Round 15 – Carlton v Collingwood: Vote One Pies in Celebration of National Mediocrity

I have nothing left to say
But I’m gonna say it anyway
Thirty years upon a stage
And I hear the people say
Why won’t he go away?
Randy Newman – I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It)


Over the last two months, our nation has been captivated by a vital contest of ideas, fought between titanic figures on our national landscape…..


Oh who am I kidding? Even the central protagonists couldn’t swallow that merde.


What we have actually endured over the last two months has been a charade of manufactured difference, fought between two combatants who have studiously avoided any coherent and true discussion of the country we are, or might want to be. Such avoidance is crucial, lest either party accidentally spill the beans on a status quo which suits both perfectly well, allowing their own plummeting memberships to be compensated for by the public purse, maintaining the self-serving duopoly that currently passes for democracy. This has been mundanely reported by a mainstream media that conspicuously fails to admit its own role as significant beneficiary and enabler of that status quo.


During the week, it was suggested that the Carlton-Collingwood rivalry might be losing its relevancy. As the clubs concerned currently sat 13th and 14th on the ladder, and haven’t met in a final since 1988, this was hardly going out on a limb. Yet, after the public had performed its mandated duty to attend the day’s glorified sausage sizzle, 56,157 of them saw fit to skip the finale and attend the MCG; an attendance that was entirely voluntary. Our political parties would kill for such relevance.


It has to be said that the Blues and Pies turned on a spectacle entirely suited to the spirit of the times. Sideways movement was mistaken for forward progress. Difficult decisions were best deferred to someone else. A veneer of statistical efficiency was meant to pass for actual achievement. For large periods of the game, it appeared both teams were killing time, waiting for a fundament to appear in the centre of the ground so they could disappear up it.


The opening term had been slightly more promising. Collingwood began with a manic determination to play-on at all costs. They sought to take it up to Carlton by surging through the middle of the ground. Their problem was that only Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Treloar possessed the skills to consistently execute this plan. Every time one of their teammates went to pull the trigger, it was an open question whether they’d shoot themselves in the process. On the other hand, Carlton, like most of the Pies’ opponents this season, showed the potential to get out the back of the Collingwood zone with quick ball movement. The game seemed poised at the first break.


Poise is not an appropriate word for what subsequently transpired. Carlton became increasingly gun-shy, its ball movement grew static. This was in part a tribute to Collingwood’s pressure, as the Pies worked to get superior numbers to the ball for most of the night. But a spirit of daring was sorely lacking from Carlton’s approach. In previous wins, the Blues had found the resolve to reverse adverse trends in a game. Tonight they only offered hesitancy. Too often, they seemed content to dither, then dish it off to Simmo, hoping he’d sort it out. A Collingwood forward line burdened with Cloke, Cox and Moore screamed of a Carlton opportunity to run off and create, but the Blues just couldn’t come to the party.


Having said that, the Pies hardly ran away with proceedings. They were as prone as Carlton to mistake sideways crabbing for progress. They generated much uncontested possession, but rarely in areas that posed danger. If they hadn’t had Scott Pendlebury cruising through the congestion like an imperturbable Roll Royce, they might yet have blown the opportunity. Still, they will be pleased to sustain their effort for four quarters, consistency not being their hallmark this season.


Carlton romantics were, of course, focussed on the debut of Jack Silvagni. Jack even played to the nostalgists by wearing the family trademark long sleeves. He began brightly, setting up Jed Lamb for the game’s opening goal. But when he soon after had his own set shot, his miss was a warning of the anti-climax to come. In truth, he was Carlton’s most consistently lively forward on the night, which says all that need be stated about the rest. The Blues’ mindset was summed up late in the game when Silvagni marked twenty metres out, on a hardly impossible angle. Instead of kicking a goal to compensate the remaining fans, he passed off to Bryce Gibbs, and promptly ran to the interchange bench. It was entirely predictable that Gibbs should proceed to miss the shot.


Your correspondent made it home to Ballarat (retained by Catherine King) in time to catch Prime Minister FIGJAM’s querulous harangue. Once again, he felt obliged to address his own party when he should have been speaking to the nation. Should he be fortunate enough to stumble his way to some sort of majority, it was a stark demonstration of the hard slog that awaits. Carlton and Collingwood can’t claim to be substantially better placed.


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, Thomas, Docherty,
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Reid, Goldsack, Grundy, Greenwood, Brown


Official crowd: 56,157 at the MCG

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Fine write-up JB – I was on polling booth duties (16 hrs, breaks nominal) and missed the game but your analysis aligns with the replay I’m currently 4 wheel driving through.

    SOSOS looks like he’ll be a good player, it will be interesting to see in which position. Perhaps if the Blues had another tall up forward (Walker must be on his last legs) they might have been more inclined to risk going more direct.

