Round 1 – Collingwood v Western Bulldogs: The Planets Align

Round 1

Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

MCG 24 March 2016



And the planets align

A conspiratorial triumph


Mark Seymour welcomed me to Melbourne, the last refrain of The Holy Grail in my ears as the plane touched down and I looked out the window at a beautiful day in a welcoming city. Our annual pilgrimage to the home of footy now upon us, the weekend so long in the planning and the subject of so much by text, phone, yelling and general banter was finally here, and what a weekend it offered…


Just as to win a flag requires that everything goes right when it needs to, so the footy trip relies on planning, luck, and a host of unknowns coming to the party. Unlike a premiership tilt however, the Footy trip is a chameleon, it’s an ever-moving, constantly evolving process more akin to a moon landing than anything: a journey into the unknown from where the rewards of experience and memories far outweigh the simple joy of silverware.


Eyeing round one as a weekend where a break from Brisbane was possible, I offered it to JT Harms only to hear that our plans would combine sweetly with his proposed Almanac Season Launch, complete with ex Dogs, William McInnes and Percy Jones’ pub. I’ll henceforth refer to JTH as “Conspirator A”.


A quick call to Bobby Matheson, recumbent in Glenelg, revealed that the Crows v GWS at Adelaide Oval was also on offer: clearly Bobby was “Conspirator B”.


Topping last year’s trip to Hobart would always be tough, but with the planets coming together so early, the die was cast. And here we were, in the fast cab to Docklands, to an unexpected hotel (not the one I thought I’d booked, but no bother) where Russ met us, eager to join the fun.


Of all his talents, McInnes is an exceptional orator, and he kept us in a mixture of disbelief (he is neither stupid nor fat, despite his protestations to the contrary) and laughter between guest chats with the great Kelvin Templeton, Conspirator A’s MC work and our dining – which included a mysterious deep fried dish, a nice calamari plate and a veritable truck load of booze.


Details of the trip to the game were confirmed by Conspirator C the following morning, he having taken as a personal challenge each year to babysit the most drunk of our team (hence his designation Conspirator C). This was clearly me, and who was I to argue with a man of such reason and due diligence, but apparently several other establishments lay in ambush as we made our way to the MCG, and as visitors to this fine city we were not about to abuse her hospitality.


Somehow managing to acquire our tickets – I presume conspirator C completed this task – a welcoming committee of 67,000 passionate fans greeted our entry with a rapturous cheer and the players duly ran through Danny’s first banner of the year: alas I know not what it said but I do recall seeing it. As if that helps. There were many words I think, and they were probably funny.


The Dogs rolled out of the blocks with ruthless aplomb, the Pies wasting their opportunities and their fans wasting their time yelling at the new Dog Cloke. With one rocket from 50 he silenced their baying for his blood, and how the Doggies got around him- I think it was a plan, so Luke Beveridge must be Conspirator D.


With just the scoreboard between them and victory, the Pies tried their best, but too many sweet Pendlebury disposals arrived at the bungling hands of his fumble-footed forwards and were abruptly swept away by Biggs and co. Murphy roamed like he’d never been away, but proved human with his first clanger in living memory and was a quiet reprise of his previous marauding presence: Easton Wood had little opportunity to soar and Father-and-son Boyds simply did “enough”.


The Pies on the ground were no match for the Pies on offer at the upstairs eatery and half time bought me a lamb and rosemary treat – a custom I look forward to annually and proof that though somewhat inebriated I was still capable of quality decision making. I was indifferent to the game, of the belief that the Dogs had another gear or two and the Pies would wilt. And wilt they did, despite commanding the ruck and with their midfield purring, their forward line was less a complete finishing group and more a shambolic turnover machine. Darcy More is the human equivalent of a mother-driven SUV at a shopping centre: decision paralysis if options exist.


The Dogs simply rolled along, taking their chances like premiers do, and although not doing enough to inspire me greatly, they did enough to beat Collingwood, which in any man’s language is the definition of “enough”. For us it was just a tram ride, a couple of laps of the block on the recommendation of Jeff’s phone, and we were home. Conspirator C had the room at temperature and I hardly noticed any discomfort in having chosen the floor instead of the bed, perhaps it chose me.


Conspirator B calls me as we are waiting for the morning flight out: he’s tied it on worse than me and we both forgot to wish one another farewell at lunch. So many years I’ve known him, so many plans we’ve hatched, but this one takes the cake. The people, the places, the footy. And so a mere 24 hrs after touching down, we are lifting off toward Adelaide and part two of the adventure. Wineries will replace the coffee shops, Adelaide Oval substitutes for the MCG and we contemplate catching the women’s Grand Final on TV. I’m slowing coming to terms with conversation and the head is throbbing less with a couple of coffees on board, but recollections of the day before keep appearing and making me giggle. There is no denying it, the planets just aligned.


COLLINGWOOD                1.5   7.9   9.11   12.14 (86)
WESTERN BULLDOGS     5.1   9.1   14.6    15.10 (100)



Collingwood: Fasolo 3, Sidebottom 2, Pendlebury 2, White, Mayne, Treloar, Goldsack, Hoskin-Elliott
Western Bulldogs: Hunter 3, Johannisen 2, Bontempelli 2, Picken 2, M.Boyd, Stringer, Cloke, Liberatore, Crameri, McLean

Best players:
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Treloar, Adams.
Western Bulldogs: Dahlhaus, Cloke, Hunter.


Malarkey: Cloke 3, Pendlebury 2, Hunter 1



About Bill Ellis

As easy to read as a Clermont green.


  1. Les Currie says

    Terrific reading Bill. You have a great way with words. There are a few good writers and comedians amongst this Footy Almanac group. I’m pleased I finally found out about it.

  2. Cheers Les, hope I fit in one of those categories!
    The launch was a cracker, and Adelaide was great too, but very hot.

  3. Les Currie says

    You certainly do Bill. I really like your style. L

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