Pies Dominate: Civilisation Teeters on the Brink

Forget Global Warming. Forget Nuclear Disarmament. Forget Peak Oil.

Collingwood have beaten the Cats to become red hot flag favourites. This is getting really serious.

Forget Malthusian concerns over population, it’s the potential impact of Malthousian theory that should be occupying minds on the campaign trail.

You want a law and order problem? Unleash a Magpie premiership celebration.

An environmental crisis? Consider the Amazonian rainforests which will be felled to enable the Herald Sun to print all those supplements to supplements over the next few weeks.

Worried about the state of democracy? Consider the Orwellian impact ubiquitous images of Beloved Leader Eddie could have on the public psyche. The endless hours of talkback radio devoted to paeans to the Pie.

The Horror! The Horror!

We need to set aside our anxiety for a moment, and consider the events which led us to this parlous state.

The broad on-field challenge confronting Collingwood this season was how to improve against teams that had previously been superior at winning the ball, and keeping it when they had it- namely Geelong and St Kilda, based on 2009 form.

Tactically, the Magpies needed a better response to their opponents’ through-the-corridor attack, whilst giving their own wing-hugging style more cut-through.

As the opening moments of this game saw Ablett win the ball and head straight through the centre, only for Maxwell to rebound and go straight to the wing, the script seemed to be in place.

What wouldn’t have been in the Geelong script was their lack of presence across half forward, or the absence of much run from behind to enable their patented flick the ball around style to flow. This saw them kicking speculatively into half forward, usually to little effect. The Magpie defence lapped this up, and the likes of O’Brien, Maxwell and Goldsack rebounded to their hearts’ content.

The Magpie defence likes it best when they can peel off direct opponents with confidence and use their closing speed to seize the initiative. With such easy defensive rebound on offer, Collingwood dominated the inside 50 count almost 3 to 1 in the opening 45 minutes and built a lead that stretched to 28 points. It should have been more, as they dominated contested possession and the general tempo of the game.

Just as a blow-out appeared a chance, Geelong reminded everyone why they’ve been so successful in recent years. Gaining control of stoppages, they showed that change of gear they’ve become noted for and launched an incisive counter attack. Having only looked consistently dangerous from kick-ins to this stage, all the familiar Geelong faces suddenly sprang to life and the lead was snatched on the half-time siren.

Sparked by a brilliant Chappy snappy, the comeback was based on Ablett’s creativity, Selwood’s pack work, Stevie J and Stokes up forward, and Varcoe’s increasing ability to break lines.

Having dominated in most respects, Malthouse would have been vexed not to lead at the main break.

If Collingwood was shaken, they weren’t stirred. As the third term commenced, Wellingham, Didak and Thomas continued to find space, and Macaffer provided a reliable forward outlet. They continued to play most of the game in their forward half, but remained wasteful in front of goal.

Taking advantage of this, the Cats had snuck a couple of goals ahead. When the Cat forwards could work the Magpie defenders under the ball, then run back with the flight, Collingwood seemed at its most uncomfortable.

This lead was in spite of one of the poorest goal-umpiring mistakes you’ll ever see. Having been rarely sighted, Byrnes ran onto a kick in the goal square and clearly poked it through. Just how it was adjudicated that he had crossed the line before making contact will probably remain a mystery even to the umpire concerned.

If ever Collingwood’s resolve was facing a challenge it was now, with so much general play domination still producing a scoreboard deficit. It has to be said their resolve stood the test.

When Cloke finally managed a goal from further out than the goal-line, the scores were levelled. The Magpies kept doing what they’d been doing, and it was Geelong who started to look shaky down back with some sloppy clearances. Thomas and Beams goaled to give Collingwood the lead and they were not to be headed again.

The final quarter was largely a romp for Didak, Wellingham and many of their teammates. Only Geelong’s reputation, and the Pies’ continued forward wastefulness, kept any prospect of a comeback alive.

This isn’t the first time this season the Cats have faded in the second half of contests. They won’t be liking the trend.

A few caveats. The Cats obviously gambled on a ruck combination of the yet to be fully match-fit Ottens and the Tomahawk, who seldom looks fully fit. Young Mr Hawkins has had his moments in an injury interrupted career, but tonight he reminded everyone that when he’s bad, he can be very very bad.

Mark Blake’s finals prospects suffered no damage tonight.

It would also be a surprise if Didak and co were afforded the same time and space come the finals.

Geelong showed they can still strike a blow, but they’ll need their key forwards to give a better showing in September. The J Pod has made for a great story, but his successes have largely been restricted to the confines of Kardinia Park.

