Finals Week 2 – Geelong v Collingwood: Outnumbered at home (Floreat Pica Society)

 

In his post-match on-field interview last week, Scott Pendlebury said something to the effect that it felt like all his finals were played against either West Coast or Geelong. The West Coast battles had received plenty of publicity over the preceding week and the one-point Collingwood victory in the 2020 elimination final has already entered the storied folklore of the two clubs’ rivalry.

 

The Collingwood-Geelong battles are, of course, even more numerous. In the lead-up to last year’s qualifying final clash, Glenn McFarlane wrote this article about the long history of Pies-Cats finals.

 

For the Fithall family, these games are personal. My wife Helen is a Geelong supporter. As a child growing up on the farm at Ascot, outside Ballarat, Helen says she was influenced by her oldest brother Ian to supporting Geelong. My own Collingwood allegiances are also sown in family – as the fifth of eight children, I barrack for Collingwood because we all do. My late mother Maureen’s (nee Godfrey) connections run deepest. At one stage in her childhood (she was 4 or 5 at the time), she was placed in an orphanage when her own parents had separated. Her two younger brothers were apparently placed with an aunt or some other relative who declined/refused to accommodate Maureen.

 

News somehow got through to a Mrs Froude about my mother’s predicament. I don’t know where Mrs Froude fits in or how Mrs Froude got involved, but concerned that mum was languishing alone in the orphanage, Mrs Froude organised for my mother to move in with the Froude family. The family home was in Turner St, across the road from Victoria Park. And Mrs Froude’s husband Fred Froude just happened to be a Collingwood player. It was only late in her life that my mother spoke much about that early time of her childhood. But she did speak very fondly about the Froude family – remembering all the times when numerous Collingwood players would drop in for social visits and the sing-along-sessions around the family pianola. A check of records indicate that the Froudes themselves would have only been in their early twenties, so this was an extraordinarily generous thing that they did.

 

Helen and I have four children – two boys and two girls aged from 23 to 26 (just two pregnancies if you are thinking that is a lot of kids born close together). The signed prenuptial agreement was that any boys would barrack for Collingwood and girls for Geelong. So if things now were as they were at the times of birth, then the balance would have been fine. But Audrey fell under the football influence of either her older brother Bill or her triplet sibling Herb, and sometime around pre-school commencement, switched to Collingwood. I had nothing to do with it – I swear. This leaves Helen and Ursula as the Geelong representatives. Helen is passionate and Ursula even more so.

 

The first instalment of the Collingwood-Geelong finals for this Fithall family was the 2007 preliminary final. Helen and I had recently become MCC members so planned to go to the game together. However, one of the children was unwell, so the pre-organised childminding was abandoned and someone would have to stay home to look after them. The decision process went along the lines that given we had just one Grand Final ticket organised (restricted MCC meant no GF access), then the likely Grand Final attendee would forego the preliminary final. Geelong were strong favourites to win, so I went to the prelim. The pain of that loss still hurts (but then so does the 1970 GF loss; these things take time).

 

I have zero memory of the 2009 Preliminary Final. Aren’t brains good at things like that? We would have attended. Fair chance I watched the last quarter in a bar.

 

Helen and I went to the 2010 Preliminary Final together. In my report in the 2010 Footy Almanac I had written about the pre-game family preparations: “Helen, who is a Geelong supporter, said that if Collingwood won, she would be happy for me. I was unable to reciprocate.” I think Helen was genuinely happy for me when Collingwood triumphed that day, and again two weeks later, but her revenge was certainly swift and sweet.

 

The morning of the 2011 Grand Final Helen and I and our two girls flew to Perth for the Under 15 lacrosse nationals. We were both designated team mini-bus drivers. Somehow between the airport and the accommodation, Helen fell off the four-bus convoy and got lost and so missed the first quarter of the game telecast. She managed to squeeze sufficient joy into the remaining three quarters to more than compensate. This is the only post-marriage premiership win for either of our teams of which we do not possess a DVD copy.

 

By the time the 2019 qualifying final came around, through memberships and guest passes, all the family was able to attend, with the exception of Audrey who was in the US. In preparation for the on-line stampede to secure reserved seats and guest passes, I made an error and “inadvertently” failed to book a seat for myself. The decision was made for oldest son Bill and I to line up early and head for the unreserved balcony seats and the others could sit together. It wasn’t planned but it was a good outcome – at least I thought so.

 

Of course, with the 2020 Cats Pies Semi-Final being played in Brisbane, none of us can attend. Home viewing is the only option. Bill has moved out of home and Audrey is in college in upper New York State, so for the purposes of intra-household rivalry, balance has been restored. There is general family consensus that I am not a good person with whom you want to watch a game of footy on the TV when Collingwood is playing. When the opposition is Geelong, this becomes fraught. Last week when it became evident that this was to be the match-up, Helen declared that as Geelong were the designated home team, Herb and I would have to watch the game elsewhere. I read between the lines – Herb was probably welcome to stay; I should find somewhere else to watch.

