I spy with my little eye – Round 22 2011 – Collingwood versus Brisbane

After living in Queensland for the four footy seasons of 2007 – 2010, I guess it’s only fitting that I do the match report for the Pies and Lions game.

And after the ground-breaking controversial news of the Queensland footy official leaking highly sensitive reserves team selection information to Collingwood, and my recent scandal at the closed Carlton training session, my conscience has finally caught up with me and I have a confession for my FPS brethren (& sisterethen). Yes, I’m a spy. I know I run the risk of being grilled by some bloke called Adwian and tortured with the repetition of the words like “process” and “integrity of the competition”, but I had to come clean about being another major player in Collingwood’s underground espionage system.

In my strategic Queensland based role, I provided critical and sensitive information to the Collingwood hierarchy. Every Friday I scoured the back pages of the Courier Mail for QAFL team selections, and I even attended some games at the Fisherman’s Road Oval to see the Maroochy Roos and their opponents. Some of my most important revelations included:

–       “psssst, Leuenberger is coming back from injury and guess what, he’s named in the ruck”

–       “heads up guys, Andrew Raines is growing some facial hair, if you see a bearded guy come up to tag you it could be him”

–       “wooooaaaa, just spotted Danny Dickfos playing at full forward for Zillmere, watch out for a shock mature age rookie inclusion in the team”

Despite this Collingwood spy scandal breaking before the game, and with eight of our best 22 in the stands (or were they?), I was pretty calm and relaxed about the game. Two late changes with Krakouer and Davis out of the side may have seemed like just a normal part of today’s trend of resting players to the untrained eye, but those Joe Publics and media types are so gullible.  Both are native Western Australians and part of the Pies secret agent spy regime and were nowhere to be seen in the stands on Saturday night. Yes, in the darkness of the night, both Agent #007 and #1 boarded a private jet to Perth. Armed with the WAFL team selections from Friday’s West Australian, they were sent to our secret hideaway in Perth a week out from the Freo game to gather intelligence on the Dockers reserves list. Their security encrypted reports should arrive in my in-box tomorrow as we scheme and plot the Dockers downfall for next week.

But, back to the Lions game. With 36% of our best 22 out of the side, Agent #25 was named for his debut and other youngsters #28, #23, #27 and #3 made their return. When the side ran out there was a cute little mascot kiddie alongside the players and with our current spate of injuries, I thought he might have been another late inclusion.

The Chief started the side with an experiment of #2 playing up forward, #23 starting at CHB and had #25, fresh out of spy school, starting on the back flank. Like a carrot at a vegetarian restaurant, #25 was in everything early. An early throw, that Murali would be proud of, and sprayed shot on goal wasn’t a great start and then his first effective possession was a kick the wrong way that hit a Lions player in the head at close range and ricocheted into the hands of a Pies teammate!! Boy this kid was entertaining!

The Lions started well and exposed some open spaces for some early goals. The Pies defence without experienced agents #5, #39, #26, #1 and with #2 up forward, seemed a bit out of sorts and some uncharacteristic fumbles from #8 and #20 saw the Lions match it with us early. Overall we were pretty lacklustre and our intensity wasn’t great with a low tackle count. Agents #17, #10, #4 and #28 were getting a bit of the ball and Agent #13, unlike his namesake from Control who was the master of the inconspicuous and camouflage, was showing his flair with a couple of “nearlies”, including an audacious banana poster and his sky-rocket impersonation mark of the century attempt. A lazy and wasteful quarter, but I was confident that we would turn it around.

By quarter time, The Chief had clearly had enough of the experiment with #2 and #23 and instructed Larabee to swap them back around, whilst he visibly berated #27, in full view of all the prying cameras and opting not to use the Cone of Silence.

There was an immediate lift in intensity and we dominated possession inside our forward line for most of the second quarter. Secret Double Agent #12, who recently defected from the Forces of Evil to join the Pies, was working hard as usual and along with young #28 laid some great tackles which lead to #36 showing his strength and class with a great goal from a clearance. #35 showed some of the class of the legendary Agent #35 from the Alumni of the 80s & 90s with a snap goal around the body and also some other strings to his bow with a strong pack mark and “don’t argue” evasive tactic. #6 was showing some confidence in the backline taking his opportunity to impress with some great spoils and a few dashing runs. Young #28 impressed with some fantastic one percenters setting up goals for teammates and was rewarded for his efforts when he found space deep in the forward line and marked and goaled from the angle. High profile Agent #32 was also impressive in the second quarter with a couple of goals and a few close misses.