Only the foolhardy would count the Cats out yet. They’ve shown before they can get it right when needed. But their past reputation is not a future guarantee.

It’s time to give Collingwood their due. They could have won this game by a mile. Only their continued dodgy forward conversion prevented them from doing so.  They are imposing their style on opponents with a telling mix of across the ground pressure, defensive rebound and a spread of goal scorers. If Grand Finals were played in August you’d have to back them.

But Grand Finals are played at the end of September (at least this year). This gives the rest of us time to prepare for the worst. You suspect a surge in demand for bomb shelters and refuges, a spike in the purchase of canned goods, and an increase in visitors from Montana offering advice on survivalist skills.

Of course, it is possible society as we know it will survive a Collingwood flag.

But if you happen to see Four Horsemen riding down the road, be ready to duck and cover.

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Good analysis John.

    First comment is that I don’t think the Pies will get as many goals from turnovers if, and that is a definite if, they play each other again.

    Second is regarding the consequences of a Collingwood premiership.

    I am not sure what that would be but the ‘sick puppy’ in me has often wondered what would happen if Scotland ever won the World Cup.

    I assume you get my drift.


  2. Peter Flynn says

    G’day JB,

    I reckon last night saw the beginning of the changing of the guard.

    Collingwood were superb without the football and pretty damn good with it. Geelong’s remarkable quickfire counter-attacks stopped the margin stretching out to 10 goals.

    Collingwood need to hold their form and suffer no major injuries. They are clear flag favourites and deservedly so.

    The Shannon Byrnes decision was so poor as to be laughable.

    I spent the after-match on the fizz at the Westpac Centre. Extraordinary.

    On a digression, the AFL has made positive contributions towards racism and respect for women. They could also make a really meaningful contribution towards bullying in schools and society in general.
    Hang on a minute. Demetriou can’t be a part of that can he?

  3. Very sound analysis JB. The Cats battle weary heros may be justy that; battle weary.

    By the way if the Pies win the flag, do not whatever you do, do not, and I mean NOT, for chrissakes, DO NOT go anywhere near a train travelling on the Hurstbridge or Epping lines.


  4. John Butler says

    Phantom, you obviously have a taste for danger.

    PF, Demetriou made himself look ridiculous with that rubbish about the ‘G.

    Dips, the Epping line is not for the faint-hearted at any time.

    Cheers guys

  5. Come on JB!
    it won’t be as bad as you think.
    Im only thinking of decorating my car with flags, streamers and ballons (hopefully you can still see my L-plates) Pumping up the Collingwood theme song with the windows open, beeping and squealing while driving up and down my street which happens to be a main road. lol

    thats all, see no harm done :P

  6. John Butler says


    That would still most likely leave you in the quieter part of the demographic. :)

    Would you have an Alsatian with a bobbing head on the dashboard? Or just the traditional fluffy dice?

  7. 6- FLUFFY DICE? nahhh
    im WAYY cooler than that, think mini disco ball :P

  8. John Butler says


    Astute choice.

  9. First of all, Sorry to Danni for stealing comment 9, I know she likes getting comment 9.

    Secondly, and more importantly, JB you have summed up my feelings about the prospect of a Pie premiership extremely well. Even though you’re a Blue, I’m a Tiger and we’re not exactly the most mutually friendly teams, it is time to unite against the common enemy.


  10. Better than Saints

  11. Very nice work John Butler.

    That is all

  12. David Latham says

    Don’t worry about trying to leave the state either, we ‘re instituting our own border protection policy – keeping all opposition supporters within Victoria.

    Sentinels will be posted at all airports, and checkpoints set up on all arteries out of Victoria. And don’t even think you Carlton and Melbourne supporters of escaping in your hot-air balloons. We’ve bought up all gas supplies and have snipers on roof-tops.

    Being the team of the proletariat helps as well. All aircraft mechanics have been instructed to maintain their ban on private jet maintenance.

    Anyone who attempts to build a bomb-shelter will either have their shelter torn up by bulldozers, or alternatively, if you live in Toorak we’ll eat all your sturgeon and wait for you to come out after eating your last can of baked beans.

    You will all be forced to listen to the club song after the revolution and what’s more to salute it.

  13. John Butler says

    Sounds a bit like Guantanamo Dave. :)

  14. David Latham says

    No, a Homage to Collingwoodonia, but this time the good guys win.

  15. John Butler says

    Pies as the good guys eh?

    Time to insert cliche about black & white perspectives?

  16. Dave,

    for fear of appearing to be stalking I note your bright demeanor and the zealousness with which you are going about your work this week.

