Round 5 – Carlton v Collingwood: As it turned out, it wasn’t all about Mick

written by Dave Nadel for the Floreat Pica Society


This was the game that former Collingwood (Footscray and West Coast) coach Mick Malthouse broke Jock McHale’s third most important record of 714 VFL/AFL games coached. Jock’s two most important records are safe. The second most important record, coaching the best club in the competition for 714 matches, is safe. Even if Bucks wins three premierships in a row and his greatest admirer Eddie McGuire stays President for another twenty years, Bucks still won’t beat Jock’s record.

No one will get to equal Jock McHale’s eight premierships (or even Norm Smith’s six) because the pressures created by a fully professional national league with half again as many teams makes that impossible. Four flags seems to be par for the course in the professional period. Sheedy, Matthews, Parkin (also Jeans, Hafey and Barrasi, who began their wining sequences before the VFL was fully professional) all won four flags, none of them coached as long as Mick has for his three.

Only two men have coached Collingwood to Premierships in the last fifty years and Mick is one of them. On that fact alone he gets my respect and gratitude.

As others have said 2002 was an achievement because the Pies weren’t the second best team that season and they nearly pinched a flag. Like Rose’s 1964 team and Hafey’s 1977 team, the question was not why they lost the Grand Final; it was how they managed to get there in the first place.

On the other hand 2011, like 1970, was a case where the best team all season lost a Grand Final that they should have won. I don’t think Mick lost in 2011 by taking too long to put Tarrant on Hawkins (although that didn’t help). I think the Pies lost the GF in Round 24 when Collingwood treated the match as one they did not need to win because they couldn’t lose top place. Although Malthouse rested some key players, Geelong’s comprehensive win convinced them that they were a better team than Collingwood and they brought that conviction with them to the Grand Final.

That said, I still think Malthouse was a pretty good coach and in many ways a thoroughly admirable human being. I admire Malthouse as a human being for two reasons.

Firstly in 1988, I thought Mick showed great courage when he publicly attacked the destruction of forests in WA’s South West on Perth television. It doesn’t matter whether you agreed with Mick or not, a lot of the money behind the Eagles came from individuals and businesses that were supporters (and in some cases participants) in the Western Australian Timber Industry and he was putting his career on the line in making that statement.

Secondly, Mick’s determination to play Leon Davis, which was often seen by his critics as playing favourites, was quite clearly a deliberate move to challenge the racial prejudices of an ugly minority of Pies’ fans. It largely worked.

Most of the above was originally written as a comment on Phil Dimitriadis’s article on the Footy Almanac, but since the Floreat Pica report is published on the Almanac site it seemed more appropriate to use it to open my report on the Pies game against the Blues last night.

The pre-match entertainment was focussed on honouring Mick, the run out with Mick and his family was good, so were the banners, particularly ours. The sound and light shows was underwhelming, but most of the sound and light shows on the MCG leave me cold. There were also fireworks at half-time, which might have been in honour of Mick but might also have been part of the campaign by MCG management to keep non-stop noise happening from an hour before the game until the final siren. Don’t you long for the time when you could talk to your mates before the game and at half-time?

Everyone honoured Mick except the team that he coaches, which put in a dismal performance. Like all true Magpies I enjoy watching Carlton perform dismally but the lack of effort didn’t show much respect for their coach. By the time the players formed a guard of honour for Malthouse at the end of the match the only people cheering Mick were Pie fans. The ground was half empty because all the Blues fans had left at three quarter time.

Carlton actually scored the first goal of the match. It was kicked by Cameron Wood who also kicked another one later in the game. However nothing he did convinced me that Collingwood was wrong to let him go a few years ago.

Then Collingwood rushed a behind and shortly after Jarryd Blair scored the first of four unanswered goals and the game was effectively over. Collingwood kept the Blues under massive pressure and basically continued the same game plan that had been so effective against Essendon. Fierce tackling, followed by fast ball movement and long kicking out of defence by players like Paul Seedsman, Adam Oxley and Marley Williams. The midfielders moved around the ground as quickly as the ball. Ubiquitous seemed the most appropriate term to describe Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams, Dane Swan and Jack Crisp.

Jack Frost, Nathan Brown, Tom Langdon and Tyson Goldsack were magnificent in defence. Even if Henderson went into the game carrying an injury, the fact that a bloke who kicked five goals the previous week did not get a single touch until he was subbed off is a testament to how good a defender Jack Frost has become.

Brodie Grundy had a wonderful match. He was probably beaten in the tap-outs, which didn’t matter because Carlton weren’t good enough to take advantage of the fact, but he murdered both Wood and Warnock around the ground. He had only one less disposal than the two Carlton big men combined. He laid nine tackles (which was nine more than his direct opponents) and was more than any other player on the ground. How often does a ruckman lay more tackles than any of the midfielders?

This was a comprehensive performance by the boys. OK it was only Carlton and I am not yet pencilling September in my diary because Essendon is the only side that we have beaten that may be contenders for the final Eight. However, I am encouraged by the fact that this brilliant display was from a side that will bring in Sidebottom, Greenwood and Witts later in the season, could bring in Macaffer, Reid, Sinclair and Fasolo depending on fitness and form and still has top four draft picks in Freeman, De Goey, Scharenberg and Moore in reserve.

Did you notice that Collingwood had fifteen goalkickers? I don’t think that I have seen that in six decades of following the Pies. In those circumstances Cloke’s accuracy problems are less of a handicap because he creates opportunities for other players. And last night’s statistic demonstrates that the Magpies have the players to take advantage of those opportunities.

Almost everyone played well. (Good luck with the DR votes Andrew!). Even the players who underperformed (Hello Jesse) still played better than they had in previous weeks. You could make a case for Horsburgh votes for up to 17 players. I had Seedsman in my top three until he was subbed apparently as a precaution.

I did feel sorry for Mick, but what a great night for Pie fans!


Ray Byrne Medal Votes


3 votes Scott Pendlebury

Brownlow medal winning performance. He was everywhere (yes I know I have already said that) He shines when we are down, he excels when we are on top.


2 votes Taylor Adams

I will always mourn the loss of Heath Shaw but we certainly got a good player in exchange. His disposal seems to have improved since last year, which was his main fault. He now looms as a long term replacement for Ball and Beams as inside mid. Last night he brought so many other Collingwood players into the game.


1 vote Adam Oxley

26 possessions and 1 goal 3 behinds is not a bad return for a half back flanker. I would say that he is the replacement for Heritier Lumumba but that could also be Paul Seedsman or Travis Varcoe. Whatever, Adam Oxley should be in our best 22 for a long time.

With sincere apologies to Jack Crisp, Jack Frost, Brodie Grundy and Dane Swan all of whom also put in vote-winning performances.


  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Good, balanced report, Dave. Although I wouldn’t get too excited. It’s not as if we beat anyone of note.

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