Round 18 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: Stumbling block

Collingwood FC, 2016 campaign, is finished.
It was, and remains, a strange drive on a foggy highway.
Moments of clarity, moments of perplexity.

Collingwood FC 2016 is the amateur golfer stepping up to the tee.
Maybe one shot in 8 is a sweet, sweet connection. Fuelling dreams of “what if..” Or, more intoxicatingly, of “when…”
“It’s a matter of time. It will come together…”
But the rest of them are shanked, hooked, duffed, topped, inexplicably sprayed.
No amount of “but-I-creamed-the-last-one…”-protesting can disguise the scorecard.

Signs on the clubhouse walls say: “To master any opponent, you first must master yourself.”
And other such mysticisms.
Collingwood FC 2016 scanned these signs on the way the 1st tee, as he pulled out his phone, checking Instagram.
But they’ve made no difference.
“Load of crap.”
And now CollingwoodFC, beaten again, walks off the Round 18 green: “What’s wrong with me?”
“Another brain explosion. I’ve trained so much; so hard.”
“What a cock-up….  Pfffff.  If I had the balls, I’d wrap this thing up in plastic and call it art.”

He slumps on a low bench seat; checks Snapchat; stares deep into a mirror-smooth reflecting pond.
“And I’ve got good stats.”

“What’s wrong with me?”

From apparently inside the pond, the gender-reversed reflection answers, as is the way on fantasy golf courses the world over.
“Collingwood FC,” the reflection says. “All pieces of the puzzle are present.”
“It’s in your mind,” she says. “It’s within you.”

And as Paul Kelly and the Stormwater Boys move into frame, as is the way in fantasy stories the Middle Earth over, CollingwoodFC starts to sing:



I can’t get around it and I can’t get through it
I can’t go over it and I can’t go under it
I’m scared of what I might find if I ever get behind it
Stumbling block, stumbling block, stumbling block.

If I wait a while it just might go away
I suppose I should just get down on my knees and pray
I’m sure if I could get just one good night’s sleep it’ll look better in the day
Stumbling block, stumbling block, stumbling block
Maybe I should pay someone to come here and remove it
Or I could just chip away at it bit by little bit
I guess I could build me a bomb and blow it up in one big hit
Stumbling block, stumbling block, stumbling block.

Some of my friends say I should call in the mystics
Or find me a philosopher to come here and tell me it don’t exist
Then there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is
Stumbling block, stumbling block, stumbling block
If I ever get done with this I’m gonna make a brand new start
I gotta get my thinking straight and put the horse before the cart
If I had the balls I’d wrap this thing up in plastic and call it art!
Stumbling block, stumbling block, stumbling block.

I’m gonna call up every TV station
Maybe the museum of science is looking for a special donation
I could sell tickets and take it on tour all around the whole goddamn nation
Stumbling block, stumbling block, stumbling block
It’s in your mind, she says, it’s within you
She likes saying stuff like that, I got a problem if it’s true
If you can’t get rid of what’s inside you it’s bound to destroy you!
Stumbling block, stumbling, block, stumbling block.



COLLINGWOOD              2.2    4.4    10.7    12.12 (84)                       to 12th spot on the ladder (7 wins)
NORTH MELBOURNE     6.5  10.7   14.10  18.16 (124)                    to 8th spot on the ladder (11 wins)



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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 is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their 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. Rulebook says

    Very clever,OBP well played

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Watching Collingwood in 2016 is very much like playing golf or cricket. You smash that shot off the tee/cover drive and it feels wonderful. Keeps you coming back. Just like a Grundy goal with 4 seconds left or a piece of Sidebottom magic. You think it will occur much more regularly next year if you stick at it. Yet there’s the Maynard horrible kick-ins, the nicks to first slip, the shanks off the tee to remind you of the realities of sport.
    I’m full of hope for 2017. Go pies.

  3. E.regnans says

    Thanks OBP & Luke.

    Good call, Luke, Park cricket the same.
    When it all clicks, it appears almost “how good is this?” effortless.
    As if there’s a new career for the taking.

    Those cover drives and tee shots keep us coming back for more.
    “Hope”? Probably, “Self-Deception?” Probably.
    But that’s what we do.
    Go pies.

  4. Earl O'Neill says

    Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of football success.

  5. E.regnans says

    Ahh, come aboard, Earl.

    Let’s see where it goes.

  6. Excellent, e.r. Wrap it in plastic and call it art indeed!

    I saw PK and the Stormwater Boys on their Foggy Highway tour. Somewhere in the city (pardon the pun) but I can’t remember the venue. I also remember the wonderful support act: a young female singer of whom I had never heard by the name of C Bowditch.

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