Collingwood vs St Kilda Round 21 2011

Factors such as a resurgent St Kilda keen on extending its long winning streak; a six day break following a road trip and a match played in very wet conditions meant that this game had some danger associated with it. There had been a big build up during the week with strong media emphasis on Luke Ball and his improvement and importance to Collingwood and by inference criticisms of St Kilda’s decisions to let him go. The opposition certainly looked more threatening than some recent ones and they looked in better shape than when we played them earlier in the year.

I haven’t been to a Collingwood away game for a long time. It was a disconcerting experience. A friend, Pat “the eternal Collingwood optimist” who had just come back from Port Adelaide game had two spare AFL tickets so my brother Kevin and I accepted his invitation. It felt strange watching the screen flooded with St Kilda propaganda before the game, interviews with St Kilda supporters in the crowd and large numbers of St Kilda fans sitting among us in the AFL section. A St Kilda supporter even won the half-time flag waving competition. This was not the natural order of things. I am used to Collingwood propaganda, former Collingwood greats making their lap of honour, in-depth interviews with Collingwood supporters and being surrounded by familiar faces clad in black and white. This proximity to the opposition led to some lively and heated discussions later in the game.

Alan Didak for the second week in a row wore the green vest and for the third week in a row we had a new centre-half-forward, this time it was Nick Maxwell’s turn. The Saints began well, with Dale Thomas’s mate, Clint Jones in everything.  Nick Riewoldt marked and had a goal within 3 minutes. Memories of the 2009 final where he had a purple patch against Presti kicking three quick goals and turning the game came flooding back. Fortunately, after that early break, Chris Tarrant and Ben Reid were well on top of him and he is clearly well below his best.  St Kilda played a more attacking style than previously but their disposal was sloppy and this was a feature of their game all night. Ben Johnson, Leon Davis, Harry O’Brien and Ben Reid repelled the Saints’ attacks and delivered the ball better for the forwards. Maxwell was working hard in the forward line as was Alex Fasolo, and the usual suspects, Dale Thomas and Dane Swan.  Goals to Darren Jolly, Scott Pendelbury and two to Leon who had drifted to the forward line and Travis Cloke meant we were 19 points up at quarter time, also the final margin.

Pat, the optimist, predicted, “Once we hit the front we will not be headed.” What a different approach to that of my usual Collingwood game companion, the Piesimist, who would not have made that utterance even late in the 4th quarter of last week’s game, in case we had an extra player on the ground resulting in a recount and we lost all of our score.

The second quarter began with a St Kilda goal courtesy of a 50 metre penalty to Dal Santo after Leon Davis overstepped the mark. This is a disproportionate penalty for a minor infraction, considering how frequently  forwards are crunched after they mark and receive no penalty from the umpire. It wasn’t even Ray Chamberlin. This was a fairly even quarter with both backlines being on top. Johnson, Reid, Tarrant and Davis continued to do well. The highlights were a great snap from Fasolo, a Chris Tarrant bump on Koschitzke while shepherding Tyson Goldsack, which unfortunately resulted in a report, Harry O’Brien managing to keep Milne quiet and the reaction when Milne, the Collingwood crowd’s favourite, missed a shot on goal and later gave away a 50 metre penalty.

During the third quarter Collingwood extended its lead to 21 points but this was never going to become another blowout. St Kilda had their chances but poor disposal and a number of posters didn’t help. Fasolo took a screamer, but was too far out to score from it and Wellingham beat two opponents to snap a great goal. Alan Didak replaced Luke Rounds and received a huge reception.

For the first time in a long time the Arizona effect did not kick in and St Kilda “won” the last quarter even if it was only by two points. Dane Swan who had improved as the game progressed kicked a bouncing goal that evaded two St Kilda defenders in the goal square and Beams and Leigh Brown contributed goals. Unfortunately, Sharrod Wellingham limped off, which was unfortunate as although he hadn’t dominated, he had looked good on his return.

In the end it was a good win against a good team who had had relatively little contribution from their big names, Milne, Goddard, Riewoldt and Koschitzke. It was our lowest score for a while, but we still kept the opposition to only four goals after half time. Two of these came very late in the game from Milne and Polo who, against the trend of the day, were able to get away from their opponents.  It was one of our more accurate games and the opposition had more shots.  Some of those described last week by Haiku Bob as lacking height were less prominent this week, perhaps that game had taken it out of them.  However, there were as usual a large number of great contributors. See below.

I look forward to moving back to more familiar and more comfortable territory for next week’s game at the MCG against Brisbane.

The votes for the Mark McGough Medal  (thanks to my brother Kevin for this suggestion) have been sent under the protection of Ernst and Young to our illustrious leader who is undertaking his Grand Tour of Europe.  They will be revealed at the post Grand Final Floreat Pica Dinner at the Carringbush. Apologies to____________, ______________ and especially ___________________ who could not be fitted into this week’s  votes.

It was hard to come up with a name for this week’s medal as the player interaction between these teams has been more limited than between Collingwood and Essendon and Richmond. I could only think of Alan Davis, Tony Francis, Damian Monkhurst and Luke Ball. Any suggestions?


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    Well done on the report John. Oh. Shane Wakelin might be a bit miffed that you don’t remember him.

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