Round 14 – Collingwood v Fremantle: Low

As a David Bowie obsessive, one can’t help but align a certain soundtrack to this mid season Friday night clash between lowly combatants Collingwood and Fremantle.

The stark, desolate soundscapes of Warszawa, Art Decade, Weeping Wall and Subterraneans echoed around my mind and figuratively around a cavernous MCG filled by 20,000 frigid diehards – the lowest attendance at a Collingwood MCG match since 1940, when echoes from Berlin similarly loomed large.

With the temperature hovering around a 20-year Melbourne winter low of 5 degrees, I wondered to myself what in the world was I doing here when I could be camped on my couch with the sound and vision of Lingy, Wayne and Hamish warming the cockles of my heart.  Wait, strike that.

My thoughts tracked back to a distant time in 1999 – Eddie McGuire as a freshman President, Nathan Buckley as captain auditioning for the role of beleaguered leader.  In the corresponding fixture between these teams in round 8 of a similarly disastrous campaign, the Pies, led by Bucks, charged to their first win of the season in the same arctic conditions in front of a comparably sparse crowd.  That it was celebrated like a final’s win was indeed a historical low point for the Collingwood Football Club.

Wind the clock forward 17 years and the wheel has turned full circle.  The Magpies, inextricably tied to a President always crashing in the same car, has again lost its way.

Still, there was pride and a game to be salvaged, and the young American Mason Cox, who thankfully chose a new career in a new town, provided an early spark as he demonstrated his soccer instincts to grant the Pies the early impetus.

The Dockers’ gathering, it must be said, somehow out-voiced the Magpie fans at the Punt Road end, despite a lowly single goal return at the long break.  This said much about the collective mindset of Collingwood’s true believers, now conditioned to brace for the worst.

At half time the MCG merchandise shop was the place to be.  Not only was it the warmest space available for the great unwashed, the fire sale on Buckley-era Collingwood gear was instructively irresistible.   Having picked up a couple items at low, low prices, I perused the book section.  A publication detailing the MCC’s incredible historical tapestry provided more lows; so many personal heroes now in their dotage, too many others having joined Ziggy in the next world.  Such is the speed of life.

A hard won 40 point margin at half time was eroded somewhat by a more committed Freo outfit that won more contested ball in what was an undeniably ugly scrap.  Meanwhile, the Pies frittered away opportunities to seal the deal with poor entries into the forward arc.

Early in the final term the Dockers pressed their claims however Collingwood resolutely and emphatically reclaimed the game as their own.  Treloar, with the omnipresence of Brian Eno, provided the template to record an eight goal thrashing.  When Travis Cloke channeled the mercurial Tony Visconti and dobbed a goal in driving rain from 40 metres on the boundary, it was time to party like it was 1999.

So, despite the all the lows and Eddie inspired flak, Collingwood celebrated its 1500th win in the big league. No small bickies.  The thin white duke of the Woods’ defence, Ben Reid, held sway all night and was ably supported by Howe, Marsh, Brown, Williams and Sinclair.  A depleted Freo boasted few winners bar Barlow, Crozier and Walters.

Missing the 10.35 South Moron train by 15 seconds was rendered almost bearable.  Tonight (a rare low in Bowie’s imperious discography) at least.


COLLINGWOOD  3.4    7.8   7.10  12.13 (85)
FREMANTLE         0.1    1.4     3.5      5.7 (37)

Collingwood: Cox 2, White 2, Cloke 2, Greenwood, Phillips, De Goey, Treloar, Smith, Aish
Fremantle: Pavlich 2, Ballantyne 2, Walters

Collingwood: Treloar, Reid, Smith, Howe, Cloke, Crisp, Grundy
Fremantle: Barlow, Walters, Neale, Crozier, Hill, Collins

Umpires: Stephens, Ryan, Pannell, Mitchell

Official crowd: 20,320 at the MCG


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About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. John Butler says

    Beautifully worked JD.

    Must admit I always found much of Low fairly hard going. Perhaps it’s time to give it another listen?

    Regarding your President, my Carlton perspective continually reminds me how Jack Elliot was an effective man for his times in the first decade of his presidency. And how precipitate his decline was (along with his club’s) during the second decade.

    Interestingly, Jack and Eddie always seemed to get on pretty well, in spite of the rivalry.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice JD,
    I was one of the 80,000 Members out there. In GA after being excommunicated by the Tories in the MCC. Enjoyed watching Maynard and Marsh down back while Tom Phillips showed a bit.

    Also reminded me of the 1999 game you refer to where the elements, the crowd and the result were similar. Let’s hope we can have some good wins in the back half of the season to take some confidence and a bit of luck with injuries into 2017.

  3. JB – try giving it a listen late at night and let the instrumental side take you gently off to a distant land of nod (I’m told its best consumed – like Dark Side of the Moon – with a dose of wacky tobacky. As for Ed & Jack I think you’re correct. Similar personalities.

    Phil – That game we lost Fas, Moore & Adams in one hit ended our season, we’d only just started getting some continuity and consistency happening. Backline was excellent – even Sinclair was good. But our kicking into the forward line was as bad as ever.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Great write up Jeff.
    Even though the conditions were horrible, it was a very, very ordinary game to watch.
    Reid was wonderful, Smith and Phillips are real goers, liked their games. Glad Marsh is getting a run, think he could be a real player of the future.

  5. Thanks Luke. Yes, the three you mentioned are keeping several Flagpies out of the team atm. I’d like to see Wills get a run too – a big midfield unit who also goes hard.

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