Round 14 – Collingwood v Fremantle: Never mind the result. Missing Collingwood fans should be ashamed of themselves!

20,320 at the MCG on a Friday night, the lowest black and white crowd since 1940. That’s 76 years!

What is the world coming to? What has happened to their 80,000+ members? Collingwood! This is Collingwood we’re talking about. The team that more Australians love, than any other team!

According to those south of the border, it’s only Sydneysiders and Queenslanders who don’t really care about their teams. Those north of the divide are supposed to be fickle: there when they’re up, and missing when they’re down. Sydneysiders are supposed to like the razzle dazzle of success. In fact, they revel in that sort of razzle dazzle. Success is paramount in Sydney and not just on the sporting field. Succeed, and you’ve made it – no matter how you’ve attained it. The media celebrate your achievements and the public follow suit. Success is everywhere: it is discussed in the cafes and bars, on the trains and buses, in the streets and parklands, and Sydneysiders just love it, and can’t survive without it.

The same applies on the footy field, and despite little coverage of AFL and Sydney Swans in Sydney’s media, success is paramount to ensuring bums on seats at the SCG. Gone are the days when tickets were freely handed out to look as if people cared about this alien game; gone are the days when the Swanettes were told to expose their beautiful dancing bodies to bring in the converts, and gone are the days when half-capacity crowds turned up to see whether this team had anything to offer the sceptical Sydneysiders. It took a while, but success eventually came.

Thousands upon thousands filed through the turnstiles. They liked what they saw and came back for more. Year after year they kept coming, and today they want more of it; they want success to continue. All 50,000 of them.

Some even venture out in the rain. Sydneysiders don’t usually like it when rain falls or the temperature drops. They tend to stay indoors and wait for the usual sunny beautiful day to re-emerge.

So, when 20,230 Collingwood fans (maybe 200 or so Freo people included) turn up at the MCG on a so-called blockbuster Friday night, what does that tell us?

It tells me that the weather forecast was just too unbearable; that their team isn’t the team they hoped it would be by Round 13 (despite injuries); Freo would probably continue in the same vein as previous weeks, and win; and that success wasn’t going to happen this year, so what’s the point!

When almost the same number of Swans fans (19,086) turned up at the SCG last weekend, in atrocious conditions, with no respite in sight from the pelting rain, what does that tell us?

It tells me that maybe 10,000 Sydneysiders who normally don’t venture out in the wet decided to stay indoors to watch on television; that most Swans supporters believed in their team and wanted to see them perform, no matter the conditions; and that the all-important success that has been maintained for most of the past 20 years, reigns supreme.

What I would like to be told, or believe, is that the reason that so few black and white clad fans turned up last night was because they were making a stand against their President. Is that possible? No, it is not. Most of them probably adore him and find no fault. What a shame.

And I don’t need to be told that Sydneysiders this week had other things to focus on. The Blues were playing the Maroons in State of Origin and the Wallabies playing the Poms in Union. North of the border the Eddie/Caroline saga was almost a non-event. There was little in the papers and only a couple of letters in the dailies. I imagine it was the same further north in Queensland. It is a different world up here!

Collingwood fans – those who went missing – you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I’m sure that success in Melbourne is almost as important as it is in Sydney, but surely, supporting your team – no matter what – is a given. Every team needs its supporters, through thick and thin, so get back on board and do the right thing. And, while you’re at it, start questioning Eddie.

p.s. If ever the Swans fall down the ladder I do wonder what the attendance figures would be at the SCG!! I don’t like to think of such a scenario!

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About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. The Wrap says

    Maybe they’re ashamed of their President Jan. Maybe they’ve bailed out with him, to warmer climes. (r less hot climes maybe) And dare we say it, maybe a good percentage of those 80K+ listed members are but shadows of their listed selves.

    Then again, maybe the Brexit is not the only Exodus we witnessed this weekend.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Can’t help but agree with you Jan. Collingwood has been a divided club for some years now starting with the Malthouse v Buckley saga. Eddie probably should have vacated his position after the Goodes gaffe. They are 19,000 down from last year and in free fall.
    Wrap, if you go by the fan forums, most are still behind Eddie and defend him to the hilt over Goodes and Caro comments citing “Political Correctness Gone Made” “Lighten Up” “Harden Up” etc. Seems many have just “Given Up” and refuse to “Show Up”. I was there and enjoyed watching some of our young talent show ability. Yes, it was cold, but it’s a winter sport. Side by Side when it suits us.

  3. jan courtin says

    That exactly what I was hoping Wrap, but as I implied in the article, I doubt very much that they were making a stand against Eddie.

    And, even if the temperature was down to 3 degrees, I would have thought Melburnians were used to a cold night or two.


  4. John Butler says

    Jan, I must take issue here.

