Round 16 – Greater Western Sydney v Collingwood: While I was sleeping



Expectations weren’t high for this game. With no free to air coverage and no Foxtel I thought I might do the codgerly thing and listen to the game on the wireless.


I was up at the crack of dawn clearing our sun room cum-living room for the carpet layers and tilers. One doesn’t realise just how much crap piles up over the years, in my case so many footy books, DVDs and CDs. I even summoned up the courage to throw away my VCR copy of the 1990 Grand Final, which had been viewed something like 847 times between the two decades that separated the Pie flags.


“Time to embrace a new century”, according to my daughter Anastasia and watch the game through live-streaming.


Yeah, nah…not yet.


Instead, I tuned in to Gerard and ‘Sellers’ had a lie down and settled in to the welcome possibility of a well-earned snooze should the Pies start to get flogged.


The first quarter went to plan and as GWS kept getting clearance after clearance out of the centre my interest and my consciousness began to wane. I dozed off right on quarter-time and from what Dina tells me, my nostrils were flaring more than Gerard’s as I snored my way through the second and third quarters.


At three-quarter-time I’m awoken by a genuinely excited Anastasia who informs me that we are 42 points up. Surely it was a dream?


Clokey is dominating, Adams is destroying them in the clearances, Grundy is beating Mumford in the ruck and the always fairly maligned Jesse White has kicked three goals! The inner child has shaken up the curmudgeonly codger and I’m wide awake with new-found optimism and genuinely child-like joy. This is a good feeling.


Before the game I was determined to write something negative about GWS and the carefully constructed, but ultimately futile push into the AFL’s symbolic equivalent of Stalingrad – Western Sydney. I mean, would the NRL create a second League team in St Albans or Sunshine?


Thoughts of Rocky IV were running through my head as I was picturing Rocky take on Ivan Drago without the fictional ending. At quarter time the Giants were channeling their inner Drago, four goals up and ready for the kill:


“If they die, they die.”


Not so fast cyborgs.


A feature of the Rocky movies was the protagonist’s ability to take punishment until he yelled “Yo Adrian!” and found the reserves to defeat his more heavily fancied opponent. Deluded Greek and Italian boys were given inspiration to take on bullies twice their size on the back of Rocky’s fictional heroics. It usually didn’t end well for them, however, when they found that the only thing they shared in common with the ‘Stallion’ was the size of their vocabulary.


Having said that, today was the classic Collingwood underdog victory. Few seriously considered that the Pies would be any chance against the rapidly-rising franchise.


“They must break us?” Not today AFL sanctioned gerrymandered upstarts.


The Magpies had one of their strongest teams on paper, but the form from the Fremantle and Carlton victories gave little indication that they would even get withing five goals of GWS.


Choosing to go with just one ruckman in Grundy and allowing space for two extra running players has made an enormous difference. As good as Cox has been, he struggles to defend on the break and this is where Collingwood has been getting towelled up for the last couple of years. Subsequently our defence looks organised and protected once the opposition has possession. It allows Reid and Howe the freedom to play attacking footy from the backline and control the switch with much more purpose and authority.


Having Adams play the Luke Ball role also frees up Pendles, Sidebottom, Treloar to focus on delivering the ball forward rather than having to get in and under. Hence, Clokey, White, Moore and Fasolo benefit and can lead and hit the scoreboard with greater confidence.


Then again, footy is a simple game to analyse when you wake up to a win.



