Old Unwelcome Memories

Collingwood v Geelong

Grand Final 2011

By Phil Dimitriadis


Nothing ends well that starts with a Meat Loaf ‘Kiss’.  The omens were there from the beginning and I chose to ignore them.  Even as a seven year old the lyrics of ‘Hot Summer Night’: “You took the words right out of my mouth” had something that was unsavoury, yet intriguing.  In grade 2 I fantasised about a girl named Brenda. There was no sexual attraction, but something drew me to the girl who wore tight baby blue pants and barracked for North.  Her cherry red hair was something to behold. Opposites attract? Maybe, but she was a year older and when you barrack for a losing Grand Final team the chicks bail. They generally don’t want to be associated with losers.

My first conscious losing Grand Final was in 1977. After the hyperbole of the draw, I watched in horror as North took the Premiership without much resistance in the last quarter of the replay. Perhaps the tone of my life was set in those two hours. For that I have to thank the Rolling Stones: ”You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need”. After watching another Collingwood side falter in 2011, the veil between want and need  became too close to contemplate. Part of me knew that Geelong had the better form leading into the finals. After all, we did play Tom Hawkins into form in round 24. Little did we know how much that would come back to haunt us a month later.

For three quarters, the game was a classic. Geelong’s unrelenting corridor play versus the erstwhile successful boundary style of Malthouse. It was nip and tuck, touch and go, a ding dong struggle for three quarters. Yet, in the end pure footy prevailed. Geelong showed that skill, when properly executed, beats the negativity of defence every time. Geelong have been the excellence of execution for the last five years and Collingwood, despite its tall forwards, chose to continue with their “Buffalo Girls Go Round The Outside” motif. If there was ever a game when the Pies needed to take risks and use the corridor it was this one. Geelong played their card four weeks ago and we learned little.

Collingwood looked dangerous when they went forward quickly. Cloke and Krakouer were hungry for the loose ball and had six between them at three-quarter-time.  In my humble Preston abode,  the consensus was that we would be fitter and wrest away Geelong’s slight advantage and run over them in the last quarter. How wrong we were. Jimmy Bartel, Harry Taylor, Joel Selwood,   Cameron Ling and Brad Ottens dominated possession and Collingwood’s reigning Premiership team were made to look like novices. Geelong won by playing pure football, sweet and low through the middle with precision passing and swift ball movement.  It was a victory for style over substance, flair over fear and trust over structures.

My Grand Final record as a Collingwood fan, since I was born in 1969, is two wins, two draws and eight losses. Many fans would envy that record, yet there is a sense of loss and underachievement. This (2011) team has had the best facilities, money, and every other assistance that most AFL teams can dream of. Yet, another Runner Up medal is added to the recent historical albatross that signifies Collingwood’s Grand Final failures. I guess I should be grateful, if I compare my lot to Bulldogs and Saints fans. However, there is something about Collingwood which elevates the football team above any other symbolic, religious, political and anthropological pursuit in most even minded mortals. Perhaps it is about the history of having to endure Fitzroy’s excrement; maybe it is the fact that many fans have little else to cheer about; maybe it is about a need to belong to one’s roots in order to have some semblance of identity. For me, it is a combination of all. Many times I have been torn between wincing and advocating the expression of the Collingwood paramour. Yes, many Collingwood fans are tattooed, toothless, recidivists and have an unhealthy reliance on Centrelink for their subsistence. Isn’t that part of the charm and the passion? If Pie fans were well to do it would take away every other team’s reason for despising them. Regardless of how humane and egalitarian we may feel, the Collingwood fan is a task for the most dedicated civil libertarian.


There  is much hate, malevolence and bile in my guts tonight. No one but me can understand  what I feel. It is a lifetime of hope compared to a lifetime of fear and false hope condensed in the same body. My educated, objective and detached self can weave a myriad of self-sufficient reasons for our failure; one dimensional coaching; Reid and Jolly being totally unfit!

It has been the case since I saw Brenda  gleefully ignore me when she decided that her tight, baby blue pants were better off being a plaything of an older North Melbourne fan. Sometimes, you have to accept defeat. However , that doesn’t mean you like it or are willing to accept it.

Next year I welcome Nathan Buckley to the fold.  I hope that he exploits the fact that we have two gun forwards in Dawes and Cloke by going down the middle, ala Geelong. Footy isn’t that complicated. If you have the right players in the right spots you will excel. Game plans, strategies and structures mean shit if you don’t have the intelligence to execute them and the trust in your teammate to back you. Geelong did that today, Collingwood didn’t.  Bring on Buckley and hopefully, a more direct, less fearful style of play. Adieu Mick, from this fan, you will not be missed.


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. Phil – commiserations to PIe supporters. Its always a tough few days after losing a flag.

    At one stage in the third quarter, the game in the balance, the scoreboard frozen, the players throwing themselves everuwhere, Tim Lane commented, “This is excruciating!’ Yes it was. I was so entranced by the game I thought I might vomit.

    If the AFL’s designs come to fruition the Pies might play Carlton in next year’s big one. Now wouldn’t that be something.

