Round 7 – Collingwood v Carlton: Junkyard Dogs Launch Schadenfreude Festival

In today’s engineered AFL environment, the most costly mistake a club can make is to misjudge its playing list’s proximity to that elusive premiership ‘window’. To plan based on the assumption you’re a still contender, only to find your ship has sailed, is to invite years of subsequent pain. As an associated ill, the surest path to destabilisation is to sell unrealistic public goals for the season. This invites an avalanche of external distraction, usually when you need it least.

Carlton’s calamitous 2015 season was a direct consequence of sustained dedication to such error. This week, it encountered another experienced practitioner in the commitment of these sins.

Though Carlton is the club publicly in the process of a ground-up rebuild, selection for this game saw it field a team slightly older, and with more average games experience, than a Collingwood opponent carrying much more weight of expectation. The Blues had lost Weitering and Phillips to injury, and omitted the unlucky Graham; including experienced trio Jamison, Walker and Everitt. Brown’s omission, and Cloke’s continued VFL exile, reflected the current Magpie form disarray.

This game’s overall pattern was set from the start. Carlton won the contested ball more reliably, courtesy of Patrick Cripps, held sway by weight of numbers in midfield, and worked more cohesively as a defensive unit. Collingwood struggled to rebound from defence, their avenues blocked, their ball carriers harassed. That they maintained reasonable scoreboard proximity was due to Alex Fasolo’s ability to snare 4 goals from limited opportunities, and Darcy Moore’s 3 goal 2nd half. It was also an indication of Carlton’s ongoing forward line struggles.

It says little for Collingwood’s team defence that a Blues side who’s previous season high was 11 goals were able to fashion 5 goals in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Carlton scoring was enhanced by better ball movement, a dominant marking display from Levi Casboult, which ultimately yielded him 3 goals, and supplemented by a trio of majors from Andrejs Everett. The decisive contribution in the match came from Bryce Gibbs, who worked his way forward to conjure a 3 goal burst in the 3rd term that at one point stretched Carlton’s lead to 30 points.

For a rebuilding team, the current Carlton line up is an interesting beast. With prime draft picks Weitering, Curnow and McKay all indisposed, Brendan Bolton has been left with a motley collection of Giants fringe players, a couple of Crow discards, and a core of Carlton’s remaining experienced hands. Plus the phenomenal Cripps. Over the course of seven rounds, Bolton has forged a team with a distinct method. Against expectations, Carlton are proving a thorny proposition for any opponent not bringing its best game.

Collingwood currently make for a perplexing contrast. Nathan Buckley has been fashioning a team for several seasons now, so it’s concerning that their intended method remains elusive to the eye. Supporters bemoan an inability to put together four quarters, but might this not be a symptom of a style unable to be sustained by a playing group with limited kicking skills? At times, Pie players don’t appear to lack effort so much as a clear understanding of what they’re striving to achieve. They are capable of attractive bursts, but these have been far too spasmodic. With Swan out, they’re too reliant for football smarts on Pendlebury and Sidebottom.

The Magpie predicament is now complicated in no small way because they’ve oversold the product. Again. With so many of our venerable media establishments still wedded to the tiring notion that anything Collingwood is good for business, the Pies more than any other club should be wary of hype. This makes it difficult to see what purpose Gary Pert’s pre-season touting of top four ambition was supposed to serve. It’s doubtful Buckley will be thanking him anytime soon. Well may Eddie ponder the meaning of the Collingwood presidency, though he might better consider the law of unintended consequence, as it pertains to coaching transition plans.

Of course, this serves as pure delight to most of us. That majority of the football universe, which remains impervious to black and white charms, loves nothing more than the prospect of a Magpie meltdown. Schadenfreude will be thicker in the air than autumn leaves should this continue.

Meanwhile, Bolton’s junkyard dogs will be looking to their next scrap. After its recent calamities, even Carlton will avoid the trap of making too much of three wins over struggling opponents. But seasons can only ever be built one win at a time. This season continues to become more interesting with each passing week.


COLLINGWOOD     3.2   6.6   10.7   12.12 (84)
CARLTON               3.4   8.5   13.8   15.9 (99)

Fasolo 4, Moore 3, White 2, Blair, Greenwood, Broomhead
Carlton: Gibbs 3, Everitt 3, Casboult 3, Murphy, Kerridge, Lamb, Jones, Sumner, Thomas

Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Fasolo, Treloar, Reid
Carlton: Gibbs, Cripps, Casboult, Murphy, Simpson, Docherty, Curnow

Official crowd: 60,222 at the MCG


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About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. E.regnans says

    Love it JB.
    Very good.

    The work of a true craftsman to portray Carlton as Junkyard Dogs and an underage Collingwood as the entitled failures. And somehow, I reckon it works.

  2. John Butler says

    With much assistance from E McGuire, G Pert, N Buckley.

  3. Great summary John. The season is becoming more fun each week. My respect for Bolton growing each week.

  4. John Butler says

    DJL, I’m now a fully paid subscriber to The Elbow’s theory of one dirty win at a time.

