Finals Week 2 – Geelong v Collingwood: A disappointing chapter to an otherwise great read




I was born in the golden age of Collingwood and Geelong match-ups.


Raised with the footage of Ablett’s mark (which dad constantly reiterated was not actually a mark, much like Wayne Harmes’ tap was struck in the MCG carpark), a new age of clashes between two different stripes kicked off early.


I can’t remember much of the 2007 Preliminary Final, but one moment sticks in my mind. The flowing blond locks bursting out of a stoppage, pouncing on Brad Ottens’ underrated ruckwork and curling home the match-winning goal. Thankfully, 2009 was quickly erased from the memory bank; a common theme among Collingwood supporters.


But I sure do remember 2010. For the first time I was there; joining in the rousing ‘Collingwood’ chant that shook the foundations of the newly erected Eureka Tower as a Pendlebury-led Collingwood produced a scintillating first half. Leigh Brown’s wrong-un from 60 metres out will never leave my mind, nor will Pendlebury’s running right foot goal.


It has evolved since. 2011 broke my heart. The 2012 re-match was a thriller. In times where Geelong maintained their success and Collingwood tapered off in the Buckley era, we somehow always managed to cause an upset against the Cats.


It took a while, but last year’s Qualifying Final finally saw the two sides return. From the last bout, only Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Taylor and Selwood remained; the latter with so many head wounds between fights that he was a light breeze away from being opened up above the right eyebrow.


All of this history made me excited for the Semi Final. Regardless of how these teams were travelling, it had to be a close one. We never played one-sided finals. Nothing was going to be easy.


But when the anthem concluded and the ball was bounced, the typical finals intensity was quickly drained out. From the get-go, Geelong refused to let Collingwood play fast and free. Any black and white possession was held up; Cats in the background streamed into position and begged for the Pies to lob one down the line. In the blink of an eye, Geelong’s rigid adherence to structure had broken down Collingwood’s. The away team would never recover it.


As much as Collingwood were poor and flat, Geelong deserve credit. Everything they did was measured; you got the feel Chris Scott was steaming after last week’s loss to the Power, and he unleashed his anger with clever twists and a smart game plan. The Cats work harder than anyone else in defence, and this work rate gave them prime opportunity to stop any slingshot counter attacks that would allow the likes of De Goey and Stephenson to drift out the back. Rhys Stanley played a fine hand in the ruck, expelling Grundy to the bench quickly and then out-running Cameron. He is a fine athlete, but he has managed to piece together a more rounded game that could sculpt the tanned ruckman into Geelong’s missing jigsaw piece.


Dangerfield soon realised he didn’t have to deal with the harassing presence of Greenwood, and took it upon his shoulders to break away from clearances and then drift forward. The Cats had possession, Collingwood never looked like getting it forward. In a one-sided half, the Pies could only manage one lucky goal courtesy of Elliott from a stoppage.


It’s hard to find reasons for such a lacklustre performance. Yes, this year has had exceptional circumstances. The difficulty and emotion of last week’s victory would have drained them, but that can’t be an excuse. In this final, Geelong wanted it more and had planned for it better. Collingwood rocked up looking like they expected last week’s momentum to instantly convert this match into a win too, regardless of what was thrown at them. They thoroughly deserved to lose it in such a humbling manner, for hubris is the greatest sin one can commit on the footy field.


The only hint of respectability that came from a black and white jumper occurred in the final term. With the Cats easing the pressure and putting their key figures on ice for a Preliminary Final, Collingwood managed to sneak in a few majors to save themselves from claiming any disastrous records. Picking a good player from Collingwood’s list was like selecting a favourite child out of a pile of brats; you just couldn’t consider any. On the other hand, Geelong’s line-up was full of golden children; teeth glistening, clothes ironed and pressed and their manners beautifully trimmed. Personally, the pearly whites and well-combed hair of Dangerfield won him that gong, but the oily arms of Hawkins and the clumsy smile of Duncan would’ve been close behind. If you like a bit of a cheeky child, Tom Stewart is your man.