 

As it turned out, I was allowed to watch the game at home. Herb had gone to his girlfriend’s house, so I was outnumbered two to one.

 

Do you know what is worse than having opposition supporters (family members) complain about your game-watching behaviour? Opposition supporters having sympathy on you because your team is so bad. Thanks Helen and Urs, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

 

I have to write about the game. It is very difficult. I don’t want to think about it let alone re-live it. My notes at half time state that this was the worst ever performance by Collingwood in a game of football. That may or may not be true, but to that point, Collingwood had had just two shots on goal. In an entire half of football. One flying shot for goal from a stoppage – by Elliott -which was on target, and one set shot from 50 by De Goey which went out on the full. (As a brief aside can they please get rid of the statistic “scoring shots”? It is mis-representative. “Shots-on-goal” is a more accurate record of what has occurred in the game.)

 

At half time the margin was 54 points. We did not look at the goal at all in the entire second quarter. Normally reliable players are having their worst performances. Noble had not played a bad game all season. Until tonight. Quaynor had really developed as a solid defender. Until tonight. Stephenson had had a poor season but had shown glimpses in the two previous games that things were starting to come back together. Until tonight. At some stage in the second quarter I noted that Stephenson was standing the mark and thought: oh that’s right, Stephenson is playing.

 

We were getting smashed in the centre clearances and then things just deteriorated from there. How can that happen? When I saw that Cameron had been selected I thought that had been an emotional decision – reward for what had been a good game against West Coast. But Geelong did not have the same ruck prowess as West Coast and so there should have been similar courage shown at the selection table as had been demonstrated the previous week, and Cameron replaced by a running player. Not that it would have made a difference to the final result, but it seemed to represent a failure in planning. At one stage in the second quarter Cox competed in a ruck contest in the Geelong forward line. If Cameron is in the team, then Cox didn’t have to relieve Brodie Grundy. Maybe Cox just got bored waiting for the ball to come up his end and decided to wander down the other end where all the action was happening.

 

At the start of the third quarter both Pendlebury and Grundy started on the bench. Why? No, I don’t know either. We had a few forays into the forward line early in this quarter but still no additional shots on goal. Eventually the ball went up the other end; Madgen made another blunder, but on this occasion only a Geelong behind resulted. Geelong supporters will be ravenously devouring the television replay of this game – but even they will be fast-forwarding the entire third quarter. Geelong scored two behinds for the period. That was double what Collingwood could manage.

 

My US-based daughter Audrey had forked out A$27 for a weekly AFL pass and got herself out of bed at half past 4 in the morning to watch this game. She went back to bed during the third quarter and won’t be using the remainder of the week-long access to watch any replays.

 

Collingwood kicked 4 goals in the last quarter, and still lost the quarter. It got so bad that Gary Rohan took a contested mark in the Geelong forward 50. Gary Rohan? He is a hopeless finals player, and he is taking contested marks? At least he missed the set shot.

 

So. To the positives. There are just two that come to mind. The first positive was that we did not have to endure the commentary of either BT or Bruce McAvaney for this game. I think Queensland should change their rules and keep BT in quarantine permanently. And the second positive is that based on his performance bouncing the ball, until they change the requirement to bounce the ball at the start of the quarter and after a goal, Ray Chamberlain will not be umpiring another game at this level. Personally I believe the centre bounce should be discontinued permanently, but if we need to retain it until Chamberlain leaves the game, then I can be happy with that.

 

Last week Mark Mullins refused to award Danny Roach votes for Collingwood’s worst performed for the game because he thought that after such a great win, it would be inappropriate. This week I am having exactly the same thoughts regarding the votes for Collingwood’s best players. In accordance with Floreat Pica protocols, if I do manage to identify any “worthy” recipients, they will be communicated separately.

 

 

To read more from Andrew, click HERE.

 

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About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.

Comments

  1. Nicole Kelly says

    Oh Andrew… the agony of not just the loss, but the way we lost was real. I can’t imagine having Geelong supporters nearby (even empathetic ones). A bitter way to end the season, but I enjoyed (??) your recount of it.

  2. Tough day at the office AF but a ripper for Helen. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Can’t recall a Collingwood side not trying to that extent.

    I’ve re-watched the first half (2nd half irrelevant) to try to understand what happened. I now have a few theories of my own.

    I’ve been of the view during this weird 2020 season that if Stanley and Rohan play well the Cats win. They are the real barometres. When Rohan out-marked Moore I knew the Pies had chucked it in.

  3. Mark Poustie says

    Nugget, put the game behind you …and quickly. May prove difficult if Helen wants to reflect. Loved the back story on your mother and the Froudes and agree wholeheartedly with your views on BT, Bruce and Ray..

  4. Your family history was fascinating. Your football team was deplorable (thanks for making my Eagles 1 point worse than the worst Collingwood team of all time – and saving us from further embarrassment).
    Luke Darcy’s constant earnest inanity makes my ears hurt. I’d take Bruce in a heartbeat. The highlight of the WAFL season was still hearing the urbane Dennis.

