Round 18 – Collingwood v Melbourne: Mothballs for Collingwood

It’s been one of those weeks where one questions the faith they have in humanity.

Collingwood lose to Melbourne for the first time in eight years and Jack Watts plays a blinder. How is one supposed to make sense of it all after witnessing something like that?

2015 is over for the Pies and while there have been some good signs with the development of young talent there are still a number of questions that need to be asked. Is Bucks as one-dimensional with his game plan as his predecessor for starters?

Maybe I’m losing touch with the game, but when you win the ball in a contest in the centre shouldn’t there be someone to kick to further afield? Why play Jamie Elliot as a sub if he is 100 percent fit? Why play Sam Dwyer at all?

Is the Collingwood ‘family’ just a little too comfortable with the Bucks and Eddie vision? What if Clarko were to become available in 2017? Would we go after him if 2016 petered out in the same way as the previous three seasons? These questions were infiltrating my mind as I trudged away from the MCG forlorn and dejected this afternoon. Grey skies over Collingwood indeed.

The brevity and dash displayed over the first half of the season has been replaced with mistrust, a lack of confidence and hesitation. Is it the folly of youth or is something else? We laid over 80 tackles on Melbourne. Yes, Melbourne, the most dour, tedious, life-sucking excuse for a football side since, well Melbourne.

Max Gawn looked like a behemoth while Witts and Grundy resembled two men running on their knees. And yet another Harmes comes along and decides to torment us with his flair and bravado. Jack Frost has thawed considerably over the winter. He is missing marks, handballing to shadows and taking sidewards glances when in early June he was a commanding figure as a key defender. Paul Seedsman is quickly turning into the next Mark McGough since his Anzac Medal, Toovey has reclaimed his pre-2010 maladroitness and Pendles is getting caught in possession more often than Cheech and Chong.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Darcy Moore, De Goey, Williams and Langdon have ability. In fact Langdon reminds me of Shane Morwood the way he reads the play off half back. Swanny ran his tattooed guts out, Williams tried to take the game on and Scharenberg showed he could be where the ball is. Varcoe will go close to winning the Copeland this year. I hope he does as he has been a breath of fresh air as a leader and a playmaker. The first indigenous player to win a Collingwood B&F? That would be something considering this club’s murky history with race relations. If only he had someone to kick to today. We missed Clokey, badly.

I first heard the words: “Mothballs for Collingwood” uttered disconsolately by Peter Booth on ABC radio in 1985 as I listened to Fitzroy put an untimely end to our 1985 season. They stuck in my stomach then and reverberated in my head 30 years later when bloody Harmes scored the sealer for Melbourne today. La petit mort or the ‘little death’ is not only apt for the post-orgasmic state. It’s also appropriate for that moment when you know that your team will not be playing finals. It hurts, but I guess there are more important issues to think about this week.

The word ‘tolerance’ for instance. Often misconstrued for accepting, it really means putting up with something that you don’t agree with, but would rather not argue just to keep the peace. Bit of that going around at the moment. How many more losses can Pie fans ‘tolerate’ before starting to speak up? I hear Mick Malthouse is looking for a job next year. Remember him? Might be a vacancy at Carlton. Oh yeah I almost forgot.

I don’t like the way footy is played today. The mauls, the congestion, the lack of one to one contests and most importantly the virtual annihilation of the Full-Forward. In every era that our game has been celebrated, Full-forwards have kicked tons. I don’t know if I’ll see that again in my lifetime and it saddens me.

For the record: I stand with Adam Goodes.

COLLINGWOOD 1.4 4.6 7.10 7.12 (54)
MELBOURNE 4.4 6.5 9.6 13.13 (91)

Collingwood: Fasolo 3, Pendlebury, Varcoe, Witts, Adams
Melbourne: Vince 3, Hogan 3, Garlett 2, Vandenberg, Watts, Harmes, Jones, Howe

Collingwood: Swan, Adams, Sidebottom, Scharenberg, Langdon
Melbourne: Vince, Jones, Gawn, Viney, Garland, Watts, Cross,

Collingwood: Nil
Melbourne: Nil

Collingwood: Jamie Elliott replaced Paul Seedsman in the third quarter.
Melbourne: James Harmes replaced Viv Michie in the third quarter.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Kamolins, Jeffery

Official crowd: 37,894 at the MCG.

Malarkey Medal Votes 3 Max Gawn 2 Jack Watts 1 Dane Swan

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. Stop sooking Phil.
    Be honest.
    Pies are progressing OK and got a bit ahead of themselves a month ago. Only disgruntled scholars like yourself can destabilise the ship. If nothing else, Bucks is a magnificent ambassador.
    But what about the crowd?…people are sick of the AFL moralising and prefer the easy flick of FOX.