    Sinking the boots into Collingwood when they’re down is a job for Carlton folk.

    I’m afraid I must refer this encroachment to the arbitration tribunal

    You’ll be hearing from my representatives..

  5. jan courtin says

    Thanks Phil and John

    Side by Side, indeed, Phil. Pleased to hear that a true supporter was there, enjoying the performance of your young talented kids. What a player that Adam Treloar is! And good to see Travis and Jesse having a go and kicking some goals.

    John: That’s very funny! I look forward to receiving notification from your representatives! Will they be on behalf of Collingwood or Carlton?

  6. Topend Bungeye says

    Fremantle involved, coached by the number one destroyer of entertaining footy, is my answer to your question. Ever since Ross Lyon went to Freo, I would rather try to sharpen a running chainsaw than watch a game with the wharfies and any team (including my sleepy hollowers) playing. Not worth the price or the effort involved to show up regardless of the weather.

  7. Les Everett says

    This was a real failure for the Collingwood Football Club.

    On the big stage and they’ve let down the whole competition.

    Next year I propose they be given games in Launceston (vs Hawthorn) and Darwin (vs Port Adelaide).

    I’m so disappointed in the club and supporters.

  8. jan courtin says

    Interesting observation Topend Bungeye, but I would have thought than any supporters playing Freo – especially this year – would definitely turn up, just to see a win!


  9. I didn’t expect to see your name associated with any team other than Swans – even though Sydney is very much part of your article.

    Let’s hope the falling down the ladder scenario is a long way off!

    Go Swannies!

  10. 14,000 Bomber fans last week at Etihad under the roof. Don’t think that game was on live free-to-air either. Do they get a lecture too?

  11. jan courtin says

    Thanks for your comments Les and Marcel

    I tend to agree with you Les, and if I were on the Collingwood Board I’d be extremely disappointed too, which would just add to the extreme disappointment felt towards the President.

    Marcel: Although I mostly write about my beloved Swans, I just love footy, and watch all the games. I don’t want to even think about the future – even as far as this year, let alone any possible falling down the ladder scenarios in years to come. The Sydney AFL market just can’t afford for that to happen!
    Cheer cheer

  12. jan courtin says

    Maybe they’ve had too many lectures these past few years JD, but yes, if that would satisfy you. At least they have an excuse this year, with half their team out, and their supporters not expecting anything much from them. Congratulations to the 14,000 who did see them last weekend.

    I mentioned Collingwood, firstly because the MCG looks so much more vacant when small numbers attend, secondly because they have (I think) more members than anyone else, and thirdly just simply because they’re Collingwood!

  13. The crowd was disappointing – there’s no denying that and I mentioned it in my own match summary Jan. But Collingwood fans being ASHAMED of themselves when it was 5 degrees, all car parks were closed and the train lines were disrupted is a little rich coming from a Sydney supporter. There’s no doubt the crowd numbers at certain games are cause for concern however there’s a bigger picture.

    Ashamed of our president yes, but not ashamed not dragging the kids etc out in those conditions when the game is on live TV.

  14. Dave Brown says

    Reckon we need a better measure of supportership, Jan. Perhaps the percentage of members that on average show up to a home game. Crows got 37,000 to Adelaide Oval on a freezing school night (not school holidays in SA yet) with a forecast of torrential rain (which, thankfully, did not eventuate). Sadly in my experience actually rocking up to the footy is an invitation for the AFL to take you for granted.

  15. jan courtin says

    Just wondering JD whether there have been other days in the past 70+ years when the temperature has been very low, transport disrupted and no parking at the MCG. The answer, I’m sure, is yes. And before TV came into our homes, we went to the footy – no matter the conditions.

    I’m also quite sure that the Collingwood masses would have turned up had you been in the eight and fighting for finals.

    I’m not too sure about the “coming from a Sydney supporter”. I’m a Melburnian/South Melbourne person from way back, so I know what footy means to Victorians, and I certainly know what it means to be involved with a losing side, week after week and year after year.

    Maybe I can be accused of being too passionate, and that passion includes going to games to support my team, no matter what. Rightly or wrongly, or maybe even naively, I somehow expect others to be the same – especially Collingwood supporters, known to be the most passionate of all.


  16. jan courtin says

    Hi Dave
    Sorry, you’re not acknowledged in the above comment – yours hadn’t arrived when I posted mine.

    Off-hand, I can’t think of a better measure, or a gauge of sponsorship, than club memberships. Obviously those numbers include country and interstate members who don’t usually attend home matches, but all clubs factor that in.

    Adelaide always seem to get a full house – or almost. But you’re winning, and perhaps that was my point in the article. Everyone loves a winner and success!

