Harms: The Magpie Creature just won’t die

THIS is madness. I am getting worried. About the creature that is the Collingwood Football Club. It is like some alien in a sci-fi movie; some vile, bile-spewing monster that cannot be killed.

Like some vampire in the last leg of a midnight-to-dawn marathon and all you have to protect you is a pair of flannelette peejays and a hot water bottle.

Like some mega-cockroach you take to with your shoe. And you think you have nailed the little bastard. Only a day later you notice you are walking with a limp because a bit has broken off your heel, and you have spotted the cockroach in the pile of newspapers six-wheeling across a Catherine Deveny column.

No. The Collingwood Football Club is tougher than that. It is about as tough as the cane toad, which in just a few generations has become resistant to the five-iron, the lob wedge and cylinder mower.

And I am getting a little paranoid. My thinking is all over the place. If it is not sci-fi and zoology, it is the mythology of Antiquity. I am thinking that if the Greeks were writing their myths right now, some poet would take his chisel to the tablet and begin, “Collingwood was put on this Earth to taunt the people of Geelong.”

Because that is exactly what it has done throughout my lifetime, my father’s lifetime, my father’s father’s lifetime, and my father’s father’s father’s lifetime. Collingwood, with crap lists, has scrapped its way to unlikely victories, and thrown its head back and laughed and laughed and laughed. Often at Geelong’s expense.

I remember days of fierce brutality they have visited upon the innocents of Geelong. In particular, a fixture in the late ’60s when barbaric Pie behaviour kept a steady stream of ambulances rushing between Kardinia Park and the emergency ward of the Geelong Hospital. Yet we fought on valiantly with 17 men, including one who spent the last quarter wounded, the eastern point post at the city end his crutch, crying out for his mother. We were magnificent that day, going down by just eight points. Or the ’80 and ’81 preliminary finals when Ronnie Wearmouth, who looked like Granny Clampett after the bobby pins had fallen out of her bun, put us to the sword.

I was not feeling too bad at all on Saturday night when Adelaide was handing out a footy lesson to the Pies.

At quarter-time, I was enjoying that deeply satisfying (annual) moment when Collingwood is finally as dead as a jellyfish high on the beach. I was giving it a little nudge with my foot. We would face the Crows this Saturday.

Then the monster stirred.

Dane Swan, looking like a removalist’s side-kick, started getting free. Ben Johnson bombed a couple through, if you can believe that. Brad Dick, who surely deserves a reprise of the famous old Australian nickname ”Skeeter”, could not be stopped. The discordant music started ringing in my ears.

By the last quarter it was ridiculous. All Sculthorpe and Push Button Auto. Collingwood. Adelaide. Collingwood. When Kurt Tippett kicked that goal and Adelaide looked home, I sighed the sigh of the boy who has woken up from a nightmare.

And then Jack Anthony. Jack Anthony. Please God, extra time. And plenty of it.


I was instantly nervous. I looked at the Canberra newspaper on the table. “Belconnen Magpies Premiers.” I got on the internet to check the progress of Doncaster Rovers and to find out a few country footy scores. Magpie victories at every click.

Having followed the fortunes of the Tanunda Football Club, yet another Magpie team, I logged on to its website: it is in this weekend’s grand final in the Barossa footy league.

But worse. Worse. On its site, I saw that Tanunda had signed on to the international register of magpie clubs, which this week is featuring the Putney Magpies in London.

And I said in a pained whisper: “There is an international register of Magpie clubs.”

Imagine it: all the Pies coming together. To take over the world. A conspiracy of men with one lens out of their Coke-bottle glasses, and their haggish lovers. Breeding like cane toads. And Mick Malthouse predicting the climate change that will facilitate it.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh. Madness.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. lol..well that was an entertaining read.
    firsly if we were going to take over the world we would have done it by now so relax lol!

    P.S John Harms fears SUPERMAN!! LOL :p


  2. Love it …

    Harms sounds worried …

    Heres hoping ….

  3. Pamela Sherpa says

    Danielle’s right. Collingwood aren’t going to take over the world. They just think they are.

    If Collingeood lose, will Malthouse melt and will Eddie evaporate?

  4. jth

    fyi – no cane toads in our neck of the woods were a match for the old SS Jumbo Master Blaster we kept in the garage.

    Granny Clampett! Hilarious.

    Great read.


  5. well, not only have we died but weve been buried!!!!
    despite not watching the game in not going to hold it agianst Geelong because I HATE THE SAINTS TOO MUCH.
    GO CATS!!!!

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