Round 10 – Collingwood v Western Bulldogs: A stadium by any other name (Floreat Pica Society)

Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

7:50PM, Friday May 25

Docklands Stadium (Masquerading as Telstra, Colonial, Etihad & soon to be Marvel)




I approached this game with some trepidation since we had not lived up to the promise of the Crows & Essendon games some 5 round ago. Last week one really good quarter (3rd), followed by a stalemate 4th and preceded by two rusty quarters saw a five goal win against a St Kilda side lacking class and down on confidence, which was not evident for at least half a game. This is a game we should and need to win if we are to make the finals. A Footscray side who have suffered with a lot of injuries and are blooding young players, who have not lived up to their surprise 2016 Premiership.



A second irritant is that is a home game for us, which means our seats are in the bottom level on the 50 metre line at the end we defended in the first quarter. It is not an ideal position from which to judge a game as we are almost at pitch level, in contrast to the MCG where we are on level 2 at the Ponsford end or home games at Docklands where we are on level 3 almost halfway. Both of the latter are much better viewing to see the flow and patter of the game. The only saving grace (if there is one) is we a quite close to some of the action but a long way from a lot of it. It’s a bit like watching at the old Waverly Park from pitch level when player on the other side of the field almost disappeared out of sight due to the slope of the ground from the middle.


Before coming to the game I had a conversation with an old Footscray player, with whom I do some voluntary work for St Vincent de Paul, Murray Zeuschner. Murray played for Footscray in the 60’s, when decimal currency had not been adopted, Menzies was still PM and Australia had it really good in economic terms. I went out visiting with Murray on the Thursday before the game and asked him for some reminiscences about playing against Collingwood. He spent about 20 minutes talking about playing football in the 60’s, especially against Collingwood. I will not relate all the conversation as it may well bore you all and I cannot recall all of it anyway.



Murray recalls playing at Victoria Park in ’65 or ’66 and meeting Len Thompson for the first time on the ground before the game. Murray hails from Stony Creek and some of his mates used to come to Melbourne to watch him. He was warming up on the ground before the game and Len Thompson in his second or third year ran up to him, tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was Murray Zeuschner, which Murray acknowledged, not having met Len before. Len told Murray that his mate Ray would be waiting for him after the game. Ray evidently had approached Len outside the ground before the game and asked him to pass on the message! Murray met up with Ray after the game and invited him into the Footscray rooms then kicked on in the Collingwood social club with the Magpie players until late. It was that day that while the opposing teams were socialising after the game and Ted Whitten said that he would tell his wife, Val, that it was all Murray’s fault he was late home. The intimation being Ted was of elsewhere after the socialising before going home?



Murray talked a lot about how things have changed from then till now, particularly with respect to consumption of alcohol after games on Saturday, on Pleasant Sunday Mornings with the fans after Saturday games and during the week. He also made reference to the size of ruckmen back in those days. Murray was 191cm (6ft 3ins in old money), which is the size of midfielder these days (Scott Pendlebury or Jordan de Goey) or a medium defender like Jack Crisp.



Murray recalls playing against many of the great ruckmen, like Gabelich, Nicolls & Farmer, all of which were about his height, not the 200+cm rucks of today. His other amusing recollection was of a Paul Wadham, who played for Collingwood in 1964 & ’65 (16 games in 1964 & 5 in ’65). Paul was a key position player whom Murray played on as a ruck/back pocket at Vic Park. His recollection of Wadham was that when the ball was coming down to him he would pirouette before going for the mark, a little off-putting for the defender.



But now to the game:



First Quarter


Less said about his the better. My summary to Dave Nadel at quarter time was that it was the Footscray of late 2016 and Collingwood for most of that year. Three gimme goals through 50 metre penalties, two really silly errors, another two from Langdon, who was firming in Dave’s DR’s. Little action up forward and despite Grundy winning the taps few if any going our way. At this stage I could find few to give best player votes to, though Scharenberg was steady, as was the rest of the defence when they were not having brain fades. There was little midfield or forward pressure to prevent the Doggies moving the ball quickly into the forward line. 25 points down and with only 1-1 on the board was not a good omen.



Second Quarter


We began to play more like it but were still giving up silly goals by not enough pressure on the opposition backs and mids. Later in the quarter we narrowed the margin to six points but then let Footscray off the hook to go in at half time 18 down. Treloar was picking up his game, Scharenberg was steady in defence and Grundy stopped making mistakes with his disposal. The forward line was still not functioning well and De Goey was goalless, after his four purple patch games. It was the midfield that got us back closer and I had a feeling this was a game we could win, as well as one we should win. At least we got one gimme goal to Adams. Some of the umpiring decisions were, to say the least, strange. A reminiscence of Murray’s came to mind: umpire Bob Munn, who hated Footscray (!) and cost Georgie Bisset a Brownlow, when he did not give him a vote in the last round of 1974 after he kicked five goals.



Third Quarter


Another third quarter turn around in form that yielded four goals and five points which should have been five goals four, when Adams’ snap was deemed touched by the video bloke. I’m sure he must have much better resolution than the big screen because I could not be sure from the replay. It seems they just go to the video chap to keep him busy and save themselves from having to make a decision?? Footscray only kicked two points in the quarter and had been smothered by our pressure all over the ground. There were many more candidates for good players in this quarter. Grundy was getting the taps, following up and also getting contested ball. In addition his disposal was much better. De Goey went into the middle and made a big difference with his pressure and contested ball. Pendlebury was quiet in disposal but effective, while taking a good Footscray player to release one of our lesser lights like Phillips. Treloar had leather poisoning the number of times he had the ball and mostly used it effectively.



Final Quarter


We did not run away with the game but went from nine points in front to 35 at the end of the game with goal after the siren from Daicos, recalling some his dad’s cool slotting of six pointers, though not crucial. Footscray kicked only 2 points again in this quarter as they ran out of legs and ideas, mostly due to our pressure a speed. More players put their hand up for votes in this quarter, Pendlebury with a great skipper’s goal early on to really seal the win and defenders Crisp & Langdon kept up their good work of earlier in the night, though Langdon had blotted his copybook too much to be considered among the bests.



Votes for the Horsbrough


After much thinking over the weekend the following are my choices:


3 – Treloar. Consistent over 4 quarters and was in the fight when we needed him in the 3rd quarter. Fewer errors than other contenders and a lot of contested ball.


2 – Scharenberg. Steady when the chips were down in the first and second quarter. Is really coming into his own and showing why we took him at pick 5 and kept the faith. Whatever has happened to his little brother who supposed to be top 10 pick?


3 – Grundy. This was a toss-up between him, Phillips and Pendlebury. Made a lot of blues in the first half and I noticed got a talking to by Bucks at quarter time. His real work if often not in the ruck, though he won that contest hands down, (but often not to us), it is in contested and around the ground. He still needs to mind his opposing ruck much more.


Apologies to Pendlebury, but we expect him to be in the best 3 most weeks! Also apologies to Phillips, Crisp and Hoskin-Elliott (for assists not goals)



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