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    You hit the nail on the head Phil- re executing skills , game plans etc.

  3. Well written Phil. High expectations make the fall more painful.
    Dawes??? I thought Jolly did well with his body work. Played injured but a real warrior who made Ottens earn it all day. Reid and Maxwell were another matter – no acceleration or jump or confidence. Didak and Davis – age and pressure catches up with all of us eventually.
    For the victors – Bartel and Selwood refused to be beaten when the Pies looked to have them on toast midway in the 2nd. Skill and strength of mind. Stokes was the other one I found interesting. Clanger after clanger, but never dropped his head. Kept working and getting possessions until they started working.
    The Divine smiled on the Cats with the injury to JPod. Geelong were wasting possession bombing it long to their talls. The big men were knocking each other over in the marking contests, with the Pies spoiling and running it out easily. The injury gave Hawkins (mea culpa, mea culpa) the space to use his athleticism and exploit Reid. Game over.
    One of the beauties of AFL is that any game plan strategy has such a short currency before the counter counter plan is developed to make it ineffective. The best argument for not tinkering with rules.
    Good umpiring too. Put the whistle away and let the players sort it. Why not the other 364 days???
    Great spectacle. Cats were brilliant. Pies made them earn it. Three quarters of the best GF I have seen and then a triumphal march. Go figure.

  4. Commiserations Phil, but what a game! Let the pain run through you for a while but don’t let it consume you.The Pies were not that far off the mark. When you have got through the ‘anger’ stage, hopefully, you will allow yourself a little more circumspection. I have no reason to like Malthouse but he has coached three Premierships and that’s pretty impressive. Including one for the Pies when so many others over the last 50 years have not been able to do so.

    Having said that, Scott did out-coach Malthouse and quite convincingly. The two coaching decisions of the game, for me, were Ling on Swan and Lonegan, first on Dawes and then onto Cloke.


  5. Rick – maybe the Hawks won the flag for the Cats by belting up the Pies last week. Thanks.

  6. Dips, it was all the Cats work. As one of the many who believed the Cats were “too old & too slow” I dips me lid to a magnificent team who have well earned the accolade of best team of the last 5 years.

    Cheers and soak it up

  7. Thanks for your commiserations guys. I guess in the context of Collingwood’s recent history Malthouse will be seen as a success. But, the numbers show he only had a 20% success rate in Grand Finals as Collingwood coach. For a club with the best resources, money and ambition this is a poor return.

    I despised the fact that he was more than willing to bask in his own glory during GF week. Couldn’t that stuff wait until after the game? It was all about the tears. Mick’s tears, Nanette’s tears, the kids, the grandkids….give me a fucking break!

  8. John Butler says

    Interested to hear you say that Phil.

    If a bluebagger held such heretical thoughts we’d be accused of sour grapes.

    A strange bird is Malthouse.

  9. JB, yes the grapes are sour and contain more than a dash of wrath at the minute. We missed out on our 16th Flag after finishing on top. Our best home and away season ever resulted in an ultimately convincing GF loss. 70,000 plus members, Arizona, Manchester United, $$$ = 1 Flag in 12 years. Not good enough.

  10. Dips,

    the Hawks won us the flag by beating us in ’08..

  11. I can’t help but think of the story of ‘The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg’ with respect to Mr Malthouse.

    I think the Pies got it wrong and their dynasty has been serverely eroded because Eddie’e eyes were bigger than his tummy.

    I empathise with you Phil. We Cats understand these things all too well.

  12. Andrew Starkie says

    Sympathies Phil.

    I also believe Mick made it all about him by constantly feeding the media speculation about his future. I think the Pies surprised themselves by winning last year and as a result, Mick decided he wanted to carry on into 2012.

    However, I think Eddie held him to the contract, which at the time was the biggest golden handshake seen in football, which forced Mick to resign. I believe Eddie is pleased to see the back of Mick and his attention seeking antics. His comment about Mick being mentally and physically exhausted was his way of putting the boot into Mick.

  13. John Sandy says

    Phil, I am a couple of years younger than you so i have only witnessed 6 GF loses, I was too young to go to ’77. I don’t like to include the draws in stats as most people treat them like loses, eg Moore, Shaw, Picken etc played in 5 GFs without winning one.
    The hurts like hell, going into the match i hoped we would win more than expected to win. An amazing thought but after going 20-2 we just weren’t at our best going into that game. Whilst it doesn’t make it easier, we really did hang on for 3 quarters with about half a dozen players (mybe a few more) keeping us in it. I don’t think the Malthouse fiasco helped one bit, whether he would like to hear it or not he really wasn’t there, he didn’t make one move.
    Whilst it was gut wrenching and left me in a state of shock somehow that fact that we lost by 6 goals made it easier than some others eg ’79 and ’02 where every single thing can be analysed to find the exta goal/s.
    Whilst i am not normally this rational (8 days have past) times like this we need to stick side by side and remember the premierships that we have seen, hopefully we can build on 2.

Leave a Comment