Round 4 – Collingwood v Melbourne: Early settlers

We’re at the Ian Potter Gallery at Federation Square.
-Look Dad. We saw that one on our school excursion.
-Did you?
-Yeah, the day we saw Andy (Griffiths) and Terry (Denton).

It’s a Frederick McCubbin. “The Pioneer,” no less.


The Pioneer – McCubbin (click to enlarge)

-What do you think is going on in this picture?
-Look at how the background changes with each panel.
-Oh yeah.


On a whim, I’ve walked down to the Ponsford Stand, ground level, behind the goals. Around me are Collingwood people. There’s a Mum with three young kids; brothers giving each other sly kidney punches (“Stop that”). The carry-on is interrupted by a value-pack of Tim Tams. There are four young blokes getting on it. There’s Joffa.

I seem to have landed in the Collingwood throng. Black and white fans all about; it’s feels like old times.


-That first panel is all bushy.
-And there’s just a man and a lady. No child.
-They look a bit tired.


First quarter.
Collingwood is all over the place.
Melbourne showed last week (in the Hobart breeze) that they could score goals.
And score goals they do today.
Collingwood players seem paralysed with indecision.
It seems they are trying to remember something, rather than playing on instinct.
They look disjointed.

Man up!!

Simple football!

You wouldn’t be four goals behind!

COL 1.2.8
MEL 6.2.38


-That second panel has a house in it.
-They built a house.
-And had a child.
-Look, there are less trees.
-They have cleared some bush.
-He’s sitting against a log, with his axe.
-Maybe it’s some time later.
-After they’ve chopped down trees and built a house and had a baby.


Second quarter.

Indecision continues.
T Varcoe slips has man and runs on. Leading to a goal. It’s encouraging.
But J Hogan marks and goals. And then there’s another. It’s easy for the Dees.


DO something!

It’s like no one gives a crap!

You shouldn’t be paid!

Jesse White you are KIDDING ME!

Collingwood finds a brief passage of collective, with the old swarming pressure and run. Treloar goals, Cloke goals. But so does Watts.

It’s about time Watts! It’s only taken you seven years to WAKE UP!

COL 6.5.41
MEL 11.2.68


-That third panel is different.
-There’s a town in the background.
-And that’s a grave.
-Who’s grave is it?
-It could be those settlers.
-The lady and the man.
-And that guy could be the child, grown up.


Third quarter.

Collingwood players continue to head wide with the ball. It’s impossibly indirect. And it has disenfranchised everyone in the Ponsford Stand. Maybe it would look different if kicks hit their targets. But as it is, it’s an awful game of footy to be watching.
These young footballers look nervous, confused and hesitant.
My kingdom for Swanny.

All we want is a contest!

Up the guts!


Give ME a jumper. I couldn’t be worse!

This is terrible, Collingwood!

COL 8.10.58
MEL 14.4.88


We leave the gallery. There’s a free comedy festival show on the Fed Square stage. Sitting in the sun, yer comedian pulls people out of the crowd to help him. There’s an extended unicycle on stage. And hats. And ping pong balls.


Last quarter.

It’s like a bad joke. Melbourne are not much good here. But they’ve been accurate. A couple of frees the other way, a couple of decisions of “touched” that might have gone missing another day. A couple of comical turnovers. But still.

We’ve gone BACKWARDS Collingwood!

Do you see the way the Doggies play football? THAT’s football!

Forget Buckley’s game plan! Go long!

More trouble than the early settlers!



Oblivious to the lives and trials of mortals once more, the moon rises over the eucalypts of Yarra Park.
She has seen it all before.
Collingwood at 1-3 have a lot in common with McCubbin’s pioneer and the early settlers:
-You never know when your time is up.
-The end is often closer than you think.
-All things must pass.
-It’s best to keep it simple, stupid.

On the positive side, as for the early settlers, the future is still unwritten. There’s still time to carve out 2016.


COLLINGWOOD 1.2 6.5 8.10 9.13 (67)
MELBOURNE 6.2 11.2 14.4 16.6 (102)
Goals: Collingwood: S Sidebottom 2, T Cloke 2, A Fasolo, A Treloar, B Sinclair, D Moore, T Varcoe.
Melbourne: J Watts 4, C Pedersen 2, D Tyson 2, J Hogan 2, A Brayshaw, B Kennedy, D Kent, J Viney, M Gawn, S Frost.
BEST: Collingwood: N/A.
Melbourne: N.Jones, Gawn, Viney.
Injuries: Collingwood: B Reid (sore knee), B Sinclair (concussion), T Cloke (elbow), T Goldsack (illness) replaced in selected side by J White.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, Simon Meredith, Robert O’Gorman.
Official Crowd: 47,558 at MCG.


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. Top stuff ER. You capture the feel of a footy crowd perfectly. I spent Sunday with faithful tranny barracking alternately for GWS, Kangas and Dees. My enemy’s enemy. Solitary manual labour is good for the sole. Pulling up planks on the deck and reorganising the cupboards/junk in the garage (I can see the metaphor for coaching/watching Collingwood). The place is rotten with termites (Bucks sighs). “The Man” is coming on Friday to inject the floors and the joists with chemicals (Stephen Dank has to make a living somehow).

  2. bob.speechley says

    A case for that other Tom Roberts gem “Ramming the Shears”.

