Almanac Pies Celebration: Howe good is he?






Sixteen was the magic number in 2023. Yep, 16.

A record equalling 16th Premiership, bringing Collingwood equal with arch rivals Carlton and Essendon. Long-suffering Magpie supporters will know that their team has played in 45 VFL/AFL Grand Finals—winning 16, drawing 2 and losing 27 (which I’m less inclined to mention, is also a record). Long-belittled as the team who got the ‘Colliwobbles’ in close encounters, the Pies under Craig McRae have shaken off the stereotype in heart-stopping style.

Every year as the AFL season progresses, and the winner of the Grand Final becomes apparent, stories are found about the players, coaches and fans who have been a part of the win and have cemented themselves in the history of the game. But in 2023, the sheer number of stories seems unprecedented. Throw a dart and you landed on a story that lifts the hearts of not only Collingwood supporters, but the wider world of footy fans. Whether it was Bobby’s Norm Smith, or the Daicos brothers’ winning a premiership together, Nick kicking the first goal of the Grand Final, just as his father Peter did in 1990. Or perhaps, previous captain, Peter Moore, handing the cup to his son and current captain, Darcy. It could be the story of the big American who has won the hearts of Collingwood fans—with the chant of U.S.A a regular occurrence at Collingwood games. The old dogs, Pendlebury and Sidebottom, steadying the ship and leading the charge to victory in the Grand Final, or Will Hoskin-Elliot replicating his great, great grandfather, Charlie Norris, by winning a premiership in the Black and White. But, this season, maybe the story which best sums up the Collingwood, beat-them-at-the-line attitude of this season is that of Jeremy Howe.

Howe was known as the high-flying Melbourne #38 for 100 games, before he moved to the Pies in 2016. He might have been wearing a different jumper, but he kept his number and his high-flying antics when he came to Collingwood, which was a coming home of sorts, as a childhood Pies supporter along with his father and aunties who, according to Howe, were all mad for Collingwood.

Having already won the 2012 Mark of the Year when he arrived, he now holds a record-high 35 nominations for the award. Some contest that he was robbed of the 2017 Mark of the Year win by Joe Daniher, but given the outcome of the Grand Final, most of us are content to let Joe keep the title.

Howe, now 33, and having vice-captained the club in 2022 and 2023 has, somewhat poetically, notched up 133 games in the black and white stripes—the last one in the game which secured the team’s 16th Premiership. A great achievement in its own right, this fact is made more extraordinary because, for quite a time, it could have been a game in which he never played.

Howe endured a catastrophic injury in Round 1, which shattered his arm in during a marking contest with Geelong’s Tyson Stengle, which looked like a season-ending compound fracture. As time went on and there were continued set-backs with infection, we wondered whether it might have been the last we saw of Jeremy Howe on an AFL football field. But, after making it back into the team in Round 15, he was never in doubt for a place in the side. And in the final game of the year, Jeremy Howe was never going to just make up numbers.

With 18 kicks, 6 handballs and 9 marks, ranked Howe’s Grand Final performance as 9/10 and described him as “easily one of Collingwood’s best”. Final Siren rated him 99—which was a season-high performance for Howe. This was despite another bone-breaking collision in the final quarter of the game.

With just over 18 mins on the clock in the fourth quarter, and the ball bouncing around, perilously close to the Brisbane goals, Howe received a handball from Sidebottom in the pocket, to clear it from the defensive 50, when he was given a hard bump by Charlie Cameron. It drew an audible intake of breath from the Pies faithful who watched Howe crumple to the ground. A down-the-field free was taken by Bobby Hill, but as the television coverage came back to Howe, his pain was clearly evident, with the commentators making the call that, “Howe is not in a good way.”

The Collingwood defence was already weakened with Nathan Murphy off early with concussion, and the Lions were pushing hard. When Howe took the bump, Collingwood were only four points up and the Black and White Army had their guts churning and a sense of dread descending. Surely, after all of the close matches Collingwood had won in 2022 and 2023, this would not be the game which they lost?

But Howe stood up, and played on, only later revealing the three broken ribs he had sustained during the incident. After the game, hearing his name called to receive his first Premiership medallion, the roar of the crowd went up and the humble hero simply kissed his medal. Reward for a career. Reward for a season of pain, and fighting to be there. Jeremy Howe showed us what it means to stand up and keep going.

Contracted until the end of 2024, we know the Collingwood faithful will get to watch the #38 go round for at least one more season. One which, hopefully, will be filled with more stories, more medals and less injuries. Who knows, perhaps one day, Howie’s son Zander will pull on the #38 at Collingwood and relive his dad’s high-flying exploits. Howe good would that be?




To read more of Nicole Kelly’s Almanac posts click HERE.



Nicole Kelly is a writer who lives in country Victoria. Her novel Lament was released in October 2020. Visit to order your copy or you can visit to contact her. You can also follow her on Twitter @ruralvicwriter   She is working on her second novel.





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About Nicole Kelly

Is a teacher, mother, writer and all-round lover of words!

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