Round 4 – Collingwood v Melbourne: it was a Fuchsias market

Round 4, 2016:    Collingwood vs Melbourne

1st qtr. 1.2. – 6.2;

2nd qtr.  6.5 -11.2;

3rd qtr. 8.10 – 14.4;

Final:    9.13 (67) – 16.6.(102)

While Malcolm Turnbull may have innovated that the AFL is the most exciting football code while spruiking in China recently, that was not my “lived experience” after watching the once mighty Magpies play against the fancy Fuchsias yesterday afternoon at the G.

Collingwood vs Melbourne are historically traditional rivals (then again Collingwood vs quite a few teams can constitute traditional rivals).

Like the Montagues and the Capulets, the Hatfield’s and the McCoys, the Timpsons and the Molloys, the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea, the French and well…everybody else, sits Collingwood and Melbourne (The Magpies v the Fuchsia). It was not always thus…well; yes it was (& is).

A rivalry borne out of depression era enmity: of poverty vs wealth, of the powerless vs power, labour vs capital and the dentally challenged (oops) vs the dentists. I’m not into stereotypical rivalry based on simplistic notions of economic determinism but playing football against the toffs on round 4, 2016 in autumnal sun, are you kidding me?  No snow around for the 4-wheel-drive set while little Rupert & Felicity go to piarrno & polo lessons – I’m terribly sorry I don’t know what came over me – there I go bringing class into it again.

No, this is the blue collars vs the toffs plain and simple: That’s our narrative. We all know Collingwood won 4 premierships in a row. While I’ve barracked for Collingwood for a long time I can’t say I recall the “machine” of the late 20’s, and I was only 1 when Collingwood ripped and grabbed and smacked and tore and generally outsmarted the highly fancied Melbourne in 1958 to win the premiership and stop that record from being equalled. Can’t say I recall that game either with our then captain “the enforcer” Murray Weideman at the fore.

The beautiful autumn sun in Melbourne belied the ugly reality that Dave Nadel & I witnessed in the Magoos: a Weideman (Grandson of the enforcer) was playing for Melbourne against our beloved Pies across the road from the G at the old Olympic Park site (now transformed into the Holden centre). I ought to have known as much; it was an omen, a sign of things to come. Perhaps I placed too much meaning on the words of the soothsayer at the Glasshouse café when she said, “your order won’t be too long mate”. We got rolled in the Magoos before Dave Nadel and I sallied forth across the Swan (street) to the G.

We had the main game in town to watch. See our Pies beat the Dees. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Like last year on our second meeting with the Fuchsias; they smashed us like avocado on toast at an inner city café. Bucks said we lost it in about 40 minutes. We fell apart like a slow cooked pulled pork order on the wrong side of town but in contrast to the Saints game last week, we looked to be trying – my patience at least. We laid 99 tackles apparently, which certainly distinguished us from last week where we looked like peak hour traffic; all gridlock and no movement (apologies to Robin Williams). The only problem this week was that the Fuchsias laid over 80 tackles as well.

It’s very hard to win a game of footy when you’ve kicked 1.2 to 6.2 that is 5 goals down at the end of the first quarter. Melbourne was leading in ruck tapouts, tapouts to advantage, contested and uncontested possession as well as clearances. Dave said on a couple of occasions we can come back from here (in hope more than reality I suspected) after all we’re not playing Hawthorn or Sydney. He was right in that we were not playing those teams. However, on the other side of that ledger Melbourne was playing Collingwood of 2016.

Collingwood did work hard – by the end of the game we matched them in many important stats.  However, in the stat that mattered most Collingwood’s losing margin had increased to 6 goals.

At one point in proceedings I was just about to mention to Dave that I thought Langdon was doing a pretty good job when he kicked it across the full back line perfectly weighted for a Melbourne player to intercept & goal. Unfortunately this was not a unique experience for Langdon in this game. It was as though I was watching Collingwood v Melbourne not that long ago with role reversal. Having said that Langdon did some good things too. Of note Treloar did well, as did Sidebottom. Both these players helped us get back into the game. Sidey showed class & poise at times especially with that snap goal in the third quarter. Perspective is a funny thing. From the Ponsford stand end I thought Grundy was only so-so. On the replay he played a better game than I credited him with initially. However, he is only young, is giving away height & weight to a Fuchsias project player come good – Max Gawn who had 4 more tapouts to advantage than Grundy.

