Finals Week 1 – West Coast v Collingwood: Pies make an omelette

It seems we’re all in for a treat
Staring up, out of the street
And you can tell that Joe is really glad he came

Though downwind of him trails
A fog of alcohol
He fails
To do his best to be indifferent
All the same
– “Blondin’ makes an omelette,” Gareth Liddiard


It’s three quarter time in Perth. Collingwood by 10 points.
We’re at the primary school trivia night; an annual excursion of dress-ups and music and cocktails; parents slipping off the leash.

Chatting over a glass or two early, I’d reckoned on checking the scores once during the night.
“Yeah, I might have a look,” I’d said.
Aiming to be present.
Aiming to shut out all distractions.

And it was half time before I’d first reached for the phone.
“Yep. We’re right in it.”

When a new seed was planted.
“Mate. If you want to watch the last quarter… mate… the pub is right there. Just saying.”

“Cause there ain’t no shaking the smell
Like there ain’t no shaking the spell
As Blondin, Wirewalker
Braves the screams

Well, Joe is
Obvious impressed
Though he has something to confess
Above the sound of ten thousand creaking
Necks all craned”
– “Blondin’ makes an omelette,” Gareth Liddiard

And now it’s three quarter time and grown adults in this Hall are dangling carrots from strings between their legs, attempting to use their carrots to knock a ball through a goal.

“Righto,” I stand up. “I’ll be back soon.”

“Good call, mate. I’ll join you.”

Ten thousand creaking necks all craned.

Joe says
“Alone amongst the beasts and freaks
I dreamed of tightrope walking
While I tended Blondin’s
Percherons and trailers

I’d see him
Training in the evening
There was no point trying to speak
You see, I doubted that he’d have
Time for the strangers

Who’d be there hoisting his big tents
Who’d be spying him from their naves
Staring down at them
Like batshit in a cave”
– “Blondin’ makes an omelette,” Gareth Liddiard

It’s been one of those great weeks of anticipation. The week’s break after the regular season is a curiosity. Plenty of people have enjoyed the chance to tell me how lucky Collingwood is to play finals. And fair enough. It’s all very 2002. But I like the chances of these magpies. I like these magpies. There’s an air of philosophical intelligence about them. Mixed with a raw powerful exuberance. A touch of Timor pony. There’s T Varcoe in the week after the death of his sister. There’s J De Goey bursting out of his skin. There’s B Grundy tweeting about young Summer*. There’s old faithful S Pendlebury, controlling the controllables. T Goldsack is back following an early season knee reconstruction. And there’s bearded N Buckley; suggesting the way forward. So many moving parts. At once wise and naïve. Calm and loose. A touch of Timor pony, three parts thoroughbred at least.
(And such as are by mountain horsemen prized)

(click to enlarge)


“Well, we hardly even met, but see
I worked for him, I thought I’d
Fill the space he left
But no, I was naive

Just another sideshow slow, I thought
He knew something I don’t
But it would seem, all these Wirewalkers have
Is just the means to make you feel so bad

Man, no one
Cared for him at all
Until he crossed Niagara Falls
So you’d all feel
A little lower down the scale”
– “Blondin’ makes an omelette,” Gareth Liddiard

We are over the road and into the Juan Carlos Bar of the Lomond Hotel.
It’s packed.
A band plays the front bar, so all with an interest in this 2018 Qualifying Final in faraway Perth are squashed into this small anteroom, usually the exclusive home of punters.

We’re among the throng, wearing our trivia night costumes in the Juan Carlos Bar. In costume we two of us wear full-body white chemical-spill jumpsuits; radioactive symbol emblazoned on each of our backs; I’m aware that we are fairly conspicuous.

“Two pots of Carlton thanks.”
“He didn’t have it!”
“That’s BULLshit!”

This is a magnificent atmosphere.
It is a magnificent contest.

The trivia night theme is: Revenge of the Nerds. And our whole table has gone dressed in matching outfits. Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future. It’s a rare night that sees us step into the bar wearing full-body white chemical-spill jumpsuits.

Josh Kennedy lines them up.
“That really is a fine beard.”
“He’s a good kick, too.”

And now it’s desperate and it’s tense and it’s all tiptoes and clenched fists in the Juan Carlos Bar and it’s all in West Coast’s half in Perth and it’s scrappy and it’s the oval ball jumping and skidding and it falls to Jack Darling and now it is West Coast in front.

“How’s the effort?”
“This is a cracker.”

And it’s on.
This is on.
It is a hot footy and a full bar and not a sound can be heard of commentary.
“Get rid of it!”
“Hit him!”
“There he is!”
“This side!”
“Eyes up!”
“Got him!”

“And then his fame shot straight and fast
Right through a gloomy, narrow pass
He chanced through darkness, lightning storms
And into day

But I ain’t here because he’s tall
I’m only here to see him fall
If I get on the wagon now
It’ll only be to run him down”
– “Blondin’ makes an omelette,” Gareth Liddiard

“Mate, what the fuck is with the suits?”
In our twenty minutes at the pub, this is the only character to comment on our outfits. There is a Qualifying Final to be won.

“Mate; the pies are fantastic.”
This is footy.
We’re on that magical plane above hot takes; above analysis.
And it’s great to be here.

There’s T Adams as young bullock.
There’s B Mihocek as everyman.
There’s L Jetta as tightrope walker.

These magpies are terrific.
These magpies as The Man From Snowy river’s horse.
He was hard and tough and wiry — just the sort that won’t say die —
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But for every this-is-our-moment in team sport, there’s an opposition also saying this-is-our-moment.
And for every “they deserved it” there is an opponent who also “deserves it.”

