Round 14 – Carlton v Collingwood: The End of a 39-year Wait (Floreat Pica Society)

Carlton v Collingwood
3:35pm, Sunday August 30
The Gabba


By Guy Fazzino





Most, if not all, Collingwood supporters over 50 (like me) pencil in Carlton games every year. These are the games which Collingwood just has to win, for to lose is to suffer the anguish and despair that can only be assuaged when Collingwood next vanquishes the arch enemy or wins a Premiership, whichever comes first. You see, apart from winning flags, there’s nothing better than beating Carlton, especially so in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, because the pain inflicted on the Pies by those tauntingly arrogant Blues since 1970, particularly in those 3 Grand Finals, is a hurt that, though dulled with time, will never go away.


It’s football’s oldest, deepest and most bitter rivalry, so to go into this game one win shy of evening the ledger after 39 long and often painful years, was an occasion befitting a much grander stage than the small, distant and neutral venue of the Gabba. But this was our reality in 2020 – the Year of Living Weirdly.


So here we were, once again denied the anticipation that comes with queuing to get in at the mighty ‘G, denied the intoxicating smell of pies in plastic bags and chips in cardboard cups, denied the colour and the spectacle associated with bursting through the banner, denied the guttural roar as the first ball is bounced, denied the ability to see the ground in its entirety so that one can make sense of the play ahead and behind the ball, denied the immersive experience that comes with yelling yourself hoarse amongst a heaving throng of 80,000 fervent fans, and ultimately denied the tribal, primal and sheer exhilaration of belting out “Good Old Collingwood Forever” after a milestone victory against the old foe. In summary, denied the opportunity to feel, to sense, to be, at the football.


Instead, as has been the norm in this COVID crazy season, we found ourselves huddled around our TVs, witnessing the game through the eyes of others, trying desperately to avoid the feeling of sterility, detachment and indifference that inevitably comes with watching the game you love via a screen.


Both teams had won their previous game – the Pies unconvincingly over a second-from- bottom North Melbourne – who were clearly looking towards the future by fielding a very inexperienced side – while the Blues took care of business over the Suns in the heat of Darwin. The form trajectories of both teams appeared to be going in opposite directions – Collingwood were coughing and spluttering to the finish line, searching for that sparkling form that had eluded them for 6 games, while Carlton’s momentum was clearly building under the tutelage of David Teague as they pressed towards a first finals appearance since 2013.


Collingwood went into the game making five changes, welcoming back Mihocek, Stephenson and Quaynor, but were still missing De Goey, Howe, Treloar, Reid, Sier and Langdon through injury, and Sidebottom and Beams for personal reasons. Carlton too, were without C Curnow, Kreuzer, J Silvagni, McGovern, Cuningham, Kennedy and Newman from their best 22.


Collingwood, seventh on the ladder, were one and a half wins ahead of Carlton who were tenth but with a game in hand. For the first time in years, both teams had plenty to play for. In what shaped as an early elimination final, this would be a contest of real significance between these two famous clubs. So the stage was set for a classic game under a typically warm and sunny Brisbane sky.


The Game

In a tight opening that reflected the occasion, both teams looked tense with significant passages of scrappy play accentuated by fumbling, dropped marks, miskicks and miscues. Phillips finally drew first blood after an errant kickout by Carlton and Thomas kicked a crumbing goal for the Pies’ second. Later in the quarter, Hoskin-Elliott returned the favour with a dribble kick from deep in defence giving Carlton their second for the quarter. Thomas, Elliott, Adams, Phillips, and Pendlebury were all lively early, but Cox, Cameron and Mihocek were virtually unsighted. Walsh, Murphy and Curnow were busy for the Blues but Cripps was uncharacteristically quiet. Pies up 2.2 to 2.0.