Malarkey Medal Votes


3 – Taylor Adams


2 – Travis Cloke


1 – Brodie Grundy


GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY   7.2   9.4    11.7   14.9 (93)
COLLINGWOOD                           3.2   12.4   18.7  19.11 (125)

Greater Western Sydney:
 Cameron 5, Patton 3, Kelly 2, Ward, Shiel, Lobb, Johnson
Collingwood: Cloke 4, White 3, Blair 2, Fasolo 2, Varcoe, Aish, Adams, Smith, Macaffer, Sinclair, Sidebottom, Grundy

Greater Western Sydney:
 Coniglio, Cameron, Haynes, Kelly, Mumford
Collingwood: Grundy, Adams, Cloke, Sidebottom, Treloar, Howe, Pendlebury

Greater Western Sydney:
Collingwood: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Foot, Fisher, Stevic

Official crowd: 13,483 at Spotless Stadium





About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. you may have the relish of saying you cost someone the flag. Bad bad loss to the Giants. Gonna cost them top 4 according to my 100th go on the Predictor.

    Sounds like the Pies found a leg away from the MCG and the Melbourne pressure cooker. Maybe they should play some home games at Spotless?

  2. E.regnans says

    A sneaky Saturday arvo nap is fine preparation, Phil.
    Especially so with the explosion of European summer sports events just now.

    Good to see Tay-Tay back.
    Good to see a bit of swarming again.
    And T Cloke running and leaping with purpose.
    A lot to like. Go Rocky.

  3. DBalassone says

    Great write up Mr Dimitriadis. What is it about Rocky Balboa and Italians? Even I, the most un-Italian Italian in Melbourne felt a connection, and owned that Adidas top with the red, white and green colours.

    You know my thoughts on the Cloke situation – I still maintain he was never playing anywhere near as bad as what the media/club wanted us to believe – and it was just a matter of time before he played a rip snorter Despite all the pain this season, a few things have gone right e.g. Treloar in the middle, Reid and Howe across half back, Grundy’s maturity, even Sinclair is starting to look dangerous with his run.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Phil, I hope you get a chance to watch the second and third quarters. Beautiful football.
    The AFM Jesse White was great. Regular VFL stints seem to do him well. I’d drop him this week…
    Very happy for T.Cloke.

  5. Danielle says

    Grundy tho… #yesyesyes

  6. A bit like you Phil I didn’t / couldn’t watch. If I can’t be there I don’t want to know. The backyard received some overdue TLC instead. What a pleasant surprise when I dared turn on my phone at 4.20pm!

    Watched the 1st half replay and I’d contend the 2nd quarter was Collingwood’s best under Buckley’s reign. Unbelievable stuff.

    Is it between the ears? In part, but it was also the closest CFC has come to fielding its best team with only 2-3 out now.

    Hopefully they can back it up Phil, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Very happy for Trav too.

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Peter – GWS are building, but I don’t think we cost them a flag. Top 4 maybe. I think you’re right about the pressure cooker. 4 home games at Spotless might draw a few more than the GWS renta-crowders. What a sterile atmosphere ffs..

    ER, we have got personnel back and Varcoe, Adams and the Caff provide much needed leadership/direction and strong tackling. Grundy’s game was a revelation. The Giant is awakening and he feels so much more assured when he has to take responsibility in the ruck. Huge effort against class opposition.

    I think this clip from Eddie Murphy’s ‘Raw’ explains the Rocky and the Italians perfectly. “The Realism” :
    I agree Cloke wasn’t as bad as made out, but maybe he needed to be reminded that he is not indispensable. Liked Macaffer’s game on Heath Shaw as a defensive forward. Great move by Bucks.

    Luke, AFM White !! WTF? Watched the game just now. 2nd and 3rd quarters a glimpse of what we are capable of as shown against Geelong and for 3 qtrs against the Bulldogs. Like Marsh for Frost, tougher, steadier and more creative.

    Danni – Grundy – Fasy Boy X factors. We lift as a team when they play well. Blair is still shit, though.

    JD, Second half of the second quarter was sublime footy; tough, creative, play-on, good decision making – confident. Between the ears? Jack Dyer said “half the game is 90% mental”. True to a degree, but having an almost full-strength team in doesn’t hurt either. One of the best under Buckley and probably the best since 2013 for sure. If we can knock off Adelaide the bandwagon might start to get rolling again. Look out !!