  17. It is a worry in that as soon as the pies copped some of the poor time slots late,Sunday games etc last year the crowds dropped alarmingly like wise the tigers crowds have dropped off but it seems like the vic footy follower absolute loyalty in going every week has dropped off and that,SA in particular and to a slightly lesser extent wa and then the swans are carrying the afl ( I no I am generalizing ) but what ever the crowd on friday night was diabolical

  18. Jan, had Collingwood’s season still been alive there would have perhaps been 25-30K tops.

    All things considered I predicted a crowd of 20k – I underestimated by 320! (still 1000+ more than a Sydney home final a few years back, and there were valid reasons for that too).

    Sadly, had more South fans been as committed as you Jan they might still be in Melbourne.

    Of course winning forgives various inconveniences, discomforts and impositions. But there’s more to it than that. I recommend reading Rohan Connelly’s piece in today’s Age which provides a bit more context. Things have changed, a lot, and even the most passionate supporters of all clubs have been weened off the live experience.

    If there’s any shame to be attached it’s on certain administrators whose self interest ripped much of the heart out of the game and turned it into a TV sport.

  19. jan courtin says

    Thanks Malcolm and JD
    I concur with your comments.

    First thing every morning I log into the Swans, The Age, The Guardian and the AFL for footy news (nothing here in Sydney). Oops, I forgot the Almanac! So, I had already read Rohan’s article in the Age JD. Quite depressing really!

    Of course things change; I welcome it. It is vital to our survival, positive or otherwise, and should be embraced a such. But, for me, when it comes to passion for a footy team, nothing changes!

    Maybe it’s my generation (ie age!), but as long as there is a red and white AFL footy team running around busting their guts to achieve team success, then I’ll be right there with them, on the other side of the fence.

  20. Dave Nadel says

    Thanks for the cheap shot, Jan. South Melbourne had the smallest supporter base in the VFL. That is why the VFL was able to hijack them to Sydney (that, and the failure of some South officials to stand up for their members). In Sydney, the Swans had fairly poor attendance until recent years. Even now I suspect that the relatively small Sydney supporter base is the real reason that they would rather play at the SCG than the much larger Homebush.

    Collingwood has consistently had the largest attendances in the VFL/AFL for at least at 100 years. Friday’s poor attendance would not have been remarked upon had it not involved Collingwood or Carlton. As someone who did attend on Friday may I make the following observations.

    1. There is a lot more hostility to McGuire among Collingwood supporters than you (or Phil in his response) give credit to. However Eddie the Mouth is not the club and the intelligent response is to vote him out as President not boycott the match and deny our players support.

    2. When Sydney supporters braved the weather to watch the Sydney “derby” they were watching a good game against a team that is playing very attractive football. Fremantle under Lyon was ugly to watch even when they were playing well. Now Pavlich is declining and Sandilands and Fyffe are out injured you can understand why some people might prefer to avoid watching them in what was truly awful weather.

    3. The statistic that this was the worst Collingwood crowd at the MCG since 1940 is completely misleading. Prior to the 1990s the only home and away games that the Pies played on the MCG were against Melbourne. You would expect larger crowds at Finals. Even in the 90s Collingwood played its games against non-Victorian sides at Victoria Park so there would have been a few matches with very few opposing fans and therefore low attendance figures in the 90s.

    I am glad I went and froze my **** off on Friday night but I think that those who watched the game on TV have nothing to feel ashamed about. Collingwood does have to do something about Eddie and we also need to look at the current playing list but we do not need lectures from supporters of teams with a long history of failure (1933-2005) and (until recently) a minuscule supporter base.

  21. jan courtin says

    You’ve gone to a lot of trouble, Dave, to make a point or two. Thanks

    Your point 1: Agreed
    Point 2: Sorry, your error. The weather against GWS was beautiful. The bad weather I spoke about in the article was against Melbourne.

    Point 3: My article only spoke about this particular game on Friday night, as have other reports in the media, not about Victoria Park games, or other comparisons.

    Last para: I am also glad that you went and froze you **** off on Friday night. Congratulations!

    It’s interesting that a couple of you Collingwood guys chose to use the word lecture. They are your words, not mine.

    And, lastly, I don’t need to be told South Melbourne/Sydney Swans history. I think I might just know more about that than any Collingwood supporter!


  22. The Wrap says

    Maybe the climate is going to be a challenge for night games. Climate warming is only part of climate change challenge. Winters are showing every sign of becoming colder. Last Winter in The World’s Most Liveable City was bad enough. This year we’re talking snow at sea level. Forget the night games and let’s keep a bit of CO2 buried away in the Hunter & Latrobe Valleys.

  23. jan courtin says

    I agree Wrap, but according to others, the crowds aren’t going to turn up whether it day or night, fine or otherwise.