    Only positive I could glean is Pies backline has tightened right up in recent weeks. It’s only a start but an important one.

  2. E.regnans says

    Love it JB.
    Clarity of mind and clarity of purpose.
    Along with thought, reason and adaptability.

    The Collective v the individual is an interesting contest in footy & politics just now. And in marketing. Electioneering. Is one Treloar worth three lesser but still significant team contributors who can run and hit a target?

    Role of cow-eyed media needs further illumination.

    Love the thinking & the writing.

  3. John Butler says

    JD, at least you got something out of the election, unlike Malcolm.

    I don’t know what the point of playing Levi is if we’re going to refuse to kick it to the occasional pack.

    SOSOS lost his nerve after that initial miss. Which put him in sync with the rest of the team. But he showed a bit.

    E Reg, don’t get me started. Although re-reading the above, I think I already got started.


  4. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Some cracking lines here: “Sideways movement was mistaken for forward progress. Difficult decisions were best deferred to someone else. A veneer of statistical efficiency was meant to pass for actual achievement.” Nailed it. There ought to be a plebiscite on the relevance of skills coaches.

    Glad I didn’t end up going. Waiting to see which tie Laurie Oakes wore next was marginally more intriguing and entertaining.

  5. John Butler says

    Phil, after the week you had, the game would have just been more aggravation. Though I presume you liked the ending?

  6. JB – love it. Your political and social analysis is better than your footy commentary. And that’s a compliment.
    Political scare campaigns are like Ross Lyon coaching – short term gain for long term pain.
    “Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” (Ambrose Bierce – The Devil’s Dictionary – 1906). Plus ce change……

  7. John Butler says

    PB, Malcolm will be praying he finds such furious agreement amongst the cross-benches.

    Good luck with that.

  8. Rulebook says

    JB superb appropriate and spot on to say the least

  9. Andrew Fithall says

    What? No mention of those now-dead Carlton faux supporters Menzies and Fraser let alone a tribute to that life-long paid-up Pie P Keating? I didn’t go to the game preferring to watch the schemozzle at home on the television. And occasionally turned it over to the football.

  10. John Butler says

    Cheers Rulebook. Very kind.

    AF, whatever else I may accuse them of, I don’t think you can call Menzies and Pant-less Mal faux Carlton supporters. Keating, on the other hand…..

    I think you judged the balance of entertainment possibilities perfectly on Saturday night. Much more slap-stick value in the pollies.

  11. Tony Robb says

    I actually enjoyed Saturday night. Then I turned over to the footy and become saddened by the ineptitude of both sides until realised I was still on the ABC.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Great writing John, the analogies are spot on.
    Style certainly lacking in both the political and football contests on Saturday night.

  13. John Butler says

    TR, the game fitted the night. Too well.

    Cheers Luke.

  14. Top article John. God 1988, it seems so far back. Carlton V collingwood finals clashes were par the course when i was young.

    1970, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1981, then of course 1988. Of course these two teams were regularly the match of the day. Jog my memory, did Jezza coach the victory at Victoria Park a week after Menzies fell off the twig ? I’m fairly sure Jezza replaced Stewie around the time Menzies died.

    PM FIGJAM, love it ! Where’s he going to end up ?


  15. In light of PM FIGJAM blaming the masses for not realising his unadulterated greatness makes me think of the adage ‘the people get the government they deserve’.

    And by extension, do supporters get the club administration they deserve? I’d like to think not.

    At Collingwood we’ve been trialling Gerry Harvey’s recommendation for a couple decades and it’s not going so well of late.

    In the words of Gough who could only afford a two-word slogan, ‘It’s Time’.

  16. John Butler says

    Glen, 19988 IS far back! You’ve got me thinking re Jezza. I’ll do some homework.

    Being a Collingwood story, I had to fit a FIGJAM in there somewhere. Where’s Malcolm ending up? To paraphrase Randy M, he’s gorn. He just hasn’t figured it out yet.

    JD, will you be leading the charge on the Bastille?

  17. John Butler says

    errr…. Randy N that should be. Would Randy M be something like Boney M?

  18. I’d like to JB but I’m afraid of being excommunicated or worse.

    A bit like the public interest politics, jaded football fans these days are more interested in apathy.

  19. Mic Rees says


    Carlton’s coaches 1978 were:

    Rounds 1-3 Stewie, Rounds 4-6 the original Silvagni, Rd 7 – 1979 GF Jezza.

    Carlton were in 11th spot, sporting a 1-5 record prior to Jezza’s appointment.


  20. John Butler says

    Whenever in doubt, just ask Mic Rees.

    Cheers Mic

  21. Mic Rees says

    My pleasure John.

    Keep the faith.


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