General Footy Writing: Yes, it’s strange, and I’m a bit worried, but I just don’t seem to hate Collingwood like I once did

By Damian O’Donnell

It feels a bit strange to say it, but I don’t think I hate Collingwood the most anymore.

For me this is a huge admission, because my dislike for Collingwood has been a great constant in my life, a sort of anchor. To hate Collingwood is as normal as putting your pants on in the morning.

But things have indeed changed. Donald Rumsfeld put it beautifully; there are things I know I know, and things I know I don’t know, there are things I don’t know I know, and there are things I don’t know I don’t know (unknown unknowns), but one thing I’ve always known that I definitely know is that I hate Collingwood.

I recall several moments where hating Collingwood has actually been a huge benefit. In the mid-1970s I was surrounded in the shelter shed at primary school by a whole group of rabid Richmond supporters, probably pumped after winning the 1974 flag, who wanted me to give them one good reason why they should not belt the living suitcase out of me, simply because I had the temerity to wear my Geelong jumper to school.

The best I could come up with was, “Well at least I don’t barrack for Collingwood”. I did get belted up but at least it delayed matters long enough for one of the girls (the first one I ever kissed) to run to the teachers to get help, thus limiting the belting to a two-minute ordeal rather than anything much longer.

There was another occasion many years later where I went to a party in the back blocks of Narre Warren (don’t ask). It was one of those parties held in the depths of winter where the blokes stood outside around the fire that had been set up in an old washing machine tub, and the girls stood inside doing whatever girls do (I was no longer with the girl I kissed in primary school – just in case you’re wondering).

It dawned on me after a few moments of chatting to some of these blokes (none of whom I knew) that they were all police detectives, and extremely large police detectives at that. In fact the description “the fat detective” would have been most appropriate. I’m only 5’6” in the old language, about the size of a large wheely bin. The smallest of these blokes looked about twice that and they all had necks like Mario Milano. Hence I stood on a rock.

This wasn’t the only reason why I was the odd one out. These policemen were all very willing and able to empty the esky as fast as possible, and because I was driving I had to keep myself to either light beer or water. It was always going to be difficult to fit in. While  they told stories of murders, drug busts and bullet-riddled arrests of armed robbers, I could only come up with tales of nasty phone spats I’d had with the Tax Office, or the story of how the postman fell down our office stairs one day.

So there I was, a short, bespectacled, accountant who was not drinking, surrounded by a group of coppers hell bent on drinking their substantial body weights in beer. Oh, and right next to a fire as well!

I was able to remain reasonably unassuming until about midnight when one of the largest of the large turned to me and leaned ominously close. He was hugging his (15th) VB can close to his chest with one hand and steadying himself on my shoulder with the other. His beer burp was powerful enough to knock me off my rock.

“So … mate”, he spluttered, “Which fuggin’ footy team d’you follow?”

At which point the whole conversation stopped and about twenty red, drunken, life-hardened eyes looked at me.

In a moment of panic I wasn’t sure how to answer. Which team is a safe bet, I asked myself. I’d never say Collingwood even if my life depended on it, but which other one would be safe? Then, remembering my mother’s advice that honesty is the best policy, I squeaked out, “Geelong”.

The bloke did the usual involuntary drunken sway backwards and forwards and ended up about two inches from my face. I wandered how bad death by fire could be.

“Ha!” he yelled, but it was a boozy friendly “ha” as opposed to a hate-filled, aggressive “ha”. “Fuggin’ Geelong! Luggy, mate. You’re fuggin’ luggy. For a second I thought you were goin’ to say fuggin’ Collingwood!”

So hating the Pies came to the rescue again in a funny sort of way. I don’t think my view of Collingwood has changed, I still can’t stand them. I think my view of a few other teams has changed, namely Hawthorn and Port Adelaide. I really hate ’em both.

I hope I remember to put my pants on in the morning.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Dips, I reckon it will only take one heartbreaking loss to put ’em back up at number one where they belong.

