AFL Round 6 – Collingwood v Essendon (Floreat Pica Society): Pies pip Dons in Anzac Day #20 classic

written by Dave Nadel for the Floreat Pica Society


The AFL actually made very little mention of the fact that this was the twentieth Anzac Day match between Collingwood and Essendon. Perhaps they are saving their breath for next year when it will be the hundredth anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. One hopes that neither the AFL nor the Armed Forces will blur the distinction between football and remembrance as I believe Mick and Sheeds did on several occasions. As Bucks has said several times this week, it is a football match, not a battle.


That said, Friday’s game was a pretty extraordinary football match. The usual cliché is to call a match a game of two halves. In this case it was a game of one quarter and three quarters. The first quarter was horrible. Or to be more accurate, The Pies were horrible in the first quarter. Almost all players were being beaten to the ball by the faster, more aggressive Dons. When the Pies won the ball they turned it over by poor kicking or slow responses so that they were caught in tackles. Kicking for goal was hopeless – we had only three points on the board at the end of the quarter. I thought that I might have trouble finding three players to give Horsburgh votes. Only Sidebottom, Pendles, Beams and Ball had had much of the ball and Pendles and Beams were not disposing of it with their usual aplomb.


The Bombers scored their sixth goal a minute or so after the start of the second term and then suddenly the game changed. Collingwood’s pressure slowed Essendon to a walk while our midfield took over – completely. Essendon did not kick another goal (and very few points) until early in the last quarter. Almost every Collingwood player contributed to the dominance of the Pies. Even Cloke, who was not having a good game (again), kicked a great goal on the run in the second quarter. At least I thought it was a great goal. The video umpire thought it was touched off the boot and it was ruled to be a point. It didn’t affect the outcome but it probably didn’t do Travis’s fragile confidence much good. The sad thing here is that with the emergence of Jesse White, who scored two goals and drew defenders away from Cloke, Travis is finally getting support on the forward line but is not making full use of it.


After Paddy Ryder had absolutely dominated the ruck in the first quarter, Witts and Grundy took over for the rest of the match, both in the tap outs and around the ground. Grundy took a couple of fine marks, Witts created options for the small forwards. The defenders were destroying Essendon’s forwards. Jack Frost icing Joe Daniher (sorry about the pun), while Lachie Keeffe dominated the backline and his almost immobile opponent Carlisle. Langdon, Toovey and Fasolo (until injured) also beat their opponents. When I first saw Paul Chapman lining up on the forward line I thought of the occasions he had cut the Pies to pieces in blue and white. But the Cats knew what they were doing when they cleared him. The 2014 Red and Black version of Chappy is a lot less scary than the Chappy of old.


In the second half Swan put on a gala performance with a couple of particularly spectacular goals. I am not going to do them justice in this report. You can find them on the AFL website, the Collingwood website and probably on YouTube as well. Pendlebury, Beams and the rest of the midfield continued to dominate.  “Billy” Elliott scored a good goal in the last quarter. Actually Billy has goaled for us in the last quarter for the last few games. He’s a good man to have in at the death.


There was a short flurry by the Same Olds in the last quarter. It lasted two goals and the Maggies’ dominance was never really threatened. By the end of the game my spirits and those of my fellow Collingwood supporters in the Ponsford had soared. If we beat Carlton next week then we will approach the bye with five wins out of seven. Even if the unthinkable were to happen we will have four wins out of seven. At the start of the season most of the pundits had us winning two or three.


At the end of the match I was somewhat surprised to hear that Swannie was to be awarded the Anzac medal. His second half was truly spectacular but (apart from one goal) he barely touched the ball in the first half. I have since learned from the AFL website that all three judges of the Anzac gave Dane three votes. I have also heard Mark Maclure argue that Swan was best on the ground on the ABC the next day and I am still not convinced. I think that players who win match day awards like the Anzac Medal or the Norm Smith medal should star for the majority of the game. Accordingly my Horsburgh votes are also a comment on who I think should have won the Anzac Medal


3 votes Steele Sidebottom. Apart from perhaps ten minutes in the last quarter when Zaharakis got away from a little, Steelo played well all day, even when his team mates were playing poorly in the first quarter. He was ubiquitous, one moment he would be stopping an attack on the backline, the next he was scoring a goal. He is a terrific competitor.


2 votes Dane Swan Well, yes, his second half was magnificent.


1 vote Tom Langdon I hope that Pendles doesn’t lose the Horsburgh by one vote because he probably was our third best player but I wanted to record my admiration for young Tom Langdon. It took him two drafts to get selected for the AFL and he wasn’t a particularly high pick for us, but he has played every game this season. He wouldn’t have even played one game yet if it hadn’t been for injuries to Seedsman, Sinclair and Scharenberg not to mention Marley’s troubles. In only his sixth game he had 22 possessions and was clearly our most valuable smaller defender. He isn’t Heath Shaw’s replacement yet, but he could be.


Honourable mentions that I wish I could give votes. Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams, Brent Macaffer who destroyed Jobe Watson, Tyson Goldsack (10 tackles!) and Lachie Keefe.

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