  5. AF,

    Thought I was reading Tim Winton or A.B. Facey there for a while. Did your Mum talk more about her childhood before she died?

    As for the Pies? Crazy stuff. Going in, I really thought it was a 50-50 game.

    Hi to Helen.

    JTH

  6. Andrew Fithall says

    Thanks for your comments folks.
    Nicole – while I am not over the poor performance, at last there are some in the household who are happy. I may have to be careful about which team I barrack for this Saturday night. Want Port to win Friday. If the premiership goes to a non-Victorian team, it is so much easier to bear when you don’t encounter the team’s supporters. Not that there are any chance encounters of anyone here in metro Melbourne at the moment.

    Thanks Dips. Rohan outmarking Moore was really the final straw. I had Moore in Pies’ top three – there was little competition for places.

    Poust – Helen and Urs have both watched the replay but have been very considerate by watching it on portable devices rather than on the TV. They will want to watch football shows on Foxtel this week – particularly AFL 360. As the household cook, it is my job to schedule meals for serving at 7.30 and no one is allowed to leave the table until the meal is complete. Looks like 7-course meals on the menu this week.

    Peter B – I am with you regarding Luke Darcy – there was a bit of on-line chat on Saturday night expressing similar views. I don’t know why but our game has two many commentators who think it is about them. With the exception of perhaps a couple of European soccer commentators whose post-goal reactions are over the top, I don’t know of other sports in the world who have to endure what we do. Dennis was a welcome, and now missed, exception.

    JTH – Mum didn’t talk much about her childhood. I was communicating yesterday with a cousin whose father was mum’s younger brother. It was the same in his family with some late-life disclosure but many gaps in the stories. Remarkably, mum and her brothers all grew into fine adults (and had wonderful children!!!).

  7. Andrew Fithall says

    In my article I refer to a trip to Perth in 2011 the day of the AFL grand final. It was to the Under 15 lacrosse nationals at which my girls were playing. It was this trip I met Sue Sofarnos for the first time. Sue was a Carlton supporter but made very plain this day she was barracking for Geelong (or against Collingwood – it is what Carlton supporter do). Sue was a wonderful woman who died suddenly a few weeks ago. In the Dogs/Saints final Lachie Hunter wore a black armband in Sue’s honour.

    This article by Anthony Colangelo has just gone on The Age website

    https://www.theage.com.au/sport/unbelievable-sue-sofarnos-is-still-giving-to-lacrosse-even-after-her-tragic-death-20201010-p563uy.html

  8. Danielle Hakim says

    Defs a game to be forgotten for us.
    I kept saying would love just ONE more win each week but then deep inside knowing that
    it would hurt about a million times more to come up short on the big day instead kinda make it okay to deal with.
    Happy we made it as far as we did, we had a year full of obstacles!
    We had only 1 happy Cat in this household, i blame my father in law for accepting his switch haha.
    Pies 2021!

  9. Chamberlain was bouncing the ball way off centre in the Port v Geelong qualifying final and it was rising barely head height. The other 2 did it properly. Why does this bloke think he is part of the entertainment or entitled to do things his own way? Agree, he should never umpire a final again.

    I disagree re the centre bounce, think it is one of the great and unique features of our game, no other game in the world has anything like it when it is done properly. How is it that 30 or more years ago, when we had a single field umpire and they bounced the pill at every field scrimmage, thus maybe 50+ times a game, that the current blokes can barely manage 6 or 8 each?

  10. Completely with you Bucko.

  11. Andrew fascinating re the family and yes not much you can do when you’re team is getting annihilated second to the ball and errors makes it look like not trying when it can be the exact opposite.As a umpire bin the bounce it is complete and utter insanity that a umpire is required to perfect a skill which has nothing to do with the game- Why oh why people think it adds to the spectacle has me stuffed i don’t reckon anyone has ever left a game saying wasn’t the umpires bouncing magnificent today- just throw it up fair for everyone don’t think they’re weren’t terrible bounces in years gone bye they just weren’t recalled and we didn’t have all games broadcast or saturation media so way less of a focus – get the best decision makers and sack
    Kennedy and Sawyers and get back to common sense side on to the contest positioning grrrrrr.
    Razor Ray getting dropped is for me a massive plus he isn’t called the,Cath and Kim look at look at me umpire for nothing disregarding his bouncing,thanks Andrew

  12. John Butler says

    AF, I won’t insult you by pretending to sympathise. I will say, however, that last week was a truly magnificent effort from the Pies. Clearly they spent all their chips.

    It makes you appreciate once more just how magnificent a finals series the Bulldogs produced in 2016.

    I’m glad you managed to fit a 1970 GF reference in. It saves me from having to do so.

    I hope everyone is coping in the circumstances.

    Cheers

  13. Frank Taylor says

    Loved your preamble Andrew and your lens on The Game and The Club. Thanks,
    Floreat Pica
    Frank

    PS Bucko and Dips – totally on the same page……..

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