Round 16 – Collingwood v West Coast: Aberrations

What are the important things? In life? In a footy team? In a car?


We’re back at school a week now, following the holidays. And this morning, Saturday 18 July in Melbourne Town, the Lord’s Test is two days old (Australia 8d/566 (SPD Smith 215, CJL Rogers 173) v England 4/83). And while I’m aware that Collingwood lost narrowly to Port last week (after losses to Fremantle and Hawthorn), and West Coast won an emotional game over first-game-back Adelaide, my full sporting attention has been on the cricket.


Today I’m off to lunch at the Fitzroy Football Club. It’s Ladies Day. Why not? I aim to meet JT Harms there. Maybe others. I’d invited Nothofagus cunninghamii, my bride, mother of my children, but she’d declined. Today is her birthday. In setting this up, I’d learned it is also The Handicapper’s birthday. She, too, decided to be elsewhere for lunch.

Departing for the lunch (“Happy birthday, have a great day”), N.cunninghamii hands me a card and a wrapped gift.

“It’s for The Handicapper.”


On arrival, I hand it to JT Harms.

[Inside is written: “Not only do we have this birthday in common, but both of our life partners are at a footy club lunch. Happy birthday.”]

“That’s great. What year was NC born?”

It is one of those moments revealing the very fabric of space and time to be made of interwoven layers of meaning and luck.

“You’re kidding! They were born on EXACTLY THE SAME DAY.”

And so this lunch, right now, is exactly the right place to be.



Afterwards, I meet N.cunninghamii and the Buds in Fitzroy. It’s 2:30pm and we’re off to Northcote. But now the car doesn’t start. It’s an aberration. It will start.

But it doesn’t start.

And not again now.

And nor again just now.

I call for some roadside battery assistance.

“Should be there by 4:30pm, mate.”

We give up on our Northcote plans and adjourn to the North Fitzroy Arms. It’s a short walk in Fitzroy winter gloom, but we’re greeted by warmth, comfortable chairs, food and drink.

“Happy birthday.”



N.cunninghamii and the Buds take the tram home. I’m off to meet battery man.

It’s 4:30pm. It’s 5:00pm. I’m getting Collingwood-West Coast score updates via the phone. He calls. “I’ll be there soon.”

It’s 5:30pm. Darkness envelopes Fitzroy.

West Coast cast their own shadows over Collingwood. Today I rate Collingwood a good side, West Coast an up-and-coming side. But this, indoors at Docklands, has “danger game” written all over it. I saw N Naitanui and J Kennedy last year at the MCG; enormous. And T Cloke has gone down injured. The updates are looking grim.

Battery man arrives, and after a couple of seconds, says:

“It’s not your battery. It’s your starter motor. You need to get this towed to a mechanic.”





I leave our one and only car sitting bereft in the street.

I’m walking across to the tram.


On the tram.

I’m walking home.

And I return, without our one and only car.

“Dad, where’s the car?”

“Collingwood are losing to West Coast.”

“But where’s the car?”

“Happy birthday, NC.”

“Where’s the car?”



Buds are in bed.

We’ve enjoyed a broken sort of a birthday dinner.

Collingwood have lost again (4-in-a-row), or have West Coast won?

Ahh well, it’s all an aberration. Collingwood will be back on track soon. Just like the Australian cricket team bouncing back from Cardiff. Collingwood and Australia, both, will be alright.



We’re finishing up. A text message appears from The Handicapper.

“Hi, thanks so much for the lovely gift, I share your sentiments. Did you make your own birthday cake too? Happy birthday.”

And now we’re laughing.



COLLINGWOOD    1.4   4.6    7.9     7.14 (56)
WEST COAST        2.6   4.10  7.16   11.21 (87)

Collingwood: Fasolo 2, Blair, Grundy, Witts, Sidebottom, Swan
West Coast: Kennedy 3, LeCras 3, Cripps 2, Hill, Naitanui, Masten

Collingwood: Sidebottom, Crisp, Williams, Varcoe, Pendlebury, Oxley
West Coast: Gaff, Masten, LeCras, Priddis, Rosa, Hurn

Collingwood: Cloke (calf)
West Coast: McGovern (hamstring), Hill (shoulder)

Reports: Jarrod Witts was reported for tripping Matt Priddis in the last quarter

Umpires: Stephens, Nicholls, Jeffery

Official crowd: 36,527 at Etihad Stadium



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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. I liked this one a lot. Particularly the happy ending (depends on your perspective I guess).
    Well played NCH and SH – Ruth is stranger than Richard..

  2. G’day PB.
    Thanks – truly a happy ending.
    Though there was a somewhat difficult post-script; negotiating with a tow-truck operator on a Monday morning while having three other places to be.

    I didn’t spot your Eagles as Grand Finalists back then.
    Mind you, it was only three weeks or so since I’d argued for a Collingwood flag.
    I have the proven prediction record of a financial planner.

    Well played certainly to those two. Good call.

  3. Keiran Croker says

    Great yarn ER. Will definitely see you at a few Fitzroy lunches in 2016!

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