Round 13 – Melbourne v Collingwood: Buckley’s chance (Floreat Pica Society)

by Guy Fazzino for the Floreat Pica Society


Melbourne v Collingwood
Monday 14 June 2021, 3.20pm

Buckley’s Chance




Sport has a habit of producing some of the best reality television, and football is no different. How often have we seen football transcending the mundane and becoming something else, something more, something special? This is when magic happens and memories are created forever. Who could ever forget when Hawthorn won the flag in 1976 for their ailing captain Peter Crimmins who tragically passed away three days later, or that night in 2003 when Jason McCartney played his comeback game, or the Cinderella story that was the Bulldogs in the 2016 Finals series? Inspirational events in time which will forever be forged in football history.


On a day when we honoured the inspirational Neale Daniher in his fight against MND, could this traditional Queen’s Birthday game provide the romantic denouement that all football fans (bar those in red and blue) were secretly praying for? Would this be a game to live long in the memories of the Collingwood faithful? Would the players lift and give Bucks the farewell that he deserved? Would it be another one of those backs-to-the-wall, against all odds victories that Collingwood is famous for? YOU BET IT WAS!!!


Going into this game, most pundits gave the Pies no hope. Let’s face it, they were facing a Melbourne juggernaut that had taken all before it this season, sitting on top of the ladder with an 11-1 record, losing its only game by one point in very controversial circumstances, while Collingwood were languishing near the bottom, enduring an annus horribilis, which began with its humiliation in last year’s semi final against Geelong and has unravelled in spectacular fashion on and off the field ever since.


Virtually all season, the Pies have played an unattractive, unadventurous and quite frankly a very difficult-to-watch brand of football that not only saw it lose games which it should have won, but also saw it lose fans as well. Supporters were jumping off in their droves, choosing to stay at home rather than sit through another painful game of “hot potato”, “comedy capers” or “deer in the headlights”. Who could blame them? Were they being coached this way or was loss of confidence producing “play it safe, do not dare, football”? I’ll leave that for others to judge. One thing was for sure, the Club had had enough and told Buckley that his time was up. The Queen’s Birthday game would be his last as Collingwood coach. All that was left to decide was how much they were going to lose by.


And so in front of 16,453 fans at the SCG (thanks COVID), Nathan Buckley proceeded to coach his 218th and final game for Collingwood in what in all likelihood, was going to be his 100th loss. The thing is, the players didn’t read the script.


First Quarter


The first quarter is an arm wrestle, a defensive scrap marred by basic kicking errors and crude tackling, primarily from Collingwood. Typical of many of Collingwood’s games this year, the endeavour isn’t in question, only the execution. While it’s evident that the Pies aren’t going to make it easy for the Dees, one has the sense that it’s only a matter of time before Melbourne stamps their authority on the game. The crowd is subdued, as if waiting for the inevitable goal rush from Melbourne.


Cameron scores the only goal for the Pies. Maynard, De Goey and Pendlebury busy while Lynch is holding his own against Gawn. A Neal-Bullen goal is touched in the air for a point while McDonald misses a sitter running into an open goal. Demons should be further in front.


Pies 1.4.10; Dees 2.2.14


Second Quarter


Oliver snags a goal early but the Pies get the next four, including two from Mihocek within two minutes. Pies winning the contested ball battle and taking several marks inside 50. Poor kicking in the backline lets Melbourne in for an easy goal and gives them a sniff for the next five minutes. But the Pies respond with some great tapwork from Lynch to De Goey who spins and dishes off to McCreery who also spins, fends and barges his way through for a slashing goal!


Moore is impassable at CHB, Crisp is providing plenty of drive and De Goey continues to be damaging around the ball. Elliott however, is having one of those not-quite-there games, seemingly muffing every contest he’s involved in but nevertheless throwing himself in at everything.


Pies 6.8.44; Dees 4.4.28


Is an upset brewing?


