Grand Final – West Coast v Collingwood: And now we are done

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men



With final siren’s note still sounding, long long arcs of time and place sweep wash carve their ways through me, into me. I am old.

Grand final.

Grand final.


A grand final day begun young, naive, begun as uncontrolled youth in Asia. Begun as hope-ful. Begun amid imagination and begun with joy. Begun for what else is there?

Blue sky.

Blue sky.


And now we are done.

It is done.

The game is up.

The game is up.

Long will the very game itself live in memory and should do so for more than its denouement. Long will it live in impression and long for its crashabang crazyball opening of sleight of hand and of Fagin’s urchins and chaos mayhem fizz. Long for its steady thundering hulks of men wearing blue and gold; marching on as Tolkien’s orcs. For its unwavering drama; feelings and unknowing that can never ever be repeated but rather can be held only as long as a flame is held.

The drama.

Such was the drama.


All September to support Collingwood was to barrack for the heist. To barrack for the pickpocket, for the trick. A game, an idea built on the players available; on the skills and attributes of the players available; a game of high wire midfield antics, of Federer defenders and recklessly swooping Magpie forwards. #swoop #whack #whatwasthat


A team of men who, had they each been appraised by A.B. Paterson would have fitted his description of the Timor pony.

“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.”

A.B. Paterson, The Man from Snowy River


And West Coast. West Coast with their plans, their ideas.



A touch of Timor pony there, too.

I suppose.

Yet. It is through Collingwood eyes that I watch; I experience Grand Final 2018.




The buds are into it. They decorate.

“Dad can I walk down to the newsagent for some black and white paper?”

Paper chains.

A table (black table cloth) full only of black and white food.

Scarves are on.

We’re laughing, smiling.

Our team is in the big one.


Old now as I am, I see this.

I see this.

The moments we had are there forever now.

Forever now.


“You can’t create experience; you undergo it.”

Albert Camus



The game, the kicks, marks, blocks.

The decisions, the runs, spoils, hits.

They happen and they don’t.

They’re real and they’re not.

We cheer and we yell.

We ooh and we ahh.

We slump and we shrug.

Our Collingwood made the Grand Final.

With West Coast, they made the Grand Final.

A grand grand final.

The siren sounds.

And that is all.


We shrug.

We stand.

I bring in the washing.

Shrug again.

“Ahh well- at least we made the Grand Final, Dad.”

“They played really well, Dad.”

Triumph and disaster washing easily through these walls.

The siren sounds.

And that is all.


“And indeed nothing had happened, a momentous nothing, just another of the great world’s shrugs of indifference.”

John Banville, The Sea


Old now; so old.

But young again.

Forever young.


There is no what-if.

There is no maybe.

No next year.

For next year could be anything.

Saints v Dockers?


There only is what is.


And what is there?

This is what there is.

There is memory of 2018 adventure, of play.

Memory of unexpected advance.

Memory of S Sidebottom weaving, creating, running.

Memory of J Howe diffusing bombs via the application of impressionist art.

Memory of B Grundy going again. And again.

These things. And yet these striking memories of individuals are eclipsed by memory of team; memory of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts.


Well done those people.

Thanks for the ride.

Well done Collingwood.

You were magnificent.

Well done West Coast.

You thwarted the wish.

Which happens.


“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses



That was footy in 2018.

It is done.

Tomorrow is another day.

It is always today.




“What day is it?” asked Pooh.

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.

“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

A.A. Milne



For David Wilson’s Collingwood Dreaming, Part 1, CLICK HERE:


For David’s Collingwood Dreaming, Part 2, CLICK HERE:


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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. “…..feelings and unknowing that can never ever be repeated but rather can be held only as long as a flame is held.”
    “Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”
    What they said. They can capture lightning in a bottle, them blokes. Oughta write a book some day.
    And four days later the euphoria is starting to ebb into some sort of zen calm. I refuse to analyse the game. I cannot analyse it. Cos I felt it more than I saw it. Never happened before. Likely not happen again. Cotton wool in the cracks to hold back seeping memory. Precious. It all is.
    Mama told me there’d be days like this.
    ER – as the Weagles said to CJudd as he departed and JK walked in – “so long and thanks for all the fish”.

  2. John Butler says

    E Reg, you don’t need to be hearing from we Carlton types at the moment. I’ll just say, nice piece.

    There is always the sea.