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Ah, Mountain Ash, the art of placing vignettes side by side and trusting they add up to a story. And they do in your hands! Not unlike your pioneers. Unlike your footy team. Or as you say,theirs is a story that can be written and re-written until it sounds a bit better.
    I spent the last week in the Snowy Mountains, amid the mountain eucalypts. Many a time, you crossed my mind.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    There is still time to carve something out of 2016. But our team needs to start carving soon.
    I was above you, 3rd level of the Ponsford. Almost identical sentiments being uttered by the pies fans there too.
    Great work again ER.

  5. ER I was barracking like mad for the Dee’s. It’s good for football.
    Wonderful writing here.

  6. E.regnans says

    G’day all.
    PB- funny how perceptions change so fast. “A good list,” was my message (both received and transmitted) a few weeks ago.
    I reckon it still is. When the parts click they form a terrific unit.
    Just need to harmonise.
    Too many cooks? Too many messages? Too much confusion?
    How much has footy changed in 2016 relative to last year? With the interchange cap. Interesting.

    Bob- well played.

    MdH – beautiful country through there.
    Thankfully most of us have a day in our we write our own stories. As Matilda (the Musical character, of Roald Dahl) sings:
    “if I think the ending is fixed already I might as well be saying
    I think that it’s ok.
    And that’s not right.”

    L Reynolds – who knows where the end of the year will find Saints, Dees, Swans? It’s possible we’ve lost to 3 of the top 8. Play on.

    Dips – Like PB, you must have had a lovely afternoon. Tremendous.
    Good for football? I see that in the tragi-hero story now unfolding. It’s an off-field bonanza. Talking heads will love it. Not so good for on-field football, alas.

  7. Gareth Meyer says

    Great metaphorical structure! Collingwood certainly have enough beards to pass for early settlers. Shame there aren’t a few armed bushrangers around to storm Vic Park and take control of the joint.

  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Me thinks it’s time for a Kit Kat ER:

  9. John Butler says

    Something about Burke and Wills would seem all too obvious at this point E Reg. Are those corpses lying under the spreading FIGJAM tree?

    Problems have been pretty obvious to date – not enough blokes can hit a target and not enough man up when the other side has it. As a consequence, Pies’ ball movement has been static and opponents have been allowed too free a reign for significant periods.

    But they can still show character, as they did against Richmond. Though I fear you overrate the list Buckley has built.

    ANZAC day looms large.

  10. David- really enjoyed this. Weaving a McCubbin dissection with a Collingwood recount works wonderfully, if disappointingly (for you). Art and footy yet again inform each other in vibrant and curious ways.

    Wish your Pies well in the coming weeks.


  11. E.regnans says

    Gareth – bushrangers – love it.

    Phil – ahh, what else have you got stored back there in your memory? Good get.

    JB – FIGJAM tree. Very good. Dig, lads, dig.
    We can all see the deficiencies. And the swarming, mugging pressure is a taxing way to win games. Probably better suited to the days (last year) of unlimited interchanges. Like the introduction of the stab pass, the interchange cap has changed the game tactically, I think. How best to win? What style to play? ROLL THE thinking music.

    Mickey – thank you. We had McCubbin and Streeton and Roberts et al on the walls of my Heidelberg Primary School as a young fella. They seeped in.

  12. Malcolm Ashwood says

    OBP it really shows pre season means absolutely nothing and in retrospect in that round 2 absolutely putrid game of footy is it really a surprise both sides are struggling ?
    At this stage it looks like I along with many others over estimated the pies and the power what is standing out is the pies,power and tigers lack elite kicks of the footy may be more emphasis should be put on that aspect of the game which is bewildering in that isn’t that the aspect in which the hawks have been well in front of every one else ? Is Seeedsman a bigger loss than any one could have imagined ?

  13. Now that’s writing. Wonderful to read. I was transported there. Pity “we” lost!

    I look forward to having Wills from our 2’s play for us!

  14. David, speaking of art do you think Buckley’s game plan is more akin to Jackson Pollock?

  15. G’day Jim,
    Nice one.
    I’m not going to hop in to the gameplan, though, as I have no idea.

    I have no idea regarding N Buckley’s gameplan. And I suspect not many outside of Collingwood know much, either. Lots of guess work. But we’ll never know.
    There has been an opposing team each week, too, let’s remember.

    Watching Fitzroy and then Collingwood on the weekend, and hearing and reading some testimony from former players, I think the demands on players are huge.
    Players carry an enormous burden of expectation – from themselves, from a flotilla of coaches/ managers/ friends/ family/ media types/ social media pundits/ click-bait merchants – all making demands.
    Add to that a controlling narrative from senior coaches.

    And like in any workplace, an intangible the mixture of personality styles and management beliefs can either empower of erode confidence of the workers.

    My 2 cents says communication is the biggest silver bullet in footy (and all endeavours involving more than one person). Imagine the theatrettes this week at Collingwood, at Fremantle, at St Kilda.
    Who is setting up the practical jokes?
    Who is simplifying life?
    Who is ranting a negative line: “Don’t stuff it up, don’t stuff it up, don’t stuff it up.”
    Who is empowering the crew: “What do you think? Give it a go,”

    Who wants to go to work this week? Who is enjoying themselves?
    Maybe a Jackson Pollock workshop would go well.

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