Third Quarter


Murphy is subbed out for Rantall with a left side strain. Thomas has a regulation set shot from 45m out early, but disappointingly fails to make the distance. The Dees move the ball down the other end and Gawn converts truly – a two goal turn around. Melbourne starts to pepper the goals, Brayshaw stuffs a gilt-edged opportunity before Petracca bursts into an open goal. A few minutes later Fritsch snaps another after Roughead chooses to spoil the ball back into play rather than through the goals. Suddenly the Dees are in front and the Pies are wobbling. Sidebottom is turning the ball over, kicks are falling short, marks are being dropped, players look indecisive and poor decisions are being made – sound familiar? On the flipside, Melbourne looks like they’ve finally woken from their slumber.


When McDonald is paid a free kick 30m out to kick the Dees’ fourth in a row, Collingwood fans are getting that sickening feeling, but no – he hits the post! The Pies then take the ball forward the length of the ground and Cameron is awarded a dubious mark over May and converts! A two goal turn around again! The joy is shortlived however as Jackson lays a crunching tackle on Noble and kicks Melbourne back in front. The game is on the line now as the intensity has noticeably lifted and a low-scoring period ensues. Poulter, lacking composure, misses his second snap for the quarter but Oliver misses a set shot not long afterwards. Finally, Mihocek breaks the deadlock by scoring truly from a 60 degree angle and the Pies cling to a five point lead as the siren sounds a couple of minutes later. Can they hang on or will Melbourne spoil the party?


Pies 8.11.59; Dees 8.6.54


Fourth Quarter


The ball is in Collingwood’s forward half early but the Pies miss a couple of chances from McCreery and Mihocek before the seas seem to part and Noble spots Pendlebury with a 50m dart down the middle of the ground who then lays the ball out in front for Cameron to mark in an open paddock. He kicks his fourth (one in each quarter) and the Pies open a handy two goal break.


When Pendlebury lays a hot tackle on Sparrow and kicks a superb 60 degree bomb from 45m out, all black and white lounge rooms around the country erupt with emotion – a magnificent captain’s goal! The players are suddenly inspired – throwing themselves into the fray and swarming like a pack of sharks. They do not want to be denied! Desperate efforts abound with telling marks from Quaynor, Moore, Roughead, Cameron, Lynch and even Madgen. Pickett has a chance to get one back but he sprays his set shot. The Pies then go into keepings off mode but Sidebottom inexplicably sprays his kick from D50 out on the full! The Dees duly take the ball forward and scramble a goal and when Pendlebury thumps a ball over the goal line it’s suddenly an 11-point ball game. Surely the Pies can’t lose it from here!


But they hang on in the final two and half minutes with Maynard taking a match winning pack mark in defence and Sidebottom sealing the deal with a goal after the siren. They’ve done it! The Pies win it for Bucks! The players go berserk and so do the black and white army! What a fairytale!


Against all odds, Collingwood does it again – winning a game in which virtually everybody thought they had Buckley’s chance.


Pies 11.14.80 Dees 9.9.63




And so the Buckley era ends. Can anyone remember a coach being asked to leave on the back of winning his last two games?



MELBOURNE          2.2     4.4     8.6     9.9 (63)
COLLINGWOOD     1.4     6.8     8.11     11.14 (80)


Melbourne: Jackson 2, Neal-Bullen, Harmes, Oliver, Gawn, Petracca, Fritsch, Langdon
Collingwood: Cameron 4, Mihocek 3, Hoskin-Elliott, McCreery, Pendlebury, Sidebottom


Melbourne: Salem, Petracca, Harmes, Oliver, Jordon
Collingwood: De Goey, Maynard, Pendlebury, Crisp, Cameron, Quaynor, Lynch


Melbourne: Nil
Collingwood: Murphy (corked leg)


Melbourne: Kade Chandler (unused)
Collingwood: Jay Rantall (replaced Nathan Murphy)



To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.

One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE.

Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE.



Leave a Comment