  3. Carole Fabian says

    Lovely piece, David. What a great perspective! Especially the Pooh quote :-)

  4. Go surfing ER – it cleanses everything.

  5. ER; beautifully put. It might be just a game but to many it is more. I recall the devastation on the faces of the Magpie cheer squad banner people and Bucks consoling them. During the lead up to the grannie and for most of the game I felt like a child again.
    “When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
    Out of the corner of my eye.
    I turned to look but it was gone.
    I cannot put my finger on it now.
    The child is grown, the dream is gone.
    I have become comfortably numb.” (Pink Floyd)
    Today is today but will there be another day?

  6. The Rhymer says

    Eloquently put, and lessons learned.

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Just brilliant ‘Old Boy’. The pain (memory) will probably never completely go away, yet we’ll find a way to manage it and re-load for 2019.
    Context: The 2018 Magpies won back the love and respect of their own fans. Dangerous and irresistible at the same time. That’s hope and faith.
    Towards the end I just found myself hoping they could hold out and win it for Bucks and Trav.
    To borrow from Lou Reed: “See ya next year at Collingwood’s Halloween parade”.

  8. Well compiled Mr Regnans. Good linking of the threads.

    “People who understand everything get no stores”.

    Bertolt Brecht ..


  9. Nadeesha Dharmasiri says

    What a touchy piece Dave. Loved reading it. My favourite quote “You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

  10. Love the image of the sea below your words, soothing the downcast soul.

  11. Matt Zurbo says

    Beautiful, beautiful writing!!

  12. “More things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way.” More Cormac (from Blood Meridian to ease your pain and confuse you nonetheless.

    I love your breezy style of thinking and communicating. Good soulfulness for the buds.

    If unsure, take Dips advice.


  13. Glorious, ER.


  14. Thanks all.
    With this washing of the sea, I get to wondering – ‘what is success?’
    And ‘what difference does any of this make to anyone?’
    And ‘why?’

    I feel for the defeated players and coach. Will they be marked by this? Defined by this?
    It depends on how they measure themselves, I guess.
    I’d like to think we’ve moved beyond people feeling defined by awards, and towards people being recognised for who they are; what they bring. Externals v internals.
    But then, all footy teams aim for premierships.

    We keep going.

    Here comes another wave.
    And another one.
    And another one.

  15. So much to consider.

    You put me right into your Saturday morning kitchen. I can hear the cutlery clanking in the sink. And the request to duck down to the newsagent.

    Then the game and what happens.

    I love the curve ball you throw in your comments: ‘But then all teams aim for premierships’.

    You make me think.

  16. Hi JTH – yes, a lot to consider.
    Making it up as we go. Choosing which parts are real. Which parts will become part of us.

    Others will have different ideas.
    Making up different histories, grievances, heroes.

    It all has me feeling now (a week later) like I’m stumbling into the untouched village of Macondo.

    “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions. First they brought the magnet. A heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquíades, put on a bold public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the learned alchemists of Macedonia. He went from house to house dragging two metal ingots and everybody was amazed to see pots, pans, tongs and braziers tumble down from their places and beams creak from the desperation of nails and screws trying to emerge, and even objects that had been lost for a long time appeared from where they had been searched for most and went dragging along in turbulent confusion behind Melquíades’ magical irons. ‘Things have a life of their own,’ the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. ‘It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.’ ”
    -One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

  17. Every day it gets easier. Four weeks since our loss and the mood is lighter. Other things have taken over. One week since yours, and hopefully, David, you’re feeling better as each day passes. It really is just a game.

  18. G’day Jan. Good on you.
    I’m not one to take this on board as a personal difficulty.
    By the time I’d folded the jocks everything was OK.
    It certainly is a game.
    And it brings out interesting aspects to people – which I love.

    Greg Baum here:

  19. Er- great piece on a great game.

    After a pretty ordinary finals series (indeed the previous Eagles v Magpies clash was the only highlight) this was a mighty match. With the last clash of the season proving to be one of the all-time epic finals does it carry enough symbolism and momentum to prevent the suite of ridiculous rule changes?

    Thanks very much.

  20. Philosophical and v thoughtful as always,OBP thank you

  21. Brett 'BD' Dutschke says

    Love the melody and positivity, ER. Your buds have learned well.

    A good quote to remember, Nadeesha.

  22. Frank Taylor says

    Nice one Tall Man, nice one.


  23. Mathilde de Hauteclcoque says

    Barracking for the heist. There should be more of that! It’s a great paragraph and perfect for describing life. Wish our leaders would embrace a bit more of the passion and attention of the heist rather than try to sell us the concept of control and win ALL the time. That’s one thing footy does teach.

    Hope the disappointment is somewhat soothed M Ash.

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