The Pies lost the second stanza by 10 points, losing control of the game in the latter half of the quarter. Several of Carlton’s five goals came as a result of quick transition from the backline to the forward half. Of the Maggies’ three for the quarter, the most memorable was the first when Thomas, displaying form more reminiscent of 2018, speared one through on the run after Crisp had made a hash of bouncing the ball. Collingwood’s other goals came via a Stephenson set shot and a Mihocek snap. Carlton went into the main break looking ominous and Pies supporters were getting worried. Pies down 5.6 to 7.2.


The third quarter was an arm wrestle, with neither team able to break free. Carlton looked dangerous early but as the quarter went on Collingwood slowly began to get more hands on the ball with Adams, Pendlebury, Elliott and Daicos becoming particularly influential. The backline too, had tightened up considerably as Moore, Maynard, Crisp, Quaynor, Noble and even Madgen repelled repeated attacks and generated forays of their own. Elliott missed a golden opportunity midway through the quarter, spraying one as he was streaming towards goal, but the worst offender was Stephenson who inexplicably chose to play on and kick over his shoulder after taking a mark no more than 30 metres out virtually in front. Such misses can send coaches to the funny farm. In what proved to be the only goal for the quarter, Cox marked and converted from the top of the square although Martin had a chance to goal for the Blues from a set shot near three quarter time but bewilderingly elected to kick a wayward pass instead. Pies still down 6.8 to 7.4 at three quarter time.


The tension was palpable as the last quarter began. The Pies started well but failed to kick truly, particularly Hoskin-Elliott who made a meal of what should have been a relatively easy running goal from 30 metres out. He was having an absolute shocker. Fortunately, the Pies were rewarded after repeated entries when Stephenson dribbled one through to put them seven points up. Not long afterwards, Mayne was collected by Cripps and taken off the ground with concussion and a suspected broken cheekbone. This didn’t seem to stop the Pies however, who were now dominating everywhere. Daicos, front and centre, snapped on his left, then Mihocek sank a bomb from outside 50. When Cripps missed a set shot from 30 metres out directly in front, the game was effectively over. The Pies then ran out the clock, putting the icing on the cake when Cox kicked truly from 20 metres out. The Maggies finished full of running, winning the 258th instalment of this ancient rivalry 10.12 to 7.6.


Collingwood kicked their third highest score of the season in what was surely one of their most satisfying wins of the year while Carlton, who had showed early promise, faded badly, only managing four points in the second half.


So the Pies emerged triumphant and victorious, the fans (particularly those over 50) rejoicing in the fact that finally, after 14,218 days (and 76 matches since that dagger in the heart that was the 1981 Grand Final), their mighty Pies had once again drawn level with the Blues on 127 wins each.


But instead of enjoying the delirium of a raucous rendition of Good Old Collingwood Forever at the ‘G, we had to content ourselves with singing that famous song from the sanctuary of our lounge rooms. Such is the 2020 season.


All that’s left to do now is to beat them in a Grand Final; one can only dream…



CARLTON                2.0    7.2    7.4     7.6 (48)
COLLINGWOOD    2.2    5.6    6.8    10.12 (72)



Carlton: Betts 2, Walsh, McKay, Fisher, Curnow, Newnes

Thomas, Stephenson, Mihocek, Cox 2, Phillips, Daicos



Carlton: Walsh, Curnow, Setterfield, Betts, Fisher, Weitering

Elliott, Adams, Daicos, Crisp, Maynard, Moore




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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic write up Guy. Great to even up that ledger that we’ve been behind in for all of my living memory. Let’s get it in front and stay there!

  2. Frank Taylor says

    Top stuff Guy.

    I can remember when the Blues overtook it on the winning record and I cannot wait to go past again………

    Go Pies!!

  3. Peter Fuller says

    A very disappointing performance by the Blues, so congratulations (through gritted teeth) to the Pies. There was a lot at stake and Collingwood responded with a gritty win and the blueboys came up short. I also acknowledge Guy that your match report is a fair and accurate reflection of the match. I’d probably write a different version of the preamble. Carlton should have done better, and seemed unable to press home their advantage in periods of ascendancy during the see-saw prior to 3/4 time. The final quarter was a disaster and has effectively finished off the Blues’ prospects of finals action

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