    In good Orwellian style I prefer to refer to it as “Hate Week”.

    As a form of attitude re-adjuustment by Big Brother I have been seconded to the Ministry of Truth this week. But, in defiance and risking a visit to Room 101 I am not putting the bits of paper down the tube before secondary processing.

    The whirring click click click you hear in the background is the sound of the Phantom photo copier.

    My files will be revisited during the late September spring clean.


  17. David Latham says

    Thanks Phantom, I’m also adding extensive notes to my files.

  18. Thought you would be. I recognise the ring tone.

  19. Phantom – wonder where all the Pie supporters went who wanted Malthouse sacked a few months back for his “Buffalo Girls” style of footy? All of a sudden the around the boundary style is the rage, Malthouse is a genius, and Eddie’s got a facial erection.

  20. Andrew Fithall says

    Dips (#19) – that was the non-Collingwood people taking such joy in their buffalo girls joke. Others, like me, are concerned that the best coach in the competition will be involuntarily losing his job at the end of next year.

    By the way, I hope Joel Selwood’s knee problem is rectified – you know the one: whenever he is tackled legitimately, his knees buckle so the tackle slips upwards and he gets a free kick.

    I am a bit worried about Peter Flynn. One week he is at the Carringbush Hotel with the FP society. The next week he is celebrating with the Collingwood faithful at the Lexus Westpac Centre. Actually – I am not worried, I am welcoming. Others are also welcome to join the bandwagon.

  21. David Latham says

    #20 Selwoods knees get very weak at the contest dont they. Haven’t seen that many ducks since Chapelli’s run.

    I think we need to give him a nickname, and I like this one I’ve heard bandied about ‘the turtle’.

  22. Peter Flynn says


    It was an experience!


  23. David Downer says


    Malthusian / Malthousian …magnificent!


  24. Dips #19,

    those dang Collingwood supporters are lining up in droves to go toe to toe with me over this blog. I have appreciated your support (and Suzie’s)

    Come to think of it, Medhurst’ (another ring in) comment at the end of last season “I wish we were alowed to play with the freedom of Geelong” may well have been heard after all.

    The turtle may well duck and weave a bit but anyone would if they got belted around the head as often as he does.

    If my calculations are correct in his AFL infancy he has played in more premierships than the entire Collingwood team (including expensive Sydney blow ins)

    Better to be a turtle than an ostrich.

    Andrew #20, …’best coach in the competition’…

    Bomber isn’t being kicked out he just wants a break. The air is very thin at the top of Everest, especially for protracted periods, and he needs to slip down to base camp with Mick et al for a bit of R & R.

    And me (new) old sparring partner Dave #21,

    there will be plenty of pies ‘ducking’ for cover in about seven weeks. You will need an abacus to count them all.

    Don’t you just love footy; especially at finals time.

    Go Cats.

  25. David Latham says

    Everest you say? Admittedly it looked like Ling was trying to climb it as he sucked air in hard chasing Pendlebury’s youthful tail. Takes a fair effort to pump those chubby little legs I imagine.

  26. 24- ahh nice work Phantom quoting Medders!! :) thats why you’re cool!

    25- LOL!!!

  27. Pamela Sherpa says

    Don’t know why everybody is panicking. There are still weeks to go and The Pies probably aren’t going to improve much on their form now,

  28. John Butler says

    A voice of sanity Pamela. Much needed. :)

  29. Dave Latham says

    And also don’t forget that the Pies haven’t beaten anyone above them on the ladder.

  30. John Butler says

    But Dave, their past issues in Grand Finals have involved beating teams below them.

  31. Dave Latham says

    Yeah, couldn’t win a GF after 63. Losing in 67, 89, 92, 94 & 95 is tough. In the wilderness for 44 years.

  32. John Butler says

    Those Geelong folk have had their compensation recently though.

    You obviously believe it’s the time of the Pie.

  33. Dave Latham says

    Absolutely. We’re in a different era now – what happened in the late 70s / early 80s is as relevant to us as was the Cats prior GF history, or for that matter the Swans, Saints and Bulldogs – all of whom have had to wait longer for the prize and have their own finals demons.

  34. Dave, well done for flying the Pies flag with a bit (read: substantially) more substance to your remarks than “COLLINGWOOD ARE THE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL, ALL OTHERS SUCK!” as many of your fellow, non-almanacking pies supporters do.

    Honest question though: Geelong didn’t perform anywhere near their best for most of the game (credit in part to the Pies’ pressure, but also to an implosion of sorts). Everyone knows Geelong has much more to give, if they choose to. Do the Pies have any more to offer? Or did we see everything, including the kitchen sink, on the weekend?

