Round 23 – Hawthorn v Collingwood: Not quite a Black Swan

by John Ramsdale


Hawthorn v Collingwood, August 28th 2016


Having been attending Collingwood games with the aptly named Piesimist since the mid ‘60’s and before that with my dad, who had a similarly gloomy disposition, I was not approaching this game with much optimism. Some of this attitude had clearly rubbed off on me and given some of Collingwood’s performances this year and their opposition it is probably not that surprising. I cannot remember coming home from a Collingwood-Hawthorn game in recent years when, at the end we were not surrounded by a group of smug, chirpy, brown and yellow clad supporters telling us what a happy team they were. I was looking for something positive to hang onto for some optimism.

On Saturday the Coodabeens were talking about Black Swan events. A Black Swan event is defined as “an event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict.” This reminded me of such an event, the last game of 1997, the day the death of Princess Diana was announced at the MCG. We were playing North Melbourne who were secure in the final 8 and we were in our familiar 10th position. We were given little or no chance of winning that day however, we won 18.14.122 to 15.12.111. A glimmer of hope perhaps.

(For the trivia buffs, that 1997 side contained the rump of the 1990 side, a young Nathan Buckley and Paul Sharkey, John Barnett, Stephen Patterson, Aaron James, Jason Wild, Brad Cassidy and Chad Liddell)

Being a Hawthorn home game, Collingwood supporters were outnumbered but we were well represented. From an early bounce, Jordan De Goey cleared the ball and a miskick bounced out towards the boundary. I commented that some idiot in the crowd will call “deliberate”. The umpire didn’t wait for that call to come and awarded a free kick to Hawthorn. It would not be the last questionable decision of the day especially as they affected Collingwood. Brodie Grundy was doing well in the ruck although his good work was not always capitalised on. Travis Cloke was trying hard but could not hold onto his marks, he looked like a shadow of his former self. Steele Sidebottom, and Jack Crisp were in everything. Jeremy Howe took his weekly screamer and the two young look-a-likes Rupert Wills and Tom Phillips were doing well as was Ben Crocker in the forward line. Wills had been given the unenviable job early on Sam Mitchell. Collingwood’s style was indirect but patient and determined compared to Hawthorn’s more polished performance. The quarter ended with Collingwood having a 10 point lead thanks to good goals from Jarryd Blair, Jordan de Goey (2) and Ben Crocker. The lead could have been more except for a few lapses in decision-making, a slip by Crocker in the goal square, turn overs and a bit of bad luck. Surprisingly the Disposal Efficiency showed Collingwood at 82% and Hawthorn at 75%. A very encouraging start.


Within the first minute of the second quarter, the lead had extended to 16 points through Levi Greenwood who had also been good in the first quarter. Hawthorn then began to look a lot better and more dangerous with goals from Gunston, Puopolo, Rioli, Breust from a great hit out from Grundy and Hodge after a 50 metre penalty and they hit the front. Was this the end of our good start and an indication that the Hawthorn flood gates were about to open? The old misgivings were there. “Oh well at least we had one good quarter.”  However, Collingwood did not lie down and regained the lead through good work from Jesse White up forward and in the ruck, Jeremy Howe down back and Travis Varcoe. Adam Treloar who had been quiet in the first quarter was really coming into the game and Scott Pendlebury who had appeared quiet but probably wasn’t, was also very good in keeping us in the game. Goals from a great mark by Tyson Goldsack who had been quiet, and Treloar meant that we had improved our quarter time lead by a point.

The third quarter was our worst as Hawthorn piled on 6 goals to our 2. These coming from a great snap by Grundy and then finally one from Cloke. Hawthorns’ goals came from a combination of their good play and our turnovers. White went down with what looked like a serious knee injury and we were already one player down with James Aish out of the game.  The contrast in playing styles was more evident this quarter. Hawthorn looked more polished and skillful, especially their experienced players, but you could not fault Collingwood’s endeavour, but we were 12 points down.


Another great start to a quarter with Greenwood snapping a goal and a heavily bandaged Jesse White marked on the 50 metre line and went back and goaled. Where has that form been over the last couple of years? Let’s hope the confidence carries over to next year.  Hawthorn’s lead soon extended to 18 points and it looked like the game was over. The lead could have been greater but for some of the strong tackles laid by Jonathan Marsh and some good clearances by Howe, Brayden Maynard and Marley Williams. Yet again, Collingwood did not give up and kept coming, with Cloke starting to get into the game, assisting in a goal to Crocker and then kicking a goal after a great piece of play which saw the ball move from the backline through Williams to Treloar to White to Cloke. Only a goal the difference. A great mark by Blair and then a snap by Treloar, who had been in everything, put Collingwood in front. I could hear the Black Swan squawking or honking or whatever noise a swan makes. However, the Hawthorn ruckman, who Grundy had beaten all day grabbed the ball and kicked a long goal. Scores even. Hawthorn then used all their experience and skills to maintain possession and slow the game down. A rushed Puopolo behind cost us a draw and ensured that the Hawthorn crowd were a relieved team if not an entirely happy one.

A great effort and great spirit shown by Collingwood in what could just have been a dead game which counted for little. These qualities were shown especially when Hawthorn had established a big lead. Very encouraging for next year as every player contributed at some stage. Far more encouraging than it would be for Richmond supporters after their performance. As Buckley said, the only thing we missed out on was singing the song. The winner of the Ian Bremner/Scott Crowe medal will be announced at the FP dinner.

Things to look forward to over the next 6 months:
-The Seconds in their finals’ campaign
-Speculation about the players who we are chasing.
-Surprise at who we end up with
-Speculation about who will leave, voluntarily or otherwise
-Speculation about all the moves behind the scenes with Gubby Allen and Neil Balme
-The Finals: barracking for ABH (Anybody but Hawthorn).
-Can Heath Shaw win another premiership medal?
-The Brownlow: unlikely to provide a winner but Treloar and Pendlebury should do well.
-Rising Star: Darcy Moore, but unlikely
-The Grand Final Sprint: Who will represent Collingwood?
-The FP annual dinner and award winners announced
-The Draft: Delight expressed by the recruiters as they claim that they were surprised that our Picks, 58, 63 and 79 lasted so long and were still available.
-A more interesting Test series than last year.
-Having a full injury free list available for Round 1 and beyond.

Thanks for all the contributions on this site throughout the year.


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