    As befits a fine working class club like Carlton.

  5. JB – I think I’ve finally worked out this whole Premiership window thing. I got the solution watching Play School the other day (yes I’m still a fan).

    Now, everyone knows that the best window to look through in Play School is the Round window. Obviously in recent years Cats, Swans and Hawks have been looking through the Round window. Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon etc etc have all been looking through either the Square window of the Arch window.

    I wonder which window the Roos have been looking through?

  6. John Butler says

    Dips, you may be onto something. Though the Industry won’t be keen for this to spread, lest the price of their ‘IP’ plummets.

    Is there a future’s trading floor for Jemimas?

  7. Junkyard dogs, hey?
    Hmmm. Do I detect the early signs of Carlton supporters
    re-finding that long lost arrogance of old?
    Time will tell.

  8. Saw Eddie on the Logies (my excuse is I was barracking for Waleed Aly). The footage of his mulleted youthful self stumbling over basic story intro lines on his first day as a #10 reporter.
    Made me think what a battle of wills it has always been for him to overcome his Broady upbringing. Show ’em that you’re bigger, stronger, smarter, harder working. Never look back except in admiration at how far you’ve come. No mountain that can’t be climbed.
    Hubris? Is that an albatross I see around yon Buckley’s neck?
    It was very good of the AFL to schedule the Blues – Pies game at the same time as the ritual humiliation at Kardinia Park. After half time I much preferred watching developments at the MCG.
    Any distraction from the uncomfortable truth. Nice one JB.

  9. Tony robb says

    JE I’ve seen the future and its name is Cripps. Very worthwhile trip last week.

  10. John Butler says

    Smoke, like I said, the lessons of last year were obvious even to Carlton supporters. No one should be getting ahead of themselves. But let us have a little fun at the Pies’ expense. After all, they did slip us that Malthouse-sized poison pill.

    PB, who are you kidding. We know you watch the Logies for the Red Carpet parade.

    TR, you timed your run perfectly. And a big affirmative re Cripps. Shame you missed Weitering – aka The Future part 2.

  11. The People's Elbow says

    Not Eddie, not his band or his street choir can un-cluster the chewy cluster of fk brought on by the disastrous coaching transition heralded at the time as “industry leading”. Not even with a chainsaw.

    For us, Malthouse begat a process that lead to Brendan Bolton (Carlton’s gain is the UN’s loss).

    For Collingwood? Nathan “The Law of Diminishing Returns” Buckley.

    I reckon that makes it two wins in the past four years.

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    I’m just glad I didn’t bump into you or Elbow after the game. Seems Bucks’ mantra now is ‘Harden Up!!” This is nice and manly, but hardness means shit if you can’t kick and handball properly.
    I actually liked watching the Blues play because they played like they are developing a trust among themselves and they were able to carry out simple skills like kicking or handballing to a teammate in a better spot.

    I don’t know what Buckley has done this year, but when you have El Presidente McGuire questioning the game plan and his own presidency, you know that the sword of Damocles is beginning to teeter above.

  13. One of the all-time great Almanac quotes:
    “…hardness means shit if you can’t kick and handball properly…”
    P Dimitriadis, May 2016.

    Let me have a little fun also!

    It was pure greed which drove Eddie (and Collingwood) to this point. They couldn’t bear for Buckley to go elsewhere so they concocted a ridiculous Kirribilli-type agreement which was always going to end with someone in tears. They wanted their cake and to eat it, too.

  14. The People's Elbow says

    I was in the MCC Phil (the “People” in People’s Elbow is something of a misnomer).

    Can I just say that there is nothing that lowers the tone of the Members quite like a Collingwood game…

  15. John Butler says

    I dunno. Leave a post to its own devices for a few hours and a this is what you return to.

    Like the Van reference Elbow. Appropriate. There’s more than a little Madam George about Eddie at present.

    Phil, is Bucks getting back in touch with his inner FIGJAM? He seems like such a nice chap at those pressers.

  16. Very enjoyable article and comments folks, especially last line O Wise Elbow. Smokie is also on the money, but it begs the question, why could Collingwood not bear for Buckley to go elsewhere. He may have been one of the best players, but he is not an AFL premiership player. (I assume SANFL with Port Adelaide does not count). History is littered with the bodies of excellent players who failed to make the grade as coaches. My first thought is pure hubris.

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    Well summised John (written through gritted teeth).

    The boy Cripps is a gun, second best young midfielder I’ve seen this season behind J.Viney.

    Enjoy your returning swagger.

  18. John Butler says

    Bucko, this is an interesting point you raise. Getting hold of some Hawthorn IP seems all the rage at present. Collingwood (ahem) bucked the trend in this regard. Seems to be going well.

    Luke, Luke, Luke. Keep playing those Spiderbait albums. They’ll cheer you up.

  19. If Buckley really did say ‘harden up’, then the question has to be asked: is he spending too much time reading ‘comments’ on Facebook?

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