  35. 34- Well Susie, there is still the en-suite to see and if you open the left door of the fridge you will also find a chocolate cake and a dozen bottles of Lemon ice-tea.

  36. You didn’t manage to get your hands on any of those runners up medals that Peter Moore threw away, did you Dave.

    They are an integral part of the protracted list of Pie famous dummy spits.

    One of them would be a must for you along side this year’s winners one to illustrate the Yin and Yang of the ‘Eddie’s Thiefdom’.

    Sorry about the typo; I meant feifdom. How could I make such a mistake.

  37. What all the Collingwood numb skulls are failing to realise is that it took your team of tattooed hacks 60 plus inside 50s to beat Geelong by a mere 22 points. How inefficient is that?

    If Byrnes’ goal was rightfully paid, if Beams’ snap in the third was rightfully disallowed (it went so wide it hit a fence in the carpark) there is no question that the Cats would have won. No question at all; and we would have won it with just 37 inside 50s – supremely efficient.

    So continue to paint your arms with ancient symbols of stupidity, continue to worship a President who may well sack your most successful coach in the last 20 years, and continue to gloat like toad fish on a feeding frenzy, because its all going to gloriously come crashing down.

    Ahhhh, that feels a lot better.

  38. John Butler says

    So it appears the Geelong faithful are perfectly relaxed about the result?

  39. David Downer says

    Wow-eeeee …a Geelong loss certainly does wonders for the Almanac airwaves!

  40. DD – that and a Collingwood win which cements minor premiership.

    Will certainly be an interesting finals series. Hope GFC, CFC, WB and St KFC all perform to the best of their abilities. Let’s take luck and circumstances out of this, may the true best team win (eager to find out who it is!).

  41. Apparently so John.

    We may have to arrange a meeting between Dave L and ‘Chairman Rudd’ so he can get some Mandarin lessons.

    The hole he is digging is getting so deep he is likely to pop out in China any time soon.

  42. Dave Latham says

    “So it appears the Geelong faithful are perfectly relaxed about the result?” JB

    Yes, perfectly comfortable in their skins. Not spluttering or quasi hysterical at all.



  43. Dave Latham says

    On a serious note, while the Pies dominance in every facet of the game was not reflected on the scoreboard, it should improve, but who knows.

    Let’s not forget Geelong have plenty of upside.

    The Ponds Institute are doing marvellous things to fight the 7 signs of ageing, and apparently a time machine is theoretically plausible.

    I expect Ling, Scarlett, Milburn and Chappy to tune-up their zimmer frames.

    Unfortunately a potatoe varnishing machine has not yet been invented, so Hawkins, Lonergan, Blake and Moondog will have to remain regular spuds.

  44. Oh good morning Dave, I thought you had slept in for a while there.

    Top of the day to you from all of us miserably maligned and misunderstood moggies.

  45. Further Dave, was it George Bush who had trouble spelling potato?

    You’re in good company there.

  46. Speaking of ‘Time Machines’ did you hear the one about Doctor Who?

    Apparently he landed in 2110, in Melbourne and said to the first person he met “has Collingwood won another flag yet?”

  47. John Butler says

    Phantom #45, that was Dan Quayle.

  48. Sorry John,

    I have been under enormous pressure since Saturday night.

    I was confused because both he and dubblya are intellectual giants. Guilt by association.

    He can’t even spell his own name correctly.

    But good ole Dan isn’t a bad shot with the old blunderbuss by all accounts.

  49. Dave Latham says

    When I think potato and Geelong I think plural and was ready to add an s to the end. My mistake.

    I understand that when the Doctor was referring to another Pies flag, he was referring to their 51st Cup. “Won another one since 2107?

  50. So Dave,

    that’s a clever bit of hedging you’ve set up there.

    In September you will be able to say ‘we choked on the old stale chips?’

  51. Dave Latham says

    No, it’s more the case that a steady diet of spuds down at The Catery clogged up your arteries.

    By the hue of Lings face, he can’t afford to get any more stodgy, or he’ll end up looking like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka.

  52. Where is John Harms ? Has anyone heard or seen him since Saturday night.

    Maybe he is in hiding.

  53. Your might be onto something there Dave.

    A lot of the Cats, especially Lingy, spend their free time down on the coast catching waves. The winter swell has possibly caused them to ingest a fair bit of salt – hardens the arteries.

    Could be a lot safer preening your self in front of a mirror 5 days a week down at the local tattoo parlour.

  54. Dave Latham says

    Cats seem to spend an inordinate amount of time getting their hair trimmed at the barbers.

