Round 8 – Brisbane v Collingwