Resounding end to an eerie week

Collingwood v St Kilda

Grand Final Replay

It’s been an eerie week. Ever since that final siren sounded last Saturday, plans were thrown in the air, weddings were postponed, holidays were cancelled, and more money was spent on a Grand Final ticket. It was the first Grand Final draw I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I’ve never quite felt something like it. Last Saturday was such a good game, it didn’t feel right to replay it, but we needed a team to give the premiership cup to. After full time last week, I was strongly against the extra-time rule a lot of people were pushing. It isn’t in the spirit of our game if a match like last week’s is decided thanks to an extra 5 or 10 minutes. Last weekend’s Grand Final needed a whole new day to be played on, it needed a winner on the final siren, not the final siren of extra-time. Chuck in the news of James “I’m not going to coach Essendon in the near future” Hird announcing that he would coach the Bombers for 2011 onwards, Mark Thompson half-resigning from his position as Geelong coach and the little champion/traitor/money-chaser (whatever you want to call him) finally making up his mind that he would go to the Gold Coast to start a career at his second AFL club. I hope he packs a LOT of sunscreen for that bald head. Yes, it has been an eerie week.

And it was still an eerie feeling Saturday morning, the first Saturday in October. And what a day it was. It was already up to 20 degrees at 11:00 in the morning, so I took the paper outside to the backyard, found a nice green patch not littered with sunflowers and stretched out. I almost dozed off, which wouldn’t have been good, I would’ve missed the whole game. I go back inside, and lay on the couch, awaiting the start of the game. I soon noticed in horror that I was wearing a black and white shirt, and as I went to take it off, I decided to leave it on. Perhaps this would jinx Collingwood? All week, my focus had been on James Hird and Gary Ablett, plus the small trade mumblings here and there, and it wasn’t until late Friday afternoon that I realised there was indeed a game on the next day, a Grand Final. I was already trying to live my life without footy (known as hibernation) before realizing I had one more game to watch, one more match to savour.

Lionel Richie got the crowd dancing on the ceiling, and I must say, for pre-match entertainment that was organized in less than a week, the AFL really pulled it off. I still would’ve liked to have seen the lesser lights in AFL that retired this season to be driven around the ground. Soon, St Kilda ran out on the ground, followed by the enigma wrapped in determination, guts and skill that is Collingwood. A wave of sound hit them as they graced the MCG turf, ready for war. Again.

It truly seemed like a replay too. Same umpires, same uniform, same weather, and same first 20 seconds. Collingwood won the ball forward quickly and Travis Cloke marked, 10m out directly in front. You knew it was going to be a tough, scraggy day like last week, and this was evident with Zac Dawson already off the ground receiving bandages to his head for a gash. As Cloke lined up for the best way to silence his critics, the umpires whistle blew, and the ball was in St Kilda’s hands. Dane Swan infringed on a Saints player, and instead of the ball going over the goal umpires head, it went back the opposite way. It wasn’t long until Collingwood were on the board however, as they moved the ball down the field with expert precision and patience. A pet hate of mine is how players can sneak onto the ground and remain without an opponent. This is what happened, Tyson Goldsack, replacing out-of-favour forward Leon Davis, ran onto the field from the bench, snuck forward and marked uncontested. Surely the St Kilda bench staff would’ve seen him sprint past, and surely someone wearing the tri-colours on the field would’ve noticed him. Goldsack slotted the first goal of the Grand Final, which would’ve paid heavy cash, and it wasn’t long before Ben Johnson marked uncontested just inside 50. St Kilda were clearly not with it early in the game, they seem frazzled by the warm weather and the scintillating pressure applied by Collingwood. They just couldn’t land a kick or handball. I’m quite certain they only went inside 50 once in the first nine minutes. Johnson easily put it through the middle from beyond the 50m arc, before St Kilda finally managed to get on the board. After Adam Schneider got away from Heath Shaw, he kicked long to the tip of the goalsquare, where the eyes of every person with red, white and black in their veins lit up. Nick Riewoldt was all on his own. The MCG staff have a lot of work to do to fix the massive hole that must’ve swallowed up Nathan Brown, as Riewoldt marked uncontested, turned, and was about to bomb the ball into the stands.

To this point, it may be known by some people that I was barracking for St Kilda. I was fully with them last week, and again cheered them on for the replay. That was until Riewoldt played on from his mark, and turned around to see only the goal umpire staring at him. It was just him and the goal umpire, but as he guided the ball to his boot, something in black and white came out of nowhere. Lunging at the ball, outstretched, was Shaw, knocking the ball from Riewoldt’s boot, and big Nick could only watch on in amazement and utter confusion as he swung his leg up to find he didn’t even connect with the ball. It was rushed through for a behind, the Black and White Army (BWA) roared, even some of Shaw’s teammates looked on in disbelief. Collingwood continued with the game, St Kilda stagnated. Brent Macaffer gathered the ball just outside the goal square in a massive scramble, and managed to swing his leg high enough to kick the ball over his head, through for a goal. What a start by Collingwood. I was with them now, every step of the way onwards.

The Sam Gilbert transfer went into immediate action at the start of the second quarter, and it paid off, but not as largely as St Kilda would’ve liked. Gilbert missed two early shots at goal, one to the right, then one to the right. Collingwood’s run from defence was ripping the Saints to shreds, and a handball receive from Cloke saw Alan Didak run into an open goal. Gilbert missed another shot at goal, and the Gilbert move was starting to hinder the Saints, even though they controlled much of the play during the quarter. Nick Riewoldt got a rare touch and bombed it inside 50, towards the Brendon Goddard territory, and all of the St Kilda faithful wished that they would see him once again fly up in a big pack of players and haul in a screamer. It didn’t come however, but the next best thing happened. Goddard was given the free kick, and he dobbed it, giving his side their first goal of the entire match. But it’s simple, when you don’t kick your first goal until midway through the second quarter; you are most likely going to lose. Brett Peake should consider ripping up his St Kilda contract and packing his bags, because some of his mistakes were terrible, utterly atrocious. His kick across Collingwood’s attacking 50, intended for Ben McEvoy, missed him by almost five metres, and he even managed to get the bounce to go Collingwood’s way, with Darren Jolly running onto it and passing to Macaffer, who waltzed in for the easiest of goals, and there was no St Kilda player to rush in and smother the ball. No desperation. Jolly’s desperation for the ball was clear for everyone to see, especially McEvoy, and he was again forced to watch on as Jolly lead for the ball, only for it to go the completely wrong side of him. Not to be denied though, Jolly thrust himself to his right while sliding to the left, and hauled in the mark, before thumping through the goal, and Melbourne was bracing itself for a black and white onslaught on the streets for the next four or five months.

At half time, I went into the kitchen to make some jaffles for the first time without Mum’s help. Big mistake. It ended up a mess, so I was forced to clean the kitchen table, before getting Mum to make them for me as I quickly hurried back into my room to see Adam Schneider hit the post within the first 15 seconds. It was good play from St Kilda, and showed that perhaps they could keep fighting and fighting until they broke the Collingwood barrier like they did last week. The Magpies quickly snuffed out any hope of this happening however, Chris Dawes hacking the ball out of mid-air from near the goalsquare for a freakish goal, before Sharrod Wellingham gathered the ball at a stoppage and without losing any pace, got around a St Kilda player before booting the goal, the margin was out to 40 points. Game over?

Dane Swan gathered the crumbs and snapped his first, and it seemed the premiership cup was going to be draped in black and white streamers. A bit of a scuffle erupted on the wing, but without getting involved, Riewoldt ran away with the ball and kicked into the nearly-vacant forward 50, finding Justin Koschitzke. Kosi kept a cool head and slotted the goal, and the faintest bit of hope remained. The hope of a Didak shimmy raised, after Jason Blake tried to clear the ball out of defence only for Didak to smother, before following up in the forward pocket, snapping the ball with his right foot and watching it curl beautifully through the big sticks, and his toes started dancing, much to the delight of the BWA. Lenny Hayes, outstandingly ferocious on the ball last week, was having a quieter game and was showing signs of cracking under the close attention Collingwood were giving him, but he managed to be the last link of the chain in a forward movement, kicking a goal on the outside of his boot from 15m out.