  8. Phil – I think not having you, JD and 40,000 other Magpie lunatics spitting bile at their every mistake gave the boys a big lift. More away games would doubtless lift Collingwood a lot. Still the AFL and Eddie need the money.
    Hope you will be at the Eagles game in 3 weeks time. Affords us a 4 goal start.

  9. Alex Docherty says

    Fantastic piece Phil.

    Even though I’m not enthusiastic about Collingwood (Who is when you don’t support them?), It certainly took great pleasure in watching them destroy the AFL’s precious little team of misfits.

    I said it when he got drafted, and I’ll say it again: Brodie Grundy is going to be a star when it’s all said and done, was absolutely stunned when he got drafted so late.

  10. Dave Nadel says

    I travelled half way across the continent in the wrong direction to watch this game. We are on holidays in Broome and I insisted on booking a place which had Fox Footy.

    Best Magpie game of the year so far. You should have watched the second and third quarters live, Phil. They were magic!

    Although Grundy won us the match (I would have given him three votes) this match also showed how important an in-form Cloke is to Collingwood. Darcy Moore is going to be great, Jesse played a fine game on Saturday, I love the big Texan and the romance of his arrival at Collingwood but there is only one Travis Cloke and he turns games.

    Incidentally, I think that you are wrong about Blair. His game on Saturday was full of merit and I think that he has been playing reasonably well all year. He is not intended to be our first small forward but injuries to Fasolo, Elliott and Broomhead have forced him into the role. Have a look at Blair’s statistics for tackles over the whole season to understand his role on the forward line.

  11. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    PB, Tis the spittle and venom from the likes of myself and JD that keep the Pies from descending into premature hubris. They have a history. Someone has to keep them honest.

    Alex – Yes, a certain satisfaction in outplaying the worst idea for a football club since the ‘Collingwood Warriors’. GWS will win a flag or two over the next 5 years and then be forgotten, thankfully.

    Dave – Along with the players you mentioned, I like the development of Marsh, Maynard and Smith. Sinclair and De Goey are also finding some confidence, which is good for our depth.

    Can’t agree with you about Blair. I watched the replay and apart from his goal he gave away frees, turned the ball over, displayed tunnel vision, went for marks when he should be crumbing, can’t kick, is too slow and against the better sides his decision making is abominable. Nothing against the lad personally, but he is not in our best 22. Very ordinary footballer, but good luck to him for continuing to get a game.

  12. Ha ha, Phil. An AFL team from Sunshine.
    Playing at the Skinner Reserve.
    The possibilities are endless.

  13. DBalassone says

    Thanks for the Eddie Murphy link Phil. If I recall correctly, Eddie also does a very funny Mr T. routine around that time. Strangely enough, Stallone’s mother is Russian-Jewish by the way – I bet not many people were aware of that when they were watching Balboa take on the might of the Soviet Union in Rocky IV.

    Speaking of fiction, what did you make of the Barracuda adaptation?

  14. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Ah Smokie,
    Imagine the cheerleaders and fireworks NRL style going off to a crowd of 200 people at Skinner Reserve? Something similar may await GWS in a few years, once the novelty wears of and the resentment of others really kicks in.

    Damo, I didn’t know that about Jackie Stallone. There you go. Just when you think you’re certain about your ethnicity…

    Enjoyed first episode of Barracuda. Prefer more dialogue rather than drawn-out swimming based meditations in the novel, which I found a little draining after a while (pardon the pun). Looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Interesting take with the father being Anglo/Wog Mother and Dino a wog name exhibiting fairly woggish traits. A cautionary tale about ethnic mums perhaps? What did you think?

  15. DBalassone says

    I haven’t read the book, but recall discussing it with you at TFA launch in 2013. Really enjoyed watching it too – having taught at Xavier a few years back, I recognised quite a few of the locations. Afterwards, I’m not sure how, but I jumped onto iview and watch the remaining 3 episodes. Some amazing scenes.

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