  2. Dave Nadel says

    I don’t have a problem with the crowd, crio, and I don’t think it has anything to do with AFL moralising. Melbourne have been playing poorly and the snow would be good at Bulla. Collingwood had lost five in a row and the Melbourne options were to either to win a boring match or be even more embarrassed by losing to a team we beat easily earlier in the season. Neither option was very encouraging. I was one of the 37, 000+ who attended and was definitely embarrassed.

    I am guessing Elliot was a sub because they weren’t sure that he would be able to play 100 minutes. I thought Dwyer played alright, much better than Kennedy last week, but nobody, except maybe Swan played anything like a full 100 minutes.

    To all those Pie fans who bag Cloke because he misses easy shots at goal, today gave a very good example why we need Travis Cloke even when he is kicking poorly. Whatever the final outcome of his shots at goal Travis always gives you a lead and a contest up forward. Our forward line had absolutely no structure all afternoon and even the players who were competing in the forward line (Fasolo at times and various midfielders like Varcoe and Sidebottom) even they found themselves with no-one to kick to.

  3. Hey Phil, loved, “Pendles is getting caught in possession more often than Cheech and Chong” and Dave I agree re how Trav is the structure, not just the guy who misses.
    But why, oh why, drop Jesse White for this game and leave Darcy Moore to wrestle it out with their best 2 backmen?
    The cue is now officially in the rack, presumably Bucks has one more year and I really hope it comes together for him, and the Pies next year.
    Otherwise, I hope they reduce the round to 11 games and then we’d finish top four and be a real chance! :)

  4. DBalassone says

    Thankfully, I missed the game, but you’ve given me a great summary of what was obviously a shocker! Some great lines in there. I’m starting to agree with you re the ugly rolling mass and the abolition of the full-forward. Would love to see Varcoe win a Copeland as well – the man’s pressure acts have been a real highlight this year – and worth a helluva lot more than picking up cheap, ineffective possessions across half-back.
    Ps Re Peter Booth. I recall the other ABC callers used to call him ‘Smooth’, Surely, this was sarcasm?

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Good observations Phil. Such a disappointing loss. Witts and Grundy both looking tired and in need of a rest. While I’ve been calling for White’s axing for most of the season, after perservering with him through so many poor performances, I was surprised he got dropped in Cloke (and Reid’s) absence. D. Moore never stood a chance.

  6. The Pies have been found out, Phil. The game can be pretty horrible to watch at the moment but a team will come along soon that breaks all the congestion to pieces; that runs and kicks and celebrates open spaces. A team like Geelong of 2007 for example!
    Seedsman can come to Geelong if he feels unwanted. I like the way he moves.

  7. I find this Pie July decline remarkable. They were so good against Hawthorn in what was a gripping game of footy.

    I have found myself barracking for Nathan Buckley – as I have mentioned before I find him really interesting.

    Loved the read Lord Bogan. The tone makes me smile.

  8. E.regnans says

    That’s some fine sowing of a silk purse from a sow’s ear, P Dimitiriadis.
    Funny stuff. Great lines.
    Team effort unrecognisable from 6 weeks ago.
    So much I don’t understand…
    (But does anyone?)

  9. Peter Fuller says

    You can look forward to being played back into form next week. Don’t give up just yet. It seems the debilitating effect of the series of narrow losses to the serious teams in the comp have knocked the Pies’ confidence.

  10. David Zampatti says

    There’s nothing complicated about this. The Pies are a mid-to-just-under-mid table outfit right now, and you’ve played exactly to your pozzie all year. In your early run the only one of your eight wins of any note was against Norths; since you started losing, the only loss you mightn’t have predicted was this one.

    You can’t help the fixture (well, Collingwood can, probably, but that’s another story), but all it’s done is determine the ORDER in which you’ve won or lost your games, not the number you’ve won and lost.

    I don’t know whether your young guys are the goods or not. I don’t know whether Jamie Elliot is a genuine star or just the self-centred little jerk he appears to be. I don’t know whether Travis Cloke is a hero with a tragic flaw or just tragic. I don’t know whether Bucks is a coach or just looks and sounds like one.

    And, on the strength of what the Pies have dished up this year, neither do you.

  11. John Butler says

    Toovey = maladroit. Perfect. :)

    I fear Pete Fuller may be correct LB.

    If you think the Pies have the cue in the rack, wait ’til you see the Blues.

  12. John Butler says

    Does anyone else have trouble reading the text as they type in the comments box? Or is this just another sign of my middle-age decline?

  13. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Just about every Collingwood fan, myself included, wants to see Bucks succeed. He is smart, well-spoken, but can he coach at the highest level? I reckon he is coaching like he is afraid to make a mistake and the players are following suit. I’m watching the Bulldogs tear Essendon to pieces and they are full of running. They will play finals under a new coach with a list that is just as young as ours. 2016 looms as a crunch year for Bucks and Eddie. Apparently a couple of disgruntled fans nailed their memberships to the doors of the Westpac Centre this morning and some bloke threw his jumper on the field in disgust. Big Club, Great Expectations.

    Crio, no need to get ‘uppity’ because your Bulldogs look the goods.