    And I’ve had enough Underbelly stories. I wanna hear more about how the postie fell down the stairs!

  2. pauldaffey says


    Who are these hate-filled Richmond supporters of which you speak?

  3. the girls stood inside doing whatever girls do? im my case that would be

    A) standing around conducting brief civialized conversations
    B) taking over the dance floor
    C) all of the above and NOT eating even thought i had been dieting all month for that one night, you would think i would stuff my face.
    now that i think of it, its kind of stupid!

    Collingwood isnt that Bad…heck why do i even bother?

  4. Gigs – you’re probably right. It’s just a phase and will pass.

    About the postman – he’s a big bloke with lots of hair (looks like a miniature woolly mammoth) and one day he caught the top step with his boot and tumbled down to the first little landing (about 10 steps). I thought I would find him all tangled in his own hair and unable to move, but he leapt up and continued down the stairs like nothing had happened. It was magnificent!

  5. uncle tony says

    I too have recently had a personal revelation about the degree of intensity of my dislike for Collingwood.All was revealed when listening to the Collingwood and Cartlon game when my inner person spoke loudly of the pleasure of Carlton getting belted.It was in this instant that I realised I actually dislike Carlton marginally more than I dislike Collingwood (i have actuially liked watching Coolingwoods style for the last couple of years )
    The osurce of my discontnet and dislike of both these clubs is their “arrogance” and disrespect for other clubs and in particular their total over exposure by the press (18 photographs of Nathan Buckley in Tuesdays Sun)
    Maybe their is somehting in the old arab saying “my enemies enmy is my friend”

  6. Dips. Gotta love that postman story. Reminds me of an incident at my work a few years back. My colleague George Sindberg (name changed in case I offend this guy – the important bit is that the last part of his surname is “berg”) was a big friendly guy. I discovered why he was so big at a team lunch one day when I noticed that half his pizza had disappeared before most of us had had a bite of ours. I thought he must have given a couple of slices away until I saw him stab the next slice with his fork (bear in mind the pizza was cut into quarters) and somehow managed to make the entire slice fold and disappear into his mouth in one smooth movement.

    Anyway, George was not light. One day I was working at a test PC that was on a long bench that contained several other computers. George came up to me for a chat and decided to sit on that bench next to me while chatting. What happened next become known around my work as the “Sinberg Disaster”. The bench collapsed in in the middle so that two halves of it were leaning in towards George. It was quite a sight to see PC’s, keyboards and mice sliding down from each end the bench and engulf poor George. I can still see huge, bespectacled George’s head sticking out of a mass of wires, monitors and boxes croaking “I’m ok.”

    These memories never leave you. It’s a bit like that day at the Western Oval when Collingwood’s Graeme Allan kicked across his defensive goal with the Pies a couple of points ahead. Simon Beasley chopped it off and kicked the winning goal. The channel 7 footage of that game clearly shows Jim Edmond with a finger pointing to his own head mouthing the words “you’re f**ked” to Gubby.

    Those are the sort of moments that make you hate Collingwood a little less.

  7. I almost know how you feel. A year or so back at the Dubai pre-season game between Collingwood and Adelaide, I almost had to allocate a modicum of respect.

    After the game, (Collingwood got pounded), the playing group made it’s way over to our stand for their warm down walk. Dale Thomas very nicely did as requested and a got a nice shot of him holding up a Bali Geckos sticker for the boys. And even with his showboatin’ celebrations of average goals, I can’t quite get my gander up so much in his direction.

    On the other hand, Didak, the little git, took the sticker, but wouldn’t pose for a photo. So while Thomas has moved into tolerated territory, the mere mention of Didak makes my face tighten.

    Along with Collingwood…

  8. Daff – one of the Richmond supporters who belted me that day is a very good mate to this very day – I forgave him. He could have belted me without any help as he was one of twelve children. I think he learnt to fight before walk. He’s stuck by the Tigers all these lean years, but I’ve noticed his once sparkling sense of humour drop off somewhat.

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