Every Grand Final, there’s a certain play that is replayed time and time again, looked up on YouTube, remembered for the famous commentary. This was it for the 2010 Grand Final pt 2. With the ball being kicked into St Kilda’s forward line by Farren Heit Ray, Dale Thomas threw himself in front of the oncoming ball, punching it away to the advantage of Macaffer, who kicked to the wing. Dawson was in position A, while Dawes was lumbering at position E. But Dawes kept coming, and instead of attacking the mid-air football, Dawson watched and waited. That was all it took. Dawes barreled into Dawson, grabbing the ball cleanly and handballing off to Scott Pendlebury, who booted it long to a vacant forward 50, and Steele Sidebottom ran onto the loose ball, marking it. The boy from Congupna nailed the goal, and it was only a short time before the feared ‘COLLINGWOOD’ chant would be in full voice. Gilbert took a good mark in the sunlight and avoided kicking his fourth behind, splitting the middle to reduce the already-huge three quarter time deficit St Kilda needed to breach.

41 points down going into the last quarter, there was the faintest of hopes. The hopes were dashed in the matter of a couple of minutes, with Dawes marking in the forward pocket before gently guiding through his second on the tough angle. Dawes was involved again, gathering the ball just outside the goalsquare, before spotting Thomas about 5m out. He handballed to Daisy, and with four Saints around him, he had the composure to dummy around one of them before quickly grubbering through his first of the day, and didn’t he celebrate? Eddie McGuire was seen in the crowd embracing with his children and tears running down his face, it was a sweet moment captured by Channel 7, but I must say I saw some of 7’s old, dirty habits come to the fore during the game. I think they went to an ad break every goal during the game. Every goal. Not good enough, not for a Grand Final.

Nick Dal Santo kicked a long bomb from outside 50 that bounced through with no one near the goals, then it was Harry’s turn. After marking on the wing, he got a 50m penalty against Dawson and marched up to half forward. Something I didn’t like was how O’Brien got into Dawson’s face about it. Give the kid a break, he had performed admirably on Cloke and made a mistake that would probably cost his side a goal, he didn’t need to know all about it. O’Brien was able to deliver on his boastings however, drilling a long goal from outside 50, and giving one of the best celebrations seen in Grand Final history. Stephen Milne, unsighted all day, marked inside 50 before flirting with 70,000 boos from Collingwood supporters by playing on and snapping a goal. Imagine if he missed, or got tackled. Wellingham put another nail in the St Kilda coffin with his second, before Milne again walked the tightrope by playing on after marking and kicking a long goal, and all of a sudden he didn’t look too bad on the goalkickers list. But don’t take his two goals as any indication as to how he played. He was insipid. Sidebottom capped off probably the best day of his life, and I know it is safe to say that as it is highly unlikely that he is married at the age of 19, as Mick Malthouse emerged from the coaches box and started assembling his coaching crew and interchange players on the bench, as if readying them for the final siren. And fittingly, the siren sounded while the ball was in Didak’s hands. Collingwood won, they won their 15th premiership in their long, illustrious history. They deserve it.

Time to get out of the country for a while.

Collingwood 3.2—6.5—11.8—16.12.108

St Kilda 0.2—1.8—4.9—7.10.52


Collingwood-Wellingham 2, Sidebottom 2, Dawes 2, Didak 2, Macaffer 2, Johnson, Goldsack, Thomas, O’Brien, Swan, Jolly

St Kilda-Milne 2, Gilbert, Dal Santo, Goddard, Koschitzke, Hayes


Collingwood-Jolly, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Thomas, N Brown, Ball, Swan, Wellingham, Macaffer, Johnson, Shaw, Maxwell, O’Brien

St Kilda-Dal Santo, Hayes, Goddard, Gwilt, Gilbert


93,853 at the MCG

Norm Smith Medalist: Scott Pendlebury

Leon Davis Medal (Worst on Ground): Brett Peake


3: Darren Jolly (COLL)

2: Steele Sidebottom (COLL)

1: Scott Pendlebury (COLL)

About Josh Barnstable

21 year old North Melbourne supporter from country Victoria. Currently living in Melbourne studying a Bachelor of Sports Media. Dreams of becoming a sports journalist and broadcaster.

Leave a Comment