Varcoe will be better for the run, Brown was OK, Moore showed patches of how good he is and Reid was reasonably good too. “We” played better than last week. Cloke played better. We worked hard, indeed we did not get the reward for effort that we showed for the latter part of the game – we did try. However what is disturbing & unsettling for me is (probably the obvious):

  1. The number of players who are down in form compared to last year; (Crisp, Adams & Blair to mention a few);
  2. Pendlebury is no half back flanker (coach it ain’t working) & he’s obviously injured;
  3. The lack of confidence of the group as a whole;
  4. The lack of poise & class;
  5. The lack of back up support when we spread – other teams seem to be playing in waves, running in lines, taking risks & backing each other up. Two weeks in a row a player has come off the interchange & has either kicked a goal or directly created the opportunity for a goal where we seem powerless to do anything to stop that;
  6. The lack of continuous spread which is hard work;
  7. The monotonous regularity of the ball going to the oppositions forward line; and,
  8. How much we miss Elliott, Swan and even though he is very young, Ramsey.

You get hangovers from things other than alcohol. (With apologies to Raymond Chandler). I got mine from watching Collingwood lose (again). This brings me to Buckley. Ahem. We have been cruelled by injury but I think the club needs to have an external review of the footy department – not at the end of the year but mid-year. I was concerned earlier this year when Bucks said you need to take two steps back to progress one step forward. I may not be the world’s leading mathematician. However, logic informs me  we can’t progress up the ladder using that formula (-2 + 1 = -1). I won my tip at my youngest daughter’s workplace: I tipped against Collingwood: It was a Fuchsias market.

Be that as it may, my votes for the Horsburgh medal are:

  1. Treloar 2. Sidebottom 1. Reid


** Melbourne used to be called the Fuchsias until their coach many years ago “Checker” Hughes said you’re playing like flowers. I want you to play like Demons (or words to that effect) – something I only learnt recently


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  1. E.regnans says

    Jim – I’m with you on the mathematics.

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Excellent report Jim,
    I woke up Monday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
    99 tackles tell me we are second to the ball. No run, creativity, confidence, skill, leadership. Either something is wrong at Collingwood that we are not privy to or we aren’t as good as we thought. So much money, resources, facilities. All the gear and no idea at the moment.

  3. Attribution: I need to make a confession. My father told me that quoting without acknowledgment is plagiarism while quoting with acknowledgment is research or someone who said they were my father.

    The line about hangovers is from Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s “The big sleep” where Marlowe got his hangover from “women”. The line about traffic is from Robin Williams.

  4. Nice one Big Jim. Great report; great reporting.
    But as the Oakleigh florist Con Fuchsias used to say (after Round 4): “Great expectation make great disappointment.” Like Faz, Collingwood is not as good as it thinks it is.

    Con also used to say: “You can’t pull your socks up if you haven’t got any.” The quality of the stocks is very low at the moment. Whenever there’s an injury or two, the team seems very depleted.

    A few Captain Obvious observations from the outer:
    The reason we can’t kick goals is because our kicking skills are deficient across the board, and even worse across the ground. Most of our goals this year have been dribbled through without much of a contest. As Hawthorn have shown, the fastest way to move the ball forward is by short safe increments. This is based on three leads from three team mates in front of you. This provides the kicker a choice to go left, right or up the guts.

    The backline are constantly under pressure because we don’t win the ruck or can’t hit a forward target when it does go forward. Our ‘system’ is based on kick and hope. Pendles is good at half back: it’s where all of the great captains and playmakers should be. It’s like standing at first slip. But if he recovers from injuries, he’ll have to go back to the centre, because he’s the only one who knows how to kick it to advantage into the forward 50. Of course, he still needs someone to kick it to. (Note that he will not pass to Sidey, because he knows that Sidey will not only waste the ball, but put all of the team under pressure with his ‘look-at-me- as-I-slow-the-momentum-of-the-game-slow-motion-disposal. Cloke, the greatest lead up mark of this era, has stopped leading up, because Pendles can’t get it to him, and with Elliot injured, no one else is good enough to put it in front of him.

    And yet, it might all turn around,
    if Mason Cox, the 6 foot 8 recruit from Eaglehawk*
    ‘where the wind comes sweeping down the plain’ **
    can get us movin’ in the right direction:
    forward …

    * Bruce Dawe, ‘Life Cycle’
    ** Oscar Hammerstein, ‘Oaklahoma’

  5. Thanks David, Phil & Steve.

    Stephen, Mason Cox will not be the messiah and you must do something about your relationship with Sidebottom. You’ve got to take a lesson from Bing Crosby: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

    Wonderful link to Bruce Dawe.
    Where did Hammerstein line up for Oakleigh?

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