March Champions – Collingwood

Every March us fans need hope to fuel us for another winter of footy.

Will it be the “six foot recruit from Eaglehawk” referred to by Bruce Dawe in Life Cycle?

Will it be Geoff Hayward from The Club? The “kid with potential” who looks the goods, but has “been up his mum and his legless sister”, likes to smoke weed and realises that footy is “macho competitive bullshit” after an exhorbitant transfer fee was paid for his services?

Will it be the Great McCarthy who can fly like an angel,yet has a proclivity for progressive older women filling the space a mother could not? Perhaps it is Achilles Jones from And the Big Men Fly, who can “kick a bag of spuds ten yards!”?

The above examples are from fictional works about footy, but the March Champion is all too real.

At Collingwood, we savour, cringe, debase, laugh (after a decade or so), and finally heave a sigh of uchronic disappointment thinking about what might have been. We at Pieland love a premature backslap and we’ve had a plethora of premature backs to slap since 1958. Here is my best team of Magpie March Champions?

Who are some of the more famous/infamous MC’s at your club and how did you feel  when they started their road to glory and ended up traipsing down the back lane of ignominy?

B: Paul Sharkey – Brett Gloury – Jason Wild

HB: Tony Burgess – Simon Buckley – Matthew Lokan

C: Kent Butcher – Chad Morrison – Murray Wrensted

HF: Heath Shepherd – Andrew Tarpey – Terry Keays

F: Brad Rowe – Mark Bayliss – Bill Valli

Ruck: Mick Horsburgh – Grant Fielke – Garry Shaw

Inter: Dale Woodhall – Danny Roach – John Mrakov – Andrew Tranquilli

Coach: Bervyn Woods

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Wow. What a team!

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Damian Houlihan, Andrew Pascoe, Daryl Groves, Glen Sanford and Brent Tuckey. Just a handful of big bloke disappointments….
    Does Jason McCartney count given he promised much and delivered little for us before being a reasonable player at other clubs?

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Paul Rizonico, Colin Alexander, Athas Hrysoulakis, Frank Raso, Nick Hider, James Wasley, Brayden Shaw and Mark Orval are other names that come to mind.

  4. DBalassone says

    Brad Fuller? Anzac day ’98 glory. Prob. had too much skill to fit into Tony Shaw teams.

  5. Wow Phil ! March champions hey ?

    I was at the bowls club last Friday. The footy was on the big screen. The Collingwood supporters were on fire. You can almost imagine some of the things they said, but by the noise and the content of the conversations you could have sworn, and did they swear, youse had won the 2016 premiership. February flag.

    I’l check on these chaps in September.


  6. Kind of felt sorry for Garry Shaw. Had he been recruited as a nobody we might have been satisfied with the reasonable footy he played. But at $300k – big money in the early 80’s – he was on a hiding to nothing.

    Barry Mitchell… Now there was a major disappointment (albeit Lethal didn’t give him much of a go).

    I think a lot of the names raised I never really held out that much expectation. James Wasley though I thought might have been something with his incredible speed, David Robertson likewise.

  7. Dave Nadel says

    I am not sure that Matthew Lokan belongs in that team, Phil. He had a great first season at Collingwood, culminating with a Rising Star nomination in Round 22. He seemed unable to repeat his first season in subsequent years but I still think his first year qualifies him as something more than a March champion.

  8. Phil- did the term “March champions ” originate in the film of The Club? Or was it in usage before? It sounds exactly like the sort of phrase Lou Richards would’ve coined.

  9. DBalassone says

    My recollection is Jack Dyer saying it to Lou on a pre-season panel in the movie version of The Club.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Geez you could really make a few teams out of the 1996-99 list alone.
    Luke, Jason McCartney was a disappointment although he did play some good games in ’94, particularly a blinder one night against Esseendon. The names you mention along with Stuart Mangin, Luke Godden…very ordinary.

    Damo, Teasdale is debatable as he was plagued with injury. More our fault than his really. Brad Fuller now there’s a contender!
    Glen! I put this team together to stop myself from becoming a prematurely deluded optimist for 2016. The biggest sporting club in Australia has had its share of underwhelming performers.

    JD, David Robertson was considered. He had pace, but no right foot. Mitchell was an indulgence instigated by Allan McAlister. Not liked by Lethal or many envious teammates didn’t help. Gary Shaw had pace, was a good pass, but just didn’t get it enough as a rover. Had a decent perm, though.

    Dave, Lokan’s form was good until the last few rounds of 2003. The less said about his finals performances, the better. He had a few mates from that crop who got found out badly in the ’03 GF, namely Richard Cole, Tristan Walker and Ben Kinnear. They never recovered.

    Mickey, I’m fairly certain it was originally ‘April champions’ as up to 1936 the VFL began the season on the first weekend in May. It later was modified and as Damian, points out, the line was used by Jack Dyer in ‘The Club’ . Cheers

  11. Rick Kane says

    Dear Mr Lord Bogan

    How much more niche can footy analysis get! I’m not going to challenge the inclusion of Murray Wrensted or Bill Valli. How could I? You’ve got this niche covered. What i will add is that both these players were terrific in the WAFL. Of both of them but Murray in particular, we thought in our provincial city of Perf that they would storm the VFL. They were that good locally. Cheers

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Interesting point Slim. Hawthorn was a fairly niche club in 1970. Look at the contrasting fortunes since: Hawthorn 12 flags – Collingwood 2. Off the top of my head I can only think of two names that Hawks could call March Champions and that is Rick Davies and Steve Malaxos. Most of the blokes in my team above would not have got any further than the seconds at Glenferrie. Around 1974-5 the Pies developed the Messiah complex, which Carlton and Essendon are grappling with today. The Hawks have just gone about recruiting the right players and promptly winning premierships every few years while accumulating a massive following in the process. Niche no more.

  13. george smith says

    Interesting that there is one special March champion in there. In one night Simon Buckley achieved so much more than his illustrious namesake, and it was in March!

    the 2011 NAB cup premiership will never mean as much as 1958 or 2010, but our boy achieved a unique record that night.

    He is the only Collingwood player to kick a supergoal in a Collingwood premiership side! A record that will never be equaled or bettered!

  14. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great stat George. Now that is a ripper of a trivia question for generations to come !

  15. Stan the Man says

    Don’t Knock Andrew Pascoe from Norwood – where you got Phil Carman, Mick Taylor, Craig Kelly, Scott Burns, Tony Francis Stephen Patterson, Steven “Brad” Pitt and now Jimmy AIsh from to Norwood call your “own”. He came back to Norwood and is a premiership player in 1997. He kicked bags of 10 goals on a regular basis in the SANFL. BUT better still his 16 year old son is gonna be a gun player so get Balmey to send the spies over cos he will be playing senior footy this year at that tender young age.

  16. G’day Phil. I was down the bowls club last night. The raucous group of Pies fans, who savoured the victory over Geelong in the NAB Cup back in February were not visible or audible.

    Mate your season will improve, though there’s a stern test when you play the neighbouring Tiges next Saturday.

    Good luck for 2016.


  17. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Glen!
    It was a tale of two cultures at play last night. One team with a no dickheads policy vs a team of pampered prematurely back slapped ersatz footballers. Travis Cloke’s performance reflected that of many teammates. He was either unfit, disinterested or distracted. Lots of soul searching needed at Olympic Boulevard this week.

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