Round 13 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: Zooming



The invitation came through via email from Axehead. Monday night football. Collingwood v North. Catch up via Zoom. The invitees, who numbered just a few, were either North or Pies supporters. We knew each other from when we all attended Newman College, at Melbourne Uni in the late 1970s. Actually, Axehead didn’t officially live there, but he did seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on the premises, scoring free meals and generally making a nuisance of himself. Axe is a North supporter. The others were Poddy – a North supporter who had actually barracked for Carlton when I first knew him – still not sure when and why the conversion took place; Petrol – a North supporter, and Tom, who barracks for the Pies. Not sure why Tom didn’t get a nickname – must have been something to do with being a six-foot five footballer who wasn’t readily intimidated.


The pre-game chat didn’t seem to be a lot about football. I had a technical question about viewing platforms, knowing the lack of synchronicity could lead to some confusion. The assurance came that we would watch the game in isolation and then re-convene at the breaks. When asked my prediction of the quarter-time score: a nil all draw.


I had known Poddy, when he was still known as Paul, when we went to the same primary school in Ballarat. Paul’s family moved to Port Fairy with his father’s bank manager position at the end of our Grade 5. I went to his house in Port Fairy for a week-long holiday at the end of Grade 6 but after that we lost contact until we met again at Uni. Axehead (Andrew) was from Katamatite, Tom from Wangaratta and Petrol (Peter) from Birchip. Coming from the country and living on campus we had forged friendships that continue to this day. Now we all live in the Melbourne metro area and some of us would have met up for a pre-game beer in the Blazer Bar if life was normal. And if it hadn’t been a Monday night.


The quarter time conversation centred around the free kick not given to the North defender which resulted in Collingwood’s only goal for the quarter. Tom and I, of course, disputed the North supporters’ view of the event. The overall assessment was that it had been a generally uninspiring quarter of football. North’s two goals had come directly from clearing Collingwood kicks which had not reached their intended targets.


At half time we were joined by a couple of non-aligned interlopers. Grumpy (Mark), originally from Bendigo, barracks for Carlton and was doing some scouting on behalf of his team, who are scheduled to meet the Pies next week. Mick supports Richmond and I think he was only there to remind us that his team had won two of the last three premierships. Mick’s wife Kath was apparently upstairs attending her on-line book club. Kath could have bolstered the Collingwood numbers, but apparently being married to a Richmond supporter for more than thirty-five years can significantly crush your enthusiasm for football. Mick was one of those rare beasts from college who actually lived in Melbourne but still lived on campus. His parents probably, and understandably, just wanted him out of the house.


Mark told the story of a recent walk in his Hawthorn neighbourhood when he had run into Neale Daniher. Neale, from Ungarie in NSW, had also attended Newman in his first year in Melbourne and his first year at Essendon. In college football legend, Neale had kicked twelve goals in an inter-college grand final when Essendon didn’t actually know that was playing. Mark had re-introduced himself to Neale, surprised that Neale hadn’t remembered that it had been Mark, one of Neale’s team-mates that day, who had given Neale a real boost to his football career. Ungrateful or what?


Late third quarter Collingwood goals had created a break that, in this low-scoring encounter, seemed significant. North supporters were almost resigned to defeat. Collingwood supporters hopeful, but not overly-confident. But when Sidebottom kicked one very early in the last, even before the Zoom meeting was paused. Mark declared it for Collingwood.


Post-game there was little cheering, no gloating and certainly no positive prognostications for either team. There was resignation that the Axehead-organised annual golf weekend in Cobram Barooga was not going to happen. And for just the second time since he attended his first VFL/AFL grand final in 1964. Axe will not be attending the season climax. He last missed in 1974. The reason for that is some convoluted tale of being a boarder at Champagnat College in Wangaratta, his school-boarder team winning a local competition grand final, and in the celebration aftermath, one of his team-mates vomiting in the headmaster’s office. The entire boarder cohort was grounded.


But none of us, fully cognisant of Axehead’s talents as a chiseller and grifter, are ruling out his in-person attendance just yet.




COLLINGWOOD                 1.2     4.3     8.3    10.5 (65)
NORTH MELBOURNE     2.1    3.4     5.5      5.5 (35) 


Collingwood: Ruscoe 2, Thomas, Daicos, Cox, Appleby, Adams, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Hoskin-Elliott
North Melbourne: Dumont, Hosie, Scott, Simpkin, Xerri


Pendlebury, Adams, Maynard, Moore, Sidebottom, Mayne, Daicos
North Melbourne: Anderson, Higgins, Simpkin, McDonald, Dumont 


North Melbourne: Mahony (shoulder)


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About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. Superb. In the finest tradition of college life. You had to open with Axehead – and his diminutive: Axe.

    I remain close to the Union College (UQ) crew from a similar period. We use messenger so I hear from Toole, Zot, Wish, Spud, Otis, TG (a commenter on this site), Hungry (a contributor, named in second year for his resemblance already to KB), Gulbo, The People’s Hero, Nance, Spoiler (of Confessions fame), Donk, and others.

    Haven’t had an Axehead though.

    Thanks for a great read.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Great piece Andrew, also loved the nicknames.

    Zoom has been possibly the one good thing to come out of the pandemic, I can’t see myself ever leaving home for a cricket club committee meeting ever again!

  3. Ramon Dobb says

    Great yarn Andrew, love the diversity of the group, the Zoom alternative and as highlighted by John the bloody ripper nicknames. Cheers from Stinga!

    PS no mention of the ARC and the Pies’ record resembling that of Shame Watson’s DRS record ?. Go Pies

  4. Danielle Hakim says

    I love that you are still in contact with uni friends Andrew!
    How about them Maggies?!

  5. Brendan Williams says

    Well done Nugget but now all the rest of us are feeling left out. Cheers Billy Arse

  6. Andrew Fithall says

    Thanks for the feedback people. I love your Magpie enthusiasm Danni. It is great to have you back in the Footy Almanac fold.

    Billy (or should I call you Gordon, or Vance, or Sphincter or Brenzo – I believe you answer to any of them and that probably all were bestowed by one Giuseppe Barlow) – I have never seen your (nick)name written in two parts with a capital A for the second part. Interesting development. As for you feeling left out – having one obnoxious Richmond supporter in virtual attendance was already over quota.


  7. I’m a North supporter however have nearly finished my book “Collingwood FC best and fairest till 1989 …as told through footy cards”. $39.95 it’s a trip down memory land. The cards make an exceptional story of great champions more so. Hope people want to by the limited edition first print!

    North will have to wait until next year.

    Go Roos.


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