Goal: Lewis Jetta (WC)

Incredulous disappointment washes through the bar.
Tension fills the bar.

Goal: Jack Darling (WC)

Deflation overwhelms the bar.

And we’re out. We’re out as the result is ensured. It is like stepping out of a hermitically sealed box. Stepping back into society. There is cool night air out here.

“Jeez; that’s a tough one to cop.”
We walk along the street.
“Ahh… you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I know the answer to that, but not right now.”

We’re over the road. Through the door. And swooping into Trivia Night Round 3.

“Hey! You’re back! Who won?”
“Can you pass that cheese board?”

“It seems we’re
All in for a treat
Staring up out of the street

And you can smell that Joe’s been drinking
On his breath

And then the clouds part overhead
And I make out a silhouette
As though I’m staring up through a trapdoor
And I’m waiting to be fed”
– “Blondin’ makes an omelette,” Gareth Liddiard

West Coast 12.14.86
Collingwood 10.10.70

West Coast: Ryan 2, Darling 2, Kennedy 2, Vardy, Jetta, Sheed, Cripps, Rioli, Redden
Collingwood: Adams 2, De Goey 2, Mihocek 2, Stephenson, Thomas, Varcoe, Mayne

West Coast: Yeo, McGovern, Ryan, Jetta, Sheed, Redden
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Adams, Grundy, Goldsack, Treloar, Mihocek

West Coast: Sheppard (hamstring)
Collingwood: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Nicholls, Meredith, Harris

Official crowd: 59,585 at West Coast’s place

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. I like the sound of that Brodie Grundy!

    Can’t believe I’m saying it, but I’ll be barracking for Collingwood this week!

    Good luck

  2. “Hey! You’re back! Who won?”
    “Can you pass that cheese board?”

    ^^^ sums it up, really.

    What a game. How good was Goldsack? I was gutted – now glad I didn’t message you when I called this one for the Pies somewhere in the second quarter!

  3. G’day Jan, Jack.

    Yes, B Grundy is one to watch- on and off the field.
    I wonder where life will take him.

    It’s a little strange learning of favourable Collingwood sentiment, I must say.
    But they’re a likeable bunch who seem to have treated triumph & disaster just the same this year. No doubt influenced by the coach; who seems to be enjoying himself.

    #whoknows? #noone

  4. Oh great tallest flowering plant.

    The Juan Carlos Bar is; (a) behind the front bar, where you put your tickets in the TAB machine, or (b) out the back where you watch the races.

    Please explain.


  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice work ER. Who’d have thought we could become so likable that even Jan will be barracking for us ? !
    I like the new Collingwood.
    Usually after a loss in a final I’m a tad indignant and looking for whipping boys.
    So proud of this group and disappointed for them after such a gallant effort out West. What is happening here, ER?

  6. ER and Phil: I have to give away a little secret. My “hatred” for GWS has just surpassed that for Collingwood – hence me wanting you guys to win!

  7. Hey Glen – the Juan Carlos Bar is the one up a couple of steps from the front bar.
    On Nicholson Street.
    I guess that’s (a).
    I gather that “Juan Carlos” was the name of a horse that brought a big win to the room.

    Phil – I know, right?!
    All is Socratic right now.

    Jan – my enemy’s enemy is my friend, indeed – harbinger of strange alliances.
    Welcome aboard.

  8. Ta Mr Mountain Ash.

    You must excuse my ignorance/age as my feet have trod through the Juan Carlos bar thousands of times over the years without acknowledging its title.

    I need to lift my game, paying more attention next visit.


  9. I took a photo once Glen!

    It’s among the comments on this story from 2016.

  10. I walked through there last Saturday, the Saturday prior,and how many other times? Maybe being my height you don’t notice things up the top.

    Thanks illustrious tree.


  11. Well played,OBP you capture the emotion superbly go Aishy cmon the pies

  12. Luke Reynolds says

     “I like these magpies”. Me too. I love this team as much as my older favourites, the 1990, 1992 and 2002 teams.
    Very proud supporter. Bring on Saturday night #gopies

  13. E Reg, quite the visual image that – you in the HAZCHEM suit.

    Hilarious that it took so long for someone to ask. They were either intimidated, or thought you were in a Devo cover band. Hey, Brunswick…..

    Excellent choice of song, also. Hard to go wrong with G. Liddiard.

    Pies were very game. Perhaps the fact they played a couple who had missed for a long time (though both played well) left them short of legs at the end?

    Two fascinating games this week.


  14. Earl O'Neill says

    Onya Swampy, that’s a beauty.
    I hope to see Brodie and Phil in a close contest this weekend, those two have the best hair in the AFL.
    May your team win, unless they’re playing mine. Oh, they are! Thou shalt be mine enemy.

  15. Earl O'Neill says

    Jan, you hate the Monaros more than the 4&20s? I’ll take that as a positive.

  16. Thanks OBP. A small room can be the best place to watch a big game. Aishy going beautifully.

    Luke – I remember you writing that in one of your stories. Love the footage of L Dunn in dress-up at training.

    JB – looking forward to these games. I’ll head to the G with the buds on Saturday night. Forecast to be 5 degrees by the final siren. (Adjust for Ballarat).

    Earl – thanks yes. Best hair. No doubt. Monaros such an apt name for your guys. They’ve really grown into the character. I have them at HQ level now.

  17. Illustrious tallest,flowering plant. I popped into the Lomond last night and it was only after wandering through that specific door way 4 times did i finally notice the Juan Carlos Bar signage.

    ‘spose if it’s always there you never notice it.

    ‘ave a good weekend


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