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Round 20 – Sydney v Collingwood: The goal Tom McCartin will never forget!

Sydney v Collingwood

7:25PM, Saturday August 4





Apart from the obvious reasons, given the ladder as it is, with only three games remaining in this home and away season, it is just so unbelievably satisfying to beat Collingwood. Anytime, anywhere!



Collingwood, that mighty behemoth of a club, that for more than a century has been at the forefront of all things football. Collingwood, one of the four clubs that dominated the VFL, along with the other big three: Richmond, Essendon and Carlton. And Collingwood, that club that all other supporters simply love to “hate”.



My Collingwood memories go way back.



My first game as a four year old was against them. We lost that, back in 1948.



My mother barracked for them, despite her uncle, Jim Caldwell, being a Bloods player and captaining our South premiership winning 1918 team. (She never explained why she barracked for that mob!).



The first banner that was hung over the fence behind the goals at Lake Oval in South Melbourne, back in 1960, was at a game against them. My siblings and I sat up most of the Friday night cutting out and sewing BOBBY SKILTON, in red plastic letters, onto a piece of canvas. It was a work of love. We won the match (which no-one believed we would), jumped the fence to greet our heroes, and when returning to collect our banner, it had gone. Stolen by Collingwood supporters (I’ve always assumed).



The only game I have missed at the SCG since moving to Sydney in 1998, was against them the following year. It also happened to be one of the most important games that year, with Plugger breaking the record for the highest number of goals kicked in VFL/AFL history. My aunt, who took me to my first game, was a South diehard, but her death in June 1999, with the funeral on the Friday before our game the next day, meant I missed the all-important day.



Back in the days when all you had to do was line-up at the MCG for a couple of nights prior to the finals to get a ticket, I was there for all those Collingwood finals back in the 50s and 60s against Geelong and Melbourne. And, I witnessed the historic Ray Gabelich run, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce and goal in the 1964 Grand Final.



Walking to our seats on Saturday night, my thoughts are not with Collingwood, but with my own team. Could we come back from our previous weeks of not-so-good footy? Could we, on this night when Alex Johnson is to celebrate his remarkable return to the game, be inspired by his six years of courage and tenacity? Could we, on this night, when we are celebrating the 100th year of our 1918 Premiership win, be inspired by the deeds of our former champions? And could we, if we can win tonight, ease our way towards our 20th Finals appearance in the past 23 years?



Three hours later, on a balmy, still, Saturday evening, with the final siren ringing around the SCG, my hopes had been answered.



Tonight proved that one good, dominant quarter can win a game of footy. It also proved that one freakish goal, from an 18 year old, can also win a game of footy!



The third quarter did it for us. After an even first term, with a five point difference at quarter time, Collingwood added a couple of late goals before half time, to lead by 17 points at the main break. I was slightly nervous.



The make or break quarter followed. With Buddy on fire, he adds a further two to his three in the first term; Jordan Dawson kicks his second for the match; Joey and Ronks kick truly from brilliant passes from Buddy, and the rest of team is gelling once again. Our 5.2 to their 0.3 tells a story.



My recollections of the last couple of games come bouncing back. Surely, this time, we can go on with it, surely this last quarter will be vastly different to the Suns and Essendon debacles! Surely?



The loudest roar of the night has us simultaneously rising as one! Buddy has run onto a Keiren Jack pass, evading three opponents, picking up the ball, snapping around his body 30 metres out, and goals! The SCG is electric. We want more.



We’re three goals up. But most of the quarter is yet to be played.



For the next 15 minutes, we’re unable to get the ball out of their forward line. They pepper the goals, but miss. With five or so minutes left, Hoskin-Elliot kicks a goal, for an eight point difference. Georgie Hewitt kicks out on the full, and that man Hoskin-Elliot goals again. Get the bloody ball down to Buddy, I scream out loudly, as Varcoe then puts them in front. Swear words pour forth, in streams.