    Dave, we are so used to having Cloke to kick to that we were all at sea going forward yesterday. I don’t think White would have made much difference, apart from a couple of points.

    Tim, I thought there would be someone with enough cultural capital to appreciate the Cheech and Chong reference! Cheers

    Luke, I reckon we’ve looked really slow since Witts and Grundy have been playing together and neither really offer a target up forward.
    Damo, used to enjoy listening to ‘Smooth’ commentate with Tim Lane. They balanced each other out as Smooth could get emotional. He had to leave the commentary box in the closing minutes of the 1990 GF because it got too much for him. Gotta love that.

    Dips, Geelong of 2007 and the Home and Away of 2008 were something to behold. Bucks might need to watch a few of those games to learn how it should be done.

    JTH, The Hawthorn game was crucial because we had them, apart from inaccuracy. Maybe many of our young blokes dropped their heads after that and Bucks has become too defensive as a result.
    ER, I guess understanding comes when you least expect it or maybe when you stop looking for it.
    Peter F, and JB, no guarantees next week. I’ll probably get along with less than 30k others, but my expectations will be very low!
    David Z, I’m as confused as you say I am. Hopefully, 2016 will give us a clearer indication.
    Appreciate the comments all. Take care and have a great week.

  14. Did young Moore play this week ? His performance in the previous round saw him almost as hyped as his father was. Let’s hope he gets a fair go from the pundits’.


  15. Phil,
    I really enjoyed the report. Thanks.
    I must say that I admired Buckley as a player but had little time for him off-field. I am finding that I really respect him as a coach and what he is trying to do at Collingwood. He will sink or swim on the fact that he has shaped the club.
    I fear for the future of the game, but am trusting that law-changes will be implemented to sort things out. That has always been the way, whether we like it or not.

  16. I could barely stomach my dinner after that effort by Collingwood.

    The game was as drab as the weather. The 37,000 crowd sounded like 3700 for 98% of the afternoon. Football is in a bad place atm.

    I’m not so concerned about Bucks’ coaching as selection howlers that cost the Pies games against Hawthorn, Port and arguably Melbourne as well.

    Surely Karnezis is a better option than Seedsman? And expecting a 4th gamer to carry the forward line was plain dumb. And finally Scharanberg gets a run and shows more composure and finesse in his first game than anyone else in the backline.

    Clearly there is a confidence crisis and maybe a couple of the kids are getting tired. But no excuse for that display.

    Good summation Phil. My only point would be the comparison of Langdon to Morwood.
    Unfortunately Langdon’s kicking is nowhere near that of Morph’s.

    You’d almost think we’re in tanked that one…

  17. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hi Glen, young Moore did play and he tried hard, but the delivery into the forward line was abominable to say the least.
    Cheers Smokie, good to see your Roos winning the ones they should win. I have championed Bucks since 2010, but I don’t know if he has the tactical nous. Time will tell on that and the rule changes. Players are just too fit these days. Maybe less rotations and no sub might help.
    JD, do you think the Goodes issue contributed to the lack of attendance? We have unfortunate form in this area and I wonder if it still exists in some parts of the Collingwood crowd. Not sure if Karnezis can play, doesn’t have much of a second effort. I think we miss Goldsack quite a bit as he takes the pressure off Frost and seems to organise the back line well ala Maxwell. Langdon does need to hit more targets and I think he will as he grows in confidence. Certainly reads the play in Morwood-like manner.

  18. I reckon Pies 5 losses in a row, Melbourne’s poor form, ski season and the 12 degree day (felt like 12 degrees Farenheit) were the reason Phil. I’d be surprised if a single person didn’t go because of the Goodes issue.

    Karnezis racked up another 28 disposals, 8 tackles and 2 goals in the VFL yesterday. About par for him. I think our problem at the moment is first efforts, so I’d be happy to ride my luck on a bloke who actually has some skill and can play both ends of the ground.

    Agree, Goldsack is missed in the backline. Especially his kickouts, we have a backline full of shit kicks and poor decision makers (which is probably more so Langdon’s problem)..

  19. Barry McAdam says

    Accurate summary Phil. The two young ruckmen are tired. Maybe a good time to rest one and give Mason Cox a crack? And play Karnezis. I have Varcoe top 2 in Copeland, but surely Pendlebury is miles ahead??

  20. Dave Nadel says

    JD – you have obviously seen more of Karnezis’ play than I have in the VFL. I have seen most of his games in the AFL and am underwhelmed. Seedsman is inconsistent but his best is much better than PK’s efforts so far and he is far more versatile in that he can play at both ends of the field.

    I’d like to see Cox get a try in the firsts this season but I am not sure that he want his first game to be against Kreuzer who is one of Carlton’s few good players. I would prefer to see him start against Essendon who don’t seem to have any quality ruckmen since Paddy Ryder left for Port Adelaide.

  21. I reckon the Blues are due to break through. Who are they playing on Saturday?

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