FPS: Pies open campaign without pain

Pies open campaign without pain


Round One (now known by the AFL as “Opening Round”) is a time characterised by hope, expectation and over-interpretation of results.  Supporters head off expectantly to see their club’s new chums and gauge their team’s prospects for the coming season.

Round One, 2011 was unique for me in that it was the first time in my life that I have headed off to Round One with the Pies as both reigning premiers and flag favourites.  As I prepared to head to the Dome it definitely felt different and I was less anxious than before previous round ones.  Maybe it also had something to do with the lowly ranking given to our opponent, the decidedly low-profile Port.

The match turned out to be a throwback to the good old/bad old days at Vic Park.  30,000 odd Pies fans and a very small mob of the opposition provided a one-sided atmosphere as the Pies crushed inferior opposition without providing much insight into the merit of our blokes.  The toilet facilities at the Dome however were far superior, and I didn’t go home with urine-soaked runners as I did most Saturdays from Vic Park (I can already hear Holly saying “TMI Dad” i.e. too much information).

The Pies started quite flatly, with Port serving it up to them in the early stages, and the skills of both teams understandably rusty.  We looked very dangerous when we went forward, but also looked a bit vulnerable down back when Port took it forward quickly, without the physical presence and size of Brown and the leadership of Maxwell.  Three goals apiece at the twenty minute mark was a fair reflection of the game before the Pies edged ahead with a couple of late goals, capitalizing on errant disposal out of defence by Port.  The key play of the game, and the match, came in the dying seconds, when Swan smothered a kick, gathered the ball, ran inside 50 and kicked truly as the siren rang.  Inspirational stuff and demoralising for the Power.

The second quarter began as the first ended, a procession for the Pies who added seven to make it ten goals in a row and out to a ten goal margin.  This continued Port’s recent tradition of being unable to stem opposition runs.  Swanny and Benny J both got plenty of ball and provided ample opportunities for the forwards, led by The Beast.  Our forward structure of Dawes and Cloke as the main marking targets inside 50 and Krakouer and Didak at their feet looks a good one.

The game appeared over at half-time, but Port came out with other ideas, winning the clearances and getting the ball forward quickly, where our defence again looked vulnerable.  We had our B midfielders in at the clearances and a few of our blokes looked like they thought it would just happen without the required levels of effort.  When Port got it back to 16 points, it was game on.  Jolly went back into the ruck and Swan, Pendlebury and Thomas put the foot down as we not only steadied but ran away.  A piece of Krakouer magic resulting in a goal ignited the Pies and whetted the appetites of Pies aficionados.  We were back out to a seven goal lead at the oranges break. 

The last quarter was extended junk time, with lots of very tired bodies struggling to push back hard in defence, meaning some soft goals.  Maybe it was partly round one, partly the new interchange/substitute rule.  Time will tell.  Buckley’s 60 metre bomb goal was the highlight of the quarter – where have I written/heard that before ? While Simon can kick a long ball, his ability to pinpoint a target was the reason Melbourne ditched him, and it remains to be seen whether he has improved this aspect of his game enough to be a regular.

Paul raised an interesting issue in the last quarter.  If Travis is pushing back to the goal square and is awarded a free kick as an opponent takes the ball over the goal line, can we claim this as our advantage and take the point without Travis having to kick at goal ?  An interesting one, especially if scores are level late in a game !!   He kicked a couple of good ones today, but missed an easier one as well as having the obligatory “missed everything” shot.

All in all a pleasing result against modest opposition, and Didak will have benefited from another game under his belt. Greater tests lie ahead.

Votes for the Floreat Pica Society’s prestigious Michael Horsburgh Medal are :

3  Benny J – a round one specialist (refer his three goals on debut in Round 1, 2000) he provided run and drive all day

2 Swanny – Swanny did what Swanny does, ran hard, attracted the ball, used it well, snuck forward and kicked goals

1 The Beast – Stork told me at half-time that Peter Hudson has predicted that Dawes will kick one hundred goals this season.  I will be pleasantly surprised (read shocked) if that happens, but he was a great target this day, marking well and he is clever and puts on great pressure when the ball hits the ground.

The Josh Mahoney Medal goes to Benny J.  In the words of the great Peter Landy “he is the early leader.”