    It looks as if there’s no hope!


  24. Rulebook says

    Geez I am going in to bat for,Jan how many times have we all heard over the years of pies fans loyalty that we can pull a crowd any time any venue well no you can’t ! While we hear fans from all clubs say we don’t like dock lands for various reasons surely night games in the hear of winter makes sense.

  25. kath presdee says

    Coming from someone who supports a team that is lucky to get more than 10,000 people to its home games on a regular basis, I’m in no position to comment on crowd numbers or the faithfulness or otherwise of the supporters of the Melbourne clubs braving all weathers to support their team.

    However I do want to point out that if you’re going to bag new teams for their attendances and say that they’re a blight on the game etc and then fail to support your own, then I reserve the right to tell you to shove it; whether you’re the President of the Club or an idiot posting on Big Footy. (I don’t include the Knackers in this bagging – those who can attend generally do, no matter how their team is travelling)

    And a genuine question from me (which was also triggered by Rohan Connolly’s article) – what sort of ticket prices are people dealing with to go to “nothing” games with limited interest? I understand what my membership package gets me, but what does a Collingwood membership get an ordinary punter? What about an Essendon membership (or any of those at Ethihad)? I read all about variable ticketing and the like but if you’ve got 70-80 k members, how many have actually paid for seats and are committed to attending games?

    Jan – I also have to note that going to the SCG if you’re not a member and you want a seat is not exactly a cheap night out. I assume it is similar for Spotless for Swans fans.

  26. jan courtin says

    Thanks Malcolm.

    My previous reply (above) to Wrap, seems to be the best reply to you as well!

    “…… according to others, the crowds aren’t going to turn up whether it’s day or night, fine or otherwise.
    It looks as if there’s no hope!” Ad you can add “under a roof” to that.

  27. jan courtin says

    Thanks for your interesting comment Kath

    I know what we pay for our memberships and what we get from them, but those aspects are almost secondary – memberships help the team and the club, and are therefore important.

    Yes, prices to get to games, unless you’re a member, can become quite an expense – but that’s obviously relative. I’ve looked at overall pricing at all AFL grounds around the country, and they vary for adults from $25 to $75 (Blundstone Arena in Tassie being the most expensive, just pipping the SCG). And grounds such as Domain in Perth, Adelaide Oval, Geelong and Sydney create problems for the person just wanting to attend a game, as fewer seats are available to the public – most are taken by members.

    However, when you consider the prices of other entertainment these days, and considering all teams play just 11 weeks of the year at their home grounds, I don’t think going to the footy is over the top (unless one’s circumstances are dire).

    More importantly, your reference to the attitudes of some towards the “new teams” is pertinent. Because the “new teams” all happen to be in the north, Victorians, South Australians and West Australians still don’t really get it.

    Unless they have actually lived in NSW and/or Queensland, they just don’t understand what a battle it is to not only get the rugby oriented people to develop interest in our game, but to actually sustain that interest and support. For heaven’s sake, I’m still getting “Did St George win” questions on our way back home from our games – and the Swans have been in Sydney for 34 years! It will continue to be a struggle in the northern states, and membership numbers and support will never match those of the “real footy” states – for some time anyway!

    As I said in this article, bums on seats are absolutely vital to success – most especially in Sydney and Brisbane – and even though the Giants are now regarded as a top team, the 10,000 attendance in the most important part of rugby league Western Sydney territory will surely increase over the years as, hopefully, success eventuates.

    Good luck

  28. Dave Nadel says

    Jan, sorry if my original response to you was unnecessarily aggressive but I have had a gutful this week. Both of supporters of other clubs bagging Collingwood for McGuire’s buffoonery (and racism and sexism) and also from a minority of Magpie supporters defending the buffoon because they see him as one of their own even though they themselves would not have said what Eddie said.

    You yourself referred (wrongly) to the lowest black and white crowd since 1940. It wasn’t, it was the lowest MCG crowd which has a slightly different meaning to that which you gave it. My bad about the weather at specific Sydney games but it doesn’t change my point about Lyon’s Dockers. Melbourne may not be as attractive to watch as GWS but I would be prepared to pay more money to see Max Gawn, Jesse Hogan and Bernie Vince than anyone playing in white and purple last Friday.

    I am sure that I wasn’t telling you anything that you didn’t know about the Swans but as I did a PhD. about the VFL/AFL between 1975 and 1996 I do know quite a lot about the Swans in the period.

  29. jan courtin says

    Thanks Dave. You’re definitely correct in that I didn’t actually say at the MCG – even though that’s what I meant – I suppose I assumed it would be implied.

    Well, you no doubt know more about South Melb/Sydney Swans than any other Collingwood person, and maybe – just only maybe – more than I do!

    Enjoy your week!

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