Round 23 – Collingwood v Essendon: The last game of the year

By Jim Kesselschmidt for the Floreat Pica Society

Good thanks. Long time listener, first time caller.

Just before starting this my first match report on the occasion of the last game of the year I’d like to say I’ve been a fanatical Collingwood supporter since I was knee-high to Barry Price. Being the youngest in the family I had no choice.

Mine was a typical Collingwood upbringing I suppose: My parents migrated from Europe escaping the holocaust & concentration camps arriving in Terra Firma in 1950. My parents came to Australia as DP’s: Displaced Persons & my father was sent to Bonegilla near Albury-Wodonga. Initially, Dad found Australia a strange & scary place. He’d never seen white bread before (good for picking up broken glass, he later learned) didn’t speak English & in the men’s shower block in Bonegilla saw Lithuanian men with SS tattooed under their arms… but that’s another story.

Dad shifted to Melbourne to reunite with Mum. Three children were hatched & trying to make ends meet & be able to work they needed a baby sitter in our East Brunswick home. Mrs Mack was the baby sitter. According to family lore Mrs Mack spoke like sergeant major when she said “if you’re going to be living in Melbourne you’re going to need a football club to barrack for: Collingwood’s your team” or “Thou shalt barrack for Collingwood

So it was spoken.
So it was heard and,
So it was observed.

Ever since, there haven’t been any if’s, but’s or maybe’s. Perhaps there’s been the odd but, possibly an if & at times even an essence of a hint of a maybe. But that’s another story.

Notwithstanding the fact that my maternal Grandparents lived in Garton Street Carlton (pre-gentrification) & opposite the enemy’s footy ground, it wasn’t enough to sway me from a single devotion (some might say stupidity) to Collingwood.

As a kid in late 1960’s in late primary school on Saturdays, when footy started at 2:10pm, I used to have a ritual where I’d attend Brunswick synagogue for the Shabbat morning prayers, then have kick to kick in the park next to the synagogue, then be taken in Ivan’s (a friend of my older brother) FJ to Victoria Park. Mrs Mack must have had sadistic tendencies as I’ve borne witness to too many Collingwood grand finals, but that’s another story.

Early on I quickly picked up the social etiquette of being a Collingwood footy supporter. Such things as saying: “Dad’s paying” & pointing behind me when rushing through the turnstile on entry to the ground; being able to squeeze through to the fence or just behind it; (I do remember the peanut seller), getting empty steel cans to stand on for extra height; and, learning how to sneak into the one-eyed stand right under the noses of the ticket checkers. I was lucky enough to see my boyhood hero Peter McKenna kick 16 goals against South Melbourne from the vantage point of the one-eyed stand (so attending the Floreat Pica Society gathering 2 years ago at the Carringbush hotel was a wonderful experience).

I played footy at school at Brunswick East primary school & for a year or so at Princes Hill High School. My claim to fame in form 1 (year 7) was that I won the kicking with your opposite foot (now known as non preferred foot) in a footy skills competition beating Arnold Briedis who was in year 8.

I attended Melbourne Boys High School, a school that had the largest HSC (read VCE) in the state. It was a factory for getting into University & had a great footy team. David Parkin & Peter Bedford were teachers at one time at the school when I was there. Some VFL clubs, before the inception of the AFL used Melbourne High School as a school for country kids who were good at Footy. Basically, club officials would entice parents to let their kids come the city & they would be given a supposedly good education at Melbourne High. Not all the players were from the country. Melbourne High HSC also had soldiers completing their schooling (some from Vietnam) in the early 70’s, but that’s another story.

In my time players like: Rene Kink, Allan Edwards, Robbie Flower, Phil Manassa, Shane Fitzsimons, Billy Picken, Brian Wood, Bob Beecroft, one of the Goss brothers of Port Melbourne, Mark Lee of Richmond as well as a variety of VFA types attended. Flower was in my HSC English class. Shy & nice kid. In academic terms he was a good footballer. Much more so for Kink. It was rumoured he’d only passed one or two subjects in form 4 (year 10) but was put up to form 5 (year 11) because of pressure from the club. The friendliest of the lot was Billy Picken. He used to call imaginary races during the library period & was very funny (& good at it). I was lucky enough to make the first 18 & there I was star-struck playing with players who were VFL heroes. I played in the ruck in the ammos but half forward for the school team!! The best of the lot I thought by a margin was Allan Edwards (pre- knee injuries) when having kick to kick during the lunch break. Not all players were allowed to play for the school – depending on how valuable they were to the club at the time etc.

