year after 22 rounds with an extraordinary 167.66 (with only one bunny side as opposed to two this year). It came to nought in the end as we could not beat the Cats in three attempts. So please enjoy that stat for what it is worth.

    Yes – you beat us in Rd 1 so well done. From memory, we dominated much of the game, particularly early on, but kicked poorly for goal which is poor footy. In contrast, your boys kicked them from everywhere but we were beaten fair and square. This week will be a beaut contest and, just as your boys are ready and confident and match hardened and ready to rumble (haughtiness??) the Pies have been tuning up nicely as well.

  47. Yeah Rick! Wot Bakes and Justin said!

    And don’t forget that we blew the lead back out over 50 points after the Cats made their one real push.

    I hate being forced to talk up the Pies. I usually like to keep a lid on it – by “lid” I mean those chunky metal road hole covers you only see in American movies.

    But it’s time for you to put away that straw man Premiership Cup, Mr. Kane. All we said is that is that any win over the Cats is a good win. And as you know (and acknowledge), it is. Worth six victory donuts (shared with two sons, makes two each – I’m watching my waist line).

    Saturday’s gunna be fun.

  48. Earl O'Neill says

    John, your last sentence seems a last desparing cry of hope against the forces of reality. I’ve been reading about the Peace Conference at the Hague in 1907 lately…

  49. Rick Kane says

    Now that I have your attention, I’d just like to say what a marvellous, absolutely bloody terrific year of footy we have had so far.

    Scripters could not have scripted the Karmichael Hunt goal better. Even if they had set it in tropical Cairns, there still would have been the decision about what team to kick the winning goal against. The obvious script choice would have been the Pies. Or maybe the Cats (last year’s Premiers and all that). But for gods of chance to choose Richmond, that’s like wow, so bloody inspired as to make you wanna keep reading. Yep, this season has had it all.

    And so gentlemen, here we are. At the precipice of a new cliché. The Pies defeat the Cats. They play their other nemesis this Saturday, the Mighty Hawks who are one win less and have 35 percentage points more than them. The Hawks have kicked more than the Pies and had less kicked against them than the Pies. And this matters why? The Hawks have a better forward line and defence. And it’ll need come Saturday, which, as you say Mr MOC, is gunna be fun.

    See you on the other side of a heartbreaker!

  50. Dave Nadel says

    I haven’t risen to the usual Cats’ bait. Partly because I had computer problems but mostly because I don’t think there will be a round three between Collingwood and Geelong this year. Provided Collingwood can stay in the top four they will not see Geelong or Carlton again. Saturday’s game against Hawthorn is something else. Whoever wins on Saturday, I expect that their paths will cross again in September.

  51. Siamese Cat says

    Harmsy, Harmsy, you legend. When all around you were losing their heads, you kept tipping the Cats to come good. And they did. A stirring victory tonight against the Bombers.

  52. John Harms says

    We can win this.

  53. Good win to a bag of Cats that just won’t go away

  54. Stephen Cooke says


  55. Siamese Cat says

    Blood oath we can win it.

  56. Hawks-Cats it is then

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