Round 21 – Collingwood v Richmond: Paper tigers (roll on summer)

I went along on Saturday.


Supported, even.

With a tiger & several (not so) neutrals.

We had a view from the top deck; my first time in many years. And an interesting perspective of unfolding positional moves that provided.

Collingwood 2015 is a blue collar side. Never blown away. Always thereabouts. Playing a good brand of footy, built on pressuring the ball-carrier. Then chipping around to a contested target, working hard to win that contest. It won lots of games previously, and meant a tight tussle. It won a 2010 flag. There was a time earlier this very year when Collingwood was top 4 with 8 wins and 3 losses. Ahh, yes.

On Saturday Richmond didn’t play that well. Collingwood could easily have been in front at half time (poor goal-kicking, dodgy free kicks). Yet after half time, with freedom allowed by the scoreboard, the Tigers played like opportunistic front-running base-stealers. It worked this time.

It makes Richmond the softest of all opponents I’ve seen this year. Of course, playing arrogant, forward-of-the-ball, unaccountable football looks a million dollars when it comes off. Even Ty Vickery, the Christopher Pyne of footy, looks a star. But mostly this sort of footy will come unstuck. Especially in September. How I’d love to be playing Richmond again next week.

Time after time, following congested minutes in the Collingwood forward line, often including a Collingwood behind, Richmond would goal on the fast break. The classic end-to-end lay-up. Richmond didn’t deserve this win, and certainly not the size of this win. But then, in footy as in life, there is no deserve; there only is or is not.

AFL footy 2015-style is weird. In AFL footy 2010-style, which was weird enough,  Collingwood (and St Kilda) would start three talls in the forward line. One might go roaming around, but two would stay back there. Collingwood tried this again on Saturday (T Cloke, B Reid and D Moore). These days it’s a throwback. And so against Geelong this Friday, I’d go with a new game plan. Empty the forward line completely. Start everyone behind the ball, ready for the steal and end-to-end lay-up.

With the ball: Possession should be maintained. No kicking to contests. Chip it around. Go sideways. Go backwards. Just hold onto the pill. Run, create angles, present overlaps, run and run. Always heading into open space. Tacking gradually forwards like John Bertrand. All marks inside the forward 50m should be taken by players (all of them around 190cm, sure ball-handlers, accurate kicks, with the ability to run all day) running back towards goal, with the flight of the ball. It’s madness, I know. But it will work because all the stats will say so.

Without the ball: Play man-on-man (everyone’s got one). Forget the zoning strategy.  Man-on-man. Tackle very very hard.

Ball in dispute: Get it.

And so now Collingwood is in the farcical position of having NOTHING TO PLAY FOR in the remaining two games. In a sport the focus of so much betting, it’s hard to believe that financial incentives are not being offered to participants in such matches. Roll on summer, roll on.


Collingwood 3.3  3.10  6.13  7.14 (56)

Richmond  7.3  10.6  14.9  23.9 (147)



Richmond: T Vickery 6, B Deledio 3, S Lloyd 3, B Houli 2, J Riewoldt 2, B Ellis, B Lennon, C Newman, D Martin, I Maric, K Lambert, S Grigg.

Collingwood: D Swan 2, J Blair, J Elliott, L Greenwood, S Pendlebury, T Cloke.



Richmond: Andrew Gaze.

Collingwood: Swan, Pendlebury (again).


Umpires: Chris Donlon, Shaun Ryan, Andrew Stephens.


Official Crowd: 63,178 at M-basketball-G


Roll on summer – Paul Kelly

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. Good to see that you have worked out the Ross Lyon game plan ER. That should help.
    And that another season of Collingwood over-promising and under-delivering hasn’t embittered you.
    Meaningless contests distorted by gambling money – AND you are looking forward to the cricket season???
    As my mentor Hunter S Thompson observed “when the going gets weird; the weird get going”.
    Try increasing the lithium dose.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    When Jack Watts and Ty Vickery take you to the cleaners in the same month, you know that something aint right. I attended and endured until 3qtr time. Our midfield is slow and our disposal inept. Many disgruntled Pies heading to Jolimont Station at the last change. I’m trying to stay positive. Never tried Lithium PB. Apparently it helped Bob Hawke stay chipper. Might have to get a prescription if this continues!

  3. Luke Darcy says

    Why was Bristle’s post deleted?

    Surely this is a place of free speech?

  4. Dear Mr Luke Darcy impersonator. You can’t use someone else’s name for obvious reasons. Reveal yourself by sending me an email. [email protected] Cheers JTH

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good stuff OBP love the Pyne-Vickery line.Richmond very similar to Fremantle a defensive game plan relying on turn overs hope the pies turn up friday night

  6. Ahh, g;’day & thanks.
    PB – not embittered. Merely stirring the tribal pot. They’re no good (but then (gulp), what does that make us?). And yes, meaningless contests, gambling money, self-interested administrators etc etc… are all reasons to maintain a healthy perspective and distance from these colourful diversions (important as they are, in the roles they play – see Josh Pinn’s piece).
    Weird? That makes all of us.
    PD – yeah. Flat. And as much as I love the cut of D Swan’s jib, I expected some new comers to be taking more of his load by now. What a champ.
    Rulebook – Richmond’s was a terrible style. A real eye-opener to sit way up high. I’ll be at the G this Friday with fingers crossed…

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Almost went with it being a 1.45 start, but my 8pm appointment to host a rock trivia night was just cutting it a bit too fine. Bloody happy I didn’t go. Walked out of the loungeroom early in the final term. Awful.
    Bring on Summer indeed!

  8. Luke Darcy says

    Look John, I like the way you go about it so I’ll let you get away with this violation of free speech.

  9. mickey randall says

    Vickery the Christopher Pyne of footy? Disagree David. Ty is considerably more skilled, likable, loyal, team-minded etc etc

    Does Swannie go around again? I hope so.

    Thanks for that.

  10. DBalassone says

    Good to see some angst ER. For what it’s worth I thought the loss to the Swans the week prior was worse. We had them on the ropes. But you’re on to something about this sling-slot footy counter attack that we seem to be so badly exposed to. How often do we kill ourselves trying to score with the ball in our 50 for an eternity, only to turn it over and concede a soft end-to-end goal in a matter of seconds? Usually with a few loose opposition players waiting in our back 50 for the uncontested ball. How the faaark does this happen so often? Surely there is something structurally wrong with our game plan. Bucks is being out coached. How hard is it to have just one player in our back 50 just in case there is a turnover?

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