I remember one match in particular when playing for Melbourne High against Scotch College. Kink had kicked 1 goal 11 & “we” hadn’t lost a match in 3 years. We were clawing our way back, the quarter lasted till the exact moment we got in front. I’m sure the umpire cum time-keeper was a Melbourne High Old boy. Needless to say the quarter lasted for 40 minutes. Melbourne High School is now a select entry school based entirely on academic merit. I’ve been told the footy team isn’t much chop but they have wonderful badminton & cricket teams but that’s another story.

I’m in a mixed marriage now: My wife is an Essendon supporter. Our oldest daughter was born in 1990 is a Collingwood supporter & our youngest daughter (coincidentally born in Wodonga hospital near Bonegilla in 1993) post a game in late July where Collingwood lost to Essendon, is an Essendon supporter (so I failed as a parent).

Essendon v Collingwood or “The panic in needle park” vs “side-by-side”. The last match of the year for 2015 or “confusion will be my epitaph” (with apologies to a lame 1971 film, King Crimson and Rocky & Bullwinkle)

Thanks to Dave for the seat & seats during the year & thanks to Peter for the company & coffee.

Felt surreal, not only related to the fact I’d had 3 hours sleep due to the vagaries & vicissitudes of being a shift worker. I was hoping that listening to a Radio National programme on the radio about Magpies while driving to work at 6.30am on Sunday morning was going to be a good omen but watching it at the “G” while listening to the radio during the game, the names seemed to be Back to the Future, perplexing.

McKenna lining up for goal?
Merrett running all over the place?
A tall athletic Moore taking high marks in front of goal?
What was going on?
Was this the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or 2015?
Even a flawed Kennedy was scoring: there is a Dallas in Melbourne.

The first quarter seemed to be devoid of tackling by Collingwood. Tackling is indicative of intent, effort, pressure, desire or being second to the ball. But the lack of tackling? Seems Baldric designed the game plan in so far as execution was concerned.

Highlights included Sidebottom’s sublime skills. Moore’s mark & goal. The presence of Adams: a tough little hombre. Fasolo’s efforts in kicking a goal, tough marks & great pass to White who uncharacteristically kicked a beauty. Reid’s mark in the backline to save a likely sortie forward from the Bombers: which surely would’ve resulted in a goal to them. We got smashed in clearances & murdered in the ruck & centre clearances. Our good moments were disconnected and punctuated by the Bombers fleetness of foot & seeming greater desire resulting in goals to them.

First quarter scores: Collingwood 4.2.26 Essendon 3.2.20

The second quarter seemed like the 1980’s Americanism: ground-hog day. Been there, seen that. Déjà vu all over again. Goals to Essendon due to a greater willingness to work hard, many more clearances, being out tackled & easy misses by us. The inability to clear the ball from the backline & the opening up of our backline allowed Essendon players to be by themselves when the ball slung forward & kicked way over the defence when everyone has pressed forward. Unfortunately, this has not been a unique experience for Collingwood in the second half of the season. Our backline & mid field lacked coherence. We were smashed in the Centre clearances

Highlights included Kennedy’s work-rate, great angled soccer goal, his intuitive dodge & pass to Blair who kicked truly was great to watch. Some good stuff done in the backline was undone even more quickly by some simple skill errors. Herr Von Scharenberg I thought was meant to be an elite kick. The burgher from Adelaide kicked a few pie floaters (if that’s not an overused metaphor re South Australia I don’t know what is). While he seems to have a degree of composure, his elite kicking was not on display in this quarter. Having said that he’s only a pup & has only played four games. Some clumsiness between Brown & Reid also allowed a goal to the Bombers. Another highlight for me was the pace of Marsh. This kid is thrilling and has some X factor. However, he also has some Y factor. Why pass to a person in a worse position? I reckon he’s going to provide us with some real “heart in mouth” moments in his hopefully long career at Collingwood. I’m looking forward to the ride. Who is this McKernan (the afterthought of Corey) & why is he beating Grundy most of the time?

Watching the game it was apparent that twelfth & fifteenth doesn’t equate to first to eighth. It’s been said that there is little difference between the top & bottom teams (often by losing coaches). However, a glimpse of this game would rightly put pay to such foolish considerations. The errors by both teams were on display. At times you could have been forgiven for thinking this was the seconds. Curiously if not perversely, the game had some degree of competitive enjoyment as notwithstanding the lack of collective skill, the game was tight. This proved more to be the case in the second half.