The Lions were hanging in there though, with Leuenberger playing well in the ruck (don’t say I didn’t warn you, Chief!!), two blokes in their forward line that both looked like Andy from “Hamish & Andy” – Staker and Karnezis – that obviously confused our backline and McGrath also dangerous up forward. At one stage, someone asked who was on McGrath and the modern day answer to the question was “No-one, they’re just structuring around him”. But the Pies finally sorted out the early Kaos and were back in Control with a lead of 16 points at half time.

Speaking of modern day mysteries, I must recount a bizarre incident from half time. At the ground level concourse in between the standing room bay and the Bar/Food Kiosk, with the heat of the busiest foot traffic of the day, the MCG staff decide to bring out the cleaner with his mop & bucket, illuminous warning signs and brush & pan. So here’s this poor bloke trying to clean the floor, bumping into people and people accidently kicking over all his stuff.  It was a comedy and a disaster all rolled into one, not to mention that it was a complete and utter waste of time trying to clean the walkway when there’s another bloody half of the game to go! It was probably one of those “you had to be theres” but, as Harry Hoo would say, it was “Amazing”.

The third quarter started and continued on like the second, with the Pies taking charge. Like the lads from Tottenham last week, we started to run riot.  The highlight was when the Redhead’s match came alight. A mark and 50 metre penalty saw him drill a dead straight drop punt for his first goal in league footy and then a minute later he snaps a mongrel unintended torpedo for a second. He was on fire.

Agents #36 and #32 continued to show their strength and class with plenty of possessions and goals. #32 copped more blocks that Geoff Boycott’s cricket bat and was double & triple teamed, but still had 15 marks and was a colossus up forward. And every time we looked like we needed a lift, #36 delivered – he was awesome with his strength and willpower and after a few weeks of dodgy disposal, he was deadly with his possessions and was ably supported by double agent #12.

The last quarter dragged on longer than a Harry Kewell/Melbourne Victory contract negotiation and after muscling our way to a 48 point lead, we put the cue in the rack for the second successive week in a final stanza, and let the opposition sneak some junk time goals to flatter them on the scoreboard. The Lions fought on Admirally, but in the end, we won by 1 goal, 12 behinds, our goal kicking was ordinary (a warped barrel is a fools frustration) and with a 48 point lead early in the last and an eye on September/October, #6 and #20 both injured, and a bunch of young agents just out of spy school, a win was a win. Some good signs with experienced Agents #4, #12, #32 and #36 playing well. #34 and #17 returning from injury both had good hit outs. And youngsters #35, #28 and #25 showing promise.

So what happens for next week? Does the important big strong #31 come back into the team, will #007 and #1 come back in and use their inside information to advantage, will #26, #20 and #21 be fit enough to play?

One thing’s for sure, the spy game may be a dangerous business but they’ve still got to follow the rules – #25 can’t play next week. He’s so white, I reckon he’s been going to a de-tanning salon.  There’s no way known he can go to Perth next week, as exposing him to the sunny conditions there must be an Occupational Health and Safety issue.

The James Manson Medal (ya gotta love big Charlie) goes to the best Agent on the day, which has just been sent through to the Chief of FPS.

Go Pies and Floreat Pica.


About Ramon Dobb

A footy and cricket fanatic. A lifelong passionate one eyed Mighty Magpie fanatic. My writing is unashamedly written with one black & white eye open only - so please don't take offence, it's nothing personal, it's just the black & white way! Also a lifelong player and member of Washington Park Cricket Club, the Mighty Sharks. My 15 minutes of fame includes regular contributions to Hot Pies, the 1999-2004 Fanzine, and regular contributor to the Coodabeen Champions weekly competition from their heady 3RRR days. Go Pies and Floreat Pica.

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