A couple of extra features for the first report of the year. Firstly, a pair of trivia questions :

1)     The only other time we have played Port in Round 1 was in 1997 when Port made its AFL debut.  Which Pies player played his final game for the club in that 79 point victory ?

2) Who is the last player to have played in an AFL premiership and represented Victoria in the same year ?

Answers later in the week.

Secondly, I rarely make comment on other matches, but will make an exception for the garbage served up by St Kilda and Geelong on Friday night.  Their recent clashes have been epics, but this one left me wishing that Homes and Gardens ran for four hours.

I put the blame fairly and squarely on Saints Footy.   The Saints’ clashes with Port and the Bulldogs last year were as tepid and stodgy as any footy I have seen and this was more of the same.   When will their brains trust show more faith in the cream at the top of their list and allow them some more free rein ?  Paul Roos must be wondering why El Supremo Andrew hasn’t unleashed his wrath on his good buddy and protégé Ross Lyon.

The Saints can be particularly stodgy in Round One – in 2008 they defeated Sydney 6.15 (51) to 6.13 (49) at the Dome in what was considered one of the worst season-openers of all time.  Both these games support the adage proven by basketball that a close game is not necessarily a good game, despite the inherent excitement at the end.  Thank goodness the Cats won, because this sort of footy should not be encouraged.

Bring on the Roos next weekend !


  1. Ripsnorter says


    Well put – think we should go well again this year – forward line looks the best I have ever seen at Collingwood and we should be able to score heavily. We seem to have the depth to keep players honest in their position which is what we needed after losing so much experince in the off season.

    I think the answer to question 1 would be Lee Walker – magnificent footballer who would have been a champion if his legs could have held up.

    On the second question if you in include Victoria vs the all stars then in my reckoning Campbell Brown, Sam Mitchell and Trent Croad all achieved this feat in 2008 but I may be on the wrong thread.

    Good luck with follwing the pies this year – it is unusual to have such high expectations at this time of year.

  2. Phil Dimitriadis says


    long way to go and much can happen, but we couldn’t have asked for a more emphatic beginning to a season. Krakouer looking ominous, still not convinced about Buckley and Tarrant. Blair has improved and Benny J might yet give the Horsburgh medal a shake if he keeps that form up!

  3. Peter Flynn says

    G’day Steve,

    I really enjoy reading your reports.

    I giggled at your ‘up the tree’ celebration moment in 1990. Not mentioned in this report.

    D Fleming has also predicted Dawes to kick a ton.


    PF (reverse of FP)

  4. Dawes is a smart player and a lovely kick. HIs kicking style reminds me of Daryl White for some reason. It was like D. White used to pretend he was playing a sand iron to a tight pin somewhere between the goal line and the fence, but pretty close to the goal umpire.

  5. Steve Fahey says

    #3 and #4

    Very nice to receive support from Geelong types JTH and Flynny. Lucky I only bagged the Saints !!

    I have proposed separately to JTH an Almanac-led campaign for footyheads to boycott watching this Friday’s game between the Saints and the Tigers as a protest against the garbage served up this week (and on many other occasions by the Saints) in the hope of putting a dent in the telly ratings ?

    “You say you want a revolution Well, you know We all want to change the world”

    What do you think ?

  6. Steve Fahey says

    Many on the FPS list correctly identified Lee Walker as the first answer.

    No-one correctly identified Jarryd Blair as the last player to represent Victoria and play in an AFL premiership in the same year. The small man was selected and played for the VFL rep team last year. He was eligible as he was rookie-listed and not AFL-listed at the time. He was promoted to the senior list, debuted against Port and went on to play in the flag team.

    Floreat Pica

  7. Steve can you email me at [email protected] ? Wanted to ask you a question. Thanks! James.

  8. Steve,

    Re those 1990 post-GF snaps……I am assuming there is no “St Kilda” type filly involved here? Looking forward to being thrown back to that wonderful day.

    Enjoy your work – do you Almanacers do any work?

    Glad Dawesy beat that ridiculous charge. These match review guys often have no idea. Remember C.Judd & elbows last year that robbed Swanny of his Brownlow? Still – he won what they all want to win.

    Cheers Bakes

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