Half time scores: Collingwood 8.3.51 Essendon 9.5.50

Third Quarter.

The game started in Essendon’s forward line & while there were some moments of good play in the backline “we” failed to clear the ball. This resulted in a great snap by Heath Hocking. Later their Cale Hooper won a free for who knows? A behind was more than it deserved. McKenna for them kicked a goal – a pie floater that showed just how disorganized our defence was: It’s pretty basic that the goal line is manned when an opposition player kicks for goal. In my view, neither Witts nor Grundy does this well & nor do others in their absence. Simple basic defence, which has been lacking this year. The umpires also missed another free kick when Elliot was being fended off & sustained an eye injury. Pendlebury only had two or three kicks this quarter

Highlights: we kicked four goals in a row to take the lead: White, Greenwood, Kennedy & Crisp. We worked harder, our clearances were better, our tackling was better but boy oh boy was there some curious decisions being made. Varcoe who is not from Barcelona had a brain fade: He was 20 meters out & had a relatively easy shot thought it would be a jolly good idea to pass the ball back a fair way from goals which not by design resulted in a goal “eventually”. Other highlights included our forward line marking. White played a good quarter & Grundy was subbed off representing Collingwood’s last sub. He looked sore & cumbersome & unfortunately for him was beaten pretty convincingly by his opponent, the unheralded afterthought McKernan

Scores: 3rd quarter: Collingwood 12.5.79 Essendon 11.7.73

The final quarter for the final game of 2015 home & away season

We had our chances & we didn’t use them. Despite a wonderful low hard pass from Taylor Adams threading the eye of a needle to the Prince of Perth who took a great grab & kick truly to a simple miss from a turnover. Fas is frustrating as he seems to do this far too often. Pendlebury also missed another simple gettable shot.

The intensity lifted. Unfortunately so too did Essendon’s & they made more of their opportunities at the end of the day, at the end of the home and away and at the end of the footy season for Collingwood. Missed by that much.

Final scores: Side by side: 14.8.92 Panic in Needle Park 14.11.95

A shame for the many youngsters we played. A disappointing end to a disappointing second half of the season.

Still, I’m proud of “our” boys. All I can say is bring on 2016. Go Pies.


Now for the silly Season. Treloar will look good in Black & White but at what price (tully)?

Horsborough medal votes:



Other Footy Almanac stories of Round 23: Collingwood v Essendon

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  1. great report, hope there’s many more to come

  2. G’day Jim,
    That’s a superb story of meaning and how it all hangs together.
    Victoria Park, Melbourne High, the whole road travelled…
    What a ride.

    Thanks for this.

  3. Thanks for the kind comments.

  4. Loved your story Jim.
    Being an old boy of Melbourne High (much older than you) and up until this year a Tragic Don, gave your report of the game a real kick along.

  5. Thanks Rod, kind words.

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Wow, that’s probably the first King Crimson reference I’ve seen in these pages Jim.

    Really enjoyed this Jim. More please.

  7. Peter Fuller says

    I share other commenters’ appreciation of this fine report, leavened by your fascinating life story. However, I’m mystified and bitterly disappointed that with all the right pointers – Brunny, the synagogue, Garton Street grandparents and Princes’ Hill High, you were unable to deny your unfair sentence to support Collingwood. Mrs. Mack has a great deal to answer for. I’m sure that the Almanac’s numerous lawyers would argue that since your allegiance to the Magpies was established under duress, it is not legally binding. Time to come home to the Blues; how desperately we need you, and if you were good enough to play ruck at MHS in the 70s, you’ll probably get a game next year.

  8. Thanks “Swish”, I was thinking about 21st Century Schizoid Man at one time.

    Peter, thank you.

    I Played ruck in the Amateurs (VAFA) for a brief period of time but played half forward for MHS – post Ben Munday (if that name rings a bell). I have an older first cousin & more like an uncle in those days who used to take me to Carlton V Collingwood games with his Carlton mates. It was a strange thing, I was slow on their uptake: Every-time Cartlon were winning we’d stay till the end. Every-time Collingwood were winning we’d leave at 3/4 time!

  9. One great line after another.
    e.g.: ‘This kid is thrilling and has some X factor. However, he also has some Y factor. Why pass to a person in a worse position?’
    I agree with the other admirers: Moore, please.

  10. Thanks Stephen. Why a duck?

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