Round 18 – Collingwood v Carlton: Football in the Time of Covid

When my grandson Luca was born, I applied for membership of the illustrious Melbourne Cricket Club and now, after only eighteen years, my number along with those of my son and Luca, has come up.


We paid up just as Covid19 closed the season; the MCC kindly reduced the fee to a mere half-fortune.


As time went by, matches returned to the ‘G and we were allowed, after buying tickets on-line  – not merely flashing the magic membership card at the turnstile – to sit high up in the holy of holies. What luxury!


We went along, full of hope when Carlton played Geelong just ten days ago, more bullish than we might have been had not both Selwood and Dalhaus been ‘managed’ and that big Cameron bloke been injured. Our season was on the line but we could win this.


We were wrong! I doubt I’ve ever seen Carlton play worse. The game was a farcical exhibition of skill errors on both sides with each gaining possession just to enable them to return the ball to the opposition. I’m a phlegmatic man under normal circumstances and my grandson had never before heard me cry out in such anguish nor seen me hold my head in such frustration. The Guardian talked about Carlton ‘kicking inaccurately when they had the ascendancy early.’ You can say that again!


But at least we watched in the bosom of the Club and the doughnuts and hot chocolate in the uncrowded refreshment area at halftime were of rare quality.


We lamented the season was now over as we travelled home midway through the final term. Yet worse was to come!


By Tuesday, I’d had the first indication from the Club that as I was sitting in the Members, I was a Tier 3 contact of a Covid suspect. I was confused: I was on Level 4 not Tier 3. Then, next day, I was upgraded to Tier 2 and the penny dropped. I needed to get a Covid test and isolate until cleared.


As if watching Carlton in that bleak and awful day wasn’t punishment enough!


I Googled the Covid testing sites: six hours wait at St Vincent’s, four at Royal Melbourne. I got a tip-off about a quick turnaround in Fairfield and, after only two hours, I was tickled up the nose, swabbed down the throat and on my way home. There’d barely been enough time to finish the diabolical DA’s cryptic in The Age!


The all-clear came through 36 hours later, in time to contemplate another trip to the MCG to see the Blues play the Old Enemy except that. by now, the State was in lockdown and the MCG a lock-out.


The Carlton/Collingwood went ahead without me. As always, the Blues started poorly. Grundy was dominant in the ruck, Cripps was absent and, apart from Weitering, the backline was struggling. For three quarters we just kept in touch till as Collingwood coach Robert Harvey put it, ‘the dam burst’. Big Harry kicked four, Bettsy bobbed up for a couple, Walsh earned three more Brownlow votes and, Jack Silvagni, son of son of Serge, a warrior all day, marked, goaled and acknowledged his grandpa no doubt smiling down from the Members in the Sky.


Hope, of course, springs eternal. Carlton are on the improve. Charlie Curnow is coming soon but we’ll keep the lid on it till next season when the Blues blossom again. By then, the Covid will be gone and me and son of me and son of son of me will be up on Level 4 in the Members paid up and ready for the next triumph.


COLLINGWOOD     3.2     6.4     9.5      9.8 (62)
                1.3     4.6     7.9    13.13 (91) 


Collingwood: Henry 3, Elliott, Hoskin-Elliott, Mihocek, Sidebottom, Cameron, Bianco
Carlton: McKay 4, Betts 2, Martin, Stocker, Silvagni, Kennedy, Williams, De Koning, Walsh 


Collingwood: Noble, Henry, Mayne, Crisp, De Goey
Carlton: Walsh, Kennedy, Dow, Martin, Stocker, Silvagni, McKay 


Collingwood: Thomas (concussion)
Carlton: Nil


Collingwood: Poulter (replaced Thomas)
Carlton: Fogarty (unused)


Crowd: 0 at the MCG



The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE


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  1. Peter Fuller says

    I feel your pain, Blueboy. The Blues scored an A for effort for most of the evening, but the inept execution was distressing.
    I was on Level 1 and went through the testing process as you did. It was easier for we regional dwellers. We require appointments, and I couldn’t be fitted in on Thursday, the day of the text. I was accommodated on Friday afternoon, although a half hour drive from home. The negative result arrived in less than 24 hours, but on the following day I received a text obliging an additional test. I arranged that close to home on Monday morning, and woke up to the news of all clear Tuesday morning. Five minutes maximum wait time for each test. It seems that you and I have both escaped with nothing more than enduring a dispiriting Carlton performance – relieved by that sparkling final quarter against Collingwood.
    I’m due for my 2nd vaccine dose on Saturday, so I’m feeling cautiously confident about my future.

  2. Merv Collins says

    Cheers, Peter. I reckon you’ve got a story yourself for the Almanac!

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