Buddy finally gets the ball, but hits the post, yet again! The next two minutes are mayhem in our forward line, as I phone Melbourne: “How Long?” “Two minutes”. Another ball kicked to Buddy and his three opponents, it falls to ground, Tommy McCartin handballs to Joey, ball drops to ground, McCartin falls to ground, on his side, grabs ball, sticks his right foot out, connects with ball, kicks it, ball swirls and rolls along the ground towards the goal square, rolling, rolling, rolling – Oh God – it rolls through the big sticks with the Collingwood player lunging desperately, but in vain. A GOAL! A MIRACLE GOAL! Two points ups. Can we hang on?



That wretched Brody Grundy – what a game he’s had – gets it forward, we mark, Maynard kicks on the full, Buddy marks again, goes to Keiren Jack, Collingwood get it on the wing to 20 metres in front of their goal – Isaac Heeney is there, marks, kicks to Aliir, we hold our breath – SIREN!



We did it! I knew all week we would! We simply had to! And we did!



AJ hugs his team mates on the bench, runs onto the ground to hug the rest. They love him. The club loves him. We love him.



As the players leave the ground, both teams missing their injured stars, we are reminded of the closeness of the competition this year.



But foremost in my mind, is that despite the unfortunate losses this year, the Bloods can never be discounted.



Remember 2012: we lost three of our last four games, and we all know what happened that year!



Go Bloods!




SYDNEY  3.2  4.4  9.6  11.7 (73)
COLLINGWOOD 4.1  7.3  7.6  10.11 (71)



Sydney: Franklin 6, Dawson 2, Kennedy, Ronke, McCartin
Collingwood: Varcoe 4, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Cox, Daicos, Sidebottom, Grundy

Sydney: Franklin, Aliir, Rampe, Hewett, McVeigh, Parker
Collingwood: Grundy, Langdon, Adams, Crisp, Sier, Varcoe

Crowd: 39,238



About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. Daniel Saunders says

    This is why we should always keep the faith. We managed to do it for AJ. GO SWANS!!!!!!

  2. Earl O'Neill says

    Jan, do you really ring for the remaining time? For shame! The ’96 Prelim would never have been near as exciting with a countdown clock.
    I was there for Tony’s 1300th, didn’t run onto the field. Did so barefoot for his 1000th in ’95, got close enough to see that he didn’t want the attention so I strolled back to my seat. Slowly. It aint every day you get to walk the SCG before a crowd.

  3. Tony Courtin says

    I like your optimism,Jan,specifically your reference to our 2012 exploits. I will be delightfully surprised if we make finals. What is life without hope!? An amazing goal by McCartin to seal victory. How’s Marsh’s ticker with so many close games this year?

  4. Keiran Croker says

    A gutsy win indeed Jan. Lots to be positive about, AJ’s return, Buddy, Aliir, Dawson, Georgie, etc, etc.. though I reckon a lot of the younger guys are cooked, running out of energy. I’ll be surprised if we go too far this year, though very positive about our future. Go Bloods.
    Cheer, cheer.

  5. Thanks one and all
    Daniel: Let’s hope we can go on with it!
    Earl: I’ve always been one for not knowing how much time remaining – one of the reasons I go to the games – but lately I’m noticing how much more nervous I get with the close ones – hence the calls to family in Melb.
    Tony: Admit I’m being a tad optimistic!! Next week might give us more of an idea as to whether we’re “back”, or not. Bloody hard games ahead.
    Keiran: Agree on all fronts.
    Cheer cheer

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Terrific game and great report Jan. Love your passion. Pleased for Alex Johnson. Wonderful story.
    Pies haven’t been that successful in the last 60 years. Only 2 flags. Melbourne have won more since 1958. Melbourne…

  7. hey Jan i so recall at 9 years your little sis doing the bobby skilton banner such pride all in for South Melbourne
    memories are sweet the swans are elite each awesome player giving all
    the swanniies are a force i love how you love their world
    whether they fly high and get a flag or they play their utmost each remaining game the swannies are the best
    red and white go go go

  8. Hi Phil, Not too sure about “passion”. If it borders on obsession, then there’s a problem! Thanks for comment.
    And, Polly, thanks too. Those were the days!! Cheer cheer

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