In the shadows of a desolating loss in the 19th century, The Sporting Times officially flagged the death of English cricket after relinquishing a home test to the travelling Australians. This story created the greatest two-country rivalry present in international sport. Collingwood’s insipid effort on Saturday doesn’t deserve to create a glorious future match-up, but it sure does deserve an obituary.


If it wasn’t Collingwood’s current team dying out, it was definitely the toyed-with heart of its supporters. Geelong have hurt us before, it’s nothing new and nothing surprising. But the disappointment sits with the lack of care and effort. For us Victorian fans, it caps off a year we’d all rather forget. But, with all shellackings, the second half turns into a light-hearted watch when nothing is at stake. It is then that the human spirit realises it can live on through unexpected heartbreak and pain. And just like our spirit, the team itself will hopefully not break. It’ll be an interesting summer for Collingwood, but it won’t result in obituaries. It’s just another intriguing chapter of a whirlwind footy club.


For the winners, Geelong got what they so badly wanted. With a shaky Preliminary Final record, they have gotten the perfect boost into their date with the Lions. It is then we will all learn whether they can consistently produce such fantastic and mature football. For Ablett’s sake, they deserve to go again. But his dad definitely didn’t mark that footy; don’t ever forget that. Until next time, Geelong have the chocolates.



GEELONG                4.4    9.6    9.8    15.10 (100)
COLLINGWOOD    1.0    1.0    1.1      5.2 (32)


Dangerfield, Hawkins 4, Dahlhaus, Guthrie, Menegola, Miers, Selwood, Stanley, Tuohy
Collingwood: Mihocek 2, Elliott, Grundy, Stephenson


 Dangerfield, Duncan, Stewart, Guthrie, Henderson, Menegola
Collingwood: Adams, Moore, Crisp



Read more from Sean Mortell HERE.



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  1. Terrific summary Sean. I watched this game and felt I was taking in an exhibition game played in January in London. The lack of fire from the Pies was baffling. Tired?? What! This is a semi final!

    By the way if you check the records you’ll note that Ablett’s mark was paid. Just sayin’

  2. Cheers Sean. A tough night for Pies: the other side of the 2010 Prelim Final coin (incidentally that was G. Ablett’s last game for the Cats before heading to the Suns).

    Still gathering my thoughts about Geelong!

  3. Danielle Hakim says

    I think we played on an empty tank Sean.
    They literally left their all on the ground last week with West Coast.
    At least we can watch that game again, and again…and again.

  4. It can’t be all gloom & doom, for Collingwood supporters. Your half time score, 1-0-6, equaled the previous lowest score in a finals match.That was in the 1960 Grand Final when Collingwood went in at half time with 1-0-6 on the board.

    At least you’ve retained that record.


  5. george smith says

    Well, Jordan de Goey has put his contract negotiations in the hands of his father Roger. Roger de Goey sounds like the sort of dad that would send his son to the Crusades or in pursuit of Robin Hood, rather than negotiating a deal with the Pies and the Showponies.

    Glen, the 1960 grand final remains the only televised record of Melbourne’s glorious era, as 1964 has only newsreels. It is the worst of our grand final appearances with a score of 2.2 14. Sadly worse was to come. Fortunately in both cases we have earlier wins to comfort us. In the case of 1960, there is the 1958 GF where the Pies actually beat Melbourne, the only televised GF prior to 1960 (56, 57 and 59 are missing). In the case of the Moggies, there is last years epic by 10 points. Further back there is the 2008 “what the bleep was that” game, where the Pies stunned the undefeated Cats in their only home and away defeat for the entire season…

    Any big win is met by terrible retribution, and vice versa, between these two.

  6. Ta George. You’ve got me thinking.

    I can’t say i’ve seen the full coverage of a Grand Final pre-1966. There’s a number of Grand Finals, 1962, 1959, I don’t recall seeing any footage of.

    I used to love watching the pre Grand Final Footy marathons on Channel 7 back in the halcyon days, but there are some matches i’m finding it hard to recall.

    As an ‘older’ footy aficionado it’d be great to have access to footage of Grand Finals/games from the dawn of TV. Where/how this can be accomplished is interesting.


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