Round 15 – Carlton v Collingwood: A Classic Dud

Carlton v Collingwood Round 15 2016-07-03

By Mark Browning


I’m starting to wonder if there is a rhythm to selecting which AFL games you choose to attend.


I say that because I feel I am certainly out of sync. Having already had the Essendon v Geelong yawn fest inflicted upon me, I have now had to sit through another dirge of the century between Carlton and Collingwood.


What adds to the son of Sylvester the Cat style seeping depression I am suffering is that it was my first ever clash between the great traditional rivals and the fixtures either side of this mess were the modern clinker between the Swans and Dogs and the next day, the free scoring fluctuating Demons and Crows.


My mate from Mt Gambier, a man Blues to the bone, invited me to the clash and I accepted on the pretext that because they were playing Collingwood it would be one of the few times I could go to a match with him and actively support the Blues.


Plus my collection of Grand Final videos and other recorded delights involves a host of historic genuinely exciting clashes between Carlton and Collingwood. So what if it was 13th v 14th, as long as it was a reasonably open and skilful game I would have fun.


Mt Gambier Craig was very excited about the promotion of SOSOS Silvani and when the wisp of a lad took a very nice contested mark 20 metres out in the first quarter, he let out a high pitched squeal that would have done Ned Flanders proud.


In fact I enjoyed the whole of the first quarter. It had a bit of flow to it, the lead changed hands a few times and each side scored three goals. With Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Varcoe perhaps a little more polished in their ball use than anyone else Collingwood just about deserved their two point quarter time lead.


I clearly remember I said at the first changeover, ‘I enjoyed that.’ I did. I said that.


So did someone hear me and relay a message out on the field, “There’s a Cats supporter in the stands and he said he was enjoying a Carlton v Collingwood match. We’d better put and end to that, right now!”


Because within minutes of the resumption you could tell something had changed. At first you don’t worry about it. Initially it just seems like another phase of the game. They players aren’t breaking away so easily. They are missing their targets more frequently. They are making the wrong decisions. Oh well, it will change and open up again soon.


It didn’t.


I didn’t even bother to check if both coaches were ensuring they had more players behind the ball all the time. Hardly a player on that ground had the skill set to cut through the defensive walls in front of them with any effectiveness.


Slowly, excruciatingly, Collingwood built a bit of a lead over the next 75 minutes.


From quarter time Carlton almost had more serious injuries in the match than actual goals.


The crowd became more and more subdued. Quarters two and three barely went 25 minutes. That, in fact, was kind of a blessing.


Even in Level 4 of the MCG the sound of the players calling out and the thump of boot on leather could be heard.


I saw my first example at half time of ‘Oblivious Cam’ where patrons are timed and shown on the scoreboard for the number of seconds they don’t know the cameras are actually showing them up there. I felt the players in front of me were oblivious to the skills of the game they were playing professionally and the suffering they were inflicting on the 50 thousand plus crowd.


So were there any positives out of Collingwood’s eventual 8 goals to 6 win?


Jarryd Blair’s last quarter goal was quite nice. There was an occasional good defensive contested mark from the likes of Kade Simpson and Ben Reid. The umpiring didn’t favour anybody. Scott Pendlebury is class. A couple of young Silvani’s moves showed promise for 2017.


But descriptions of this game as dour, or scrappy, or ugly don’t do it justice. It was the lowest scoring game in this fixture for almost exactly 50 years and when Carlton won that 7:11 to 6:6 in 1966 the players had the excuse of it being a really wet Saturday.


But this was a comfortable dry night with no interference from a moderate wind. It deserved more negative adjectives than, dour, scrappy and ugly. It was also tedious, boring, unskilled, a turn off and a poor advertisement for a great game.


I am now taking advice as to how to alter my AFL attendance rhythms so that I am guaranteed a better sporting spectacle the next time I go to a match.


Which will be next weekend, of course.


CARLTON       3.3 4.6 4.8 6.9 (45)

COLLINGWOOD 3.5 5.5 7.8 8.9 (57)



CARLTON: Gibbs 2, Lamb, White, Wright, Phillips

COLLINGWOOD: Grundy 2, Blair 2, Moore, Pendlebury, Greenwood, Aish.



CARLTON: Simpson, Curnow, Lamb

COLLINGWOOD: Pendlebury, Reid, Sidebottom, Varcoe


VOTES: Pendlebury 3, Simpson2, Varcoe 1


UMPIRES: Foot, Dalgleish, Pannell, Mitchell


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