    But bald pates can only shave off so much wind resistance.

  55. That’s about a dozen times you have come second in the rhetoric banter in two days Dave. You are playing catch up football.

    I acknowledge you are a relatively inexperienced player at this level and a little over awed with the big occasion.

    Your tenacity and willingness to make each contest in front of a big crowd is admirable but your skills and originality stats are letting you and your team down.

    Speaking of the rest of your team it looks like their experience has made them wise and they have gone to ground.

    If you want to play in the big game you have to expect a few knocks and just work harder. Thats what finals footy is all about.

    Lets hope, for your sake, the Pies don’t get infected.

  56. Dave Latham says

    Are those salty beads of sweat I taste, or tears born of frustration.

    Everything is calm down at The Catery.

  57. Clearsighted says

    Ahh, Collingwood, Collingwood, Collingwood – the diva of the AFL. They get all the perks: more free kicks than any other team, more games at the MCG, the least number of trips interstate AND, an interesting stat, that in 15 out of 22 home and way games, the team that they play is an interstate team or, is a team who played interstate the week before, or has had a six day break. In some cases a combination of the latter two. What an Eddifice of a fixture! They ought to be on top of the ladder (boring boundary game style aside) given all the help they appear to get.
    Have been to their games; their supporters all puffed up with thier curious matyr/victim energy (despite the team’s diva status – or perhaps because of it) and watched them turn on their own like yellow dogs. Must be tough playing for Collingwood. The supporters’ relationship with the team seems to be an abusive one.
    Has anyone noticed how Collingwood make a practice of shepherding the oppsition player standing the mark? Or does it go unnoticed due to Mick’s smokey spin?

  58. I noticed clear-sighted! I noticed! I thought the man standing the mark was sacrosant. The AFL need to crack down on this.

  59. Clearnsighted*

  60. Andrew Fithall says

    #57 and #58

    The practice I think was started by Harry O’Brien, and has now been copied within Collingwood and by other teams. It is a legal practice. As stated in the laws of the game:

    16.1.2 Protected Area
    The Protected Area is a corridor which extends from 5 metres
    either side of the mark to 5 metres either side of, and a 5-metre
    radius behind, the Player with the football, as illustrated in
    Diagram 2. No Player shall enter and remain in the Protected
    Area unless the field Umpire calls “Play On” or the Player is
    accompanying or following within 5 metres of his or her opponent.

    Basically – using the above definition – the protected area does not extend any distance at all behind the player on the mark. There is a diagram in the laws book which shows this quite clearly. So the shepherding player just has to position themselves just behind the mark and they can be as close as they like.

  61. Dave Latham says

    #57 cataractsighted.

    More free kicks, please provide me the linky.

    Interstate games? We love them, rarely ever lose them. Please give us more. Unfortunately we draw the biggest crowds so have to play a lot at the G to help keep clubs like Melbounre liquid – giving them the QB gate receipts.

    The revenue we pull in through tele provides the AFL with plenty of largesse. If you don’t want any, let your club know, stat.

    As for the 2010 fixture, we’ve played Saints twice, Cats twice, Dogs twice and will play Hawks twice.

    I’m happy to compare your club, if you name it, with the Pies on any measure.

  62. Clearsighted says

    My Point, AF, is that they break that rule.
    DL. Collingwood hardly ever travel and on average OUGHT to do better interstate. But then, there was Brisbane this year…Guess that’s why Collingwood don’t have an away guernsey – because they rarely play away.
    See my original comment re. Mick’s spin, in relationship to who Collingwood play twice.
    You do seem a tad defensive about it all. Are we supposed to feel thankful that the Collingwood cheer squad breed?

  63. Andrew Fithall says

    Clearsighted. They do not break the rule. I have provided the rule according to the Laws rulebook and stated how Collinwood players are playing within the rule. If they need to change the rule to combat what is a lawful strategy, then they can do so between seasons. Meanwhile, Collingwood, coming off a 6 day break) has to prepare for their game against Essendon (coming off a 7 day break). Apparently that is significant. Personally, I think it is a situation that occurs freqently thoughout the season. But then, I also believe that man has genuinely been to the moon.

  64. But Andrew, surely integrity comes into this? Yes, it may be within the rules, but what about the players’ code? I’m sure there’s no rule outlawing spitting in someone’s eye, but out of common decency, players don’t do it. It’s about image: do you want to be an honest, fair team? Or do you want to exploit loopholes?

  65. Clearsighted says

    AF: a six day break on their home ground. Tough. And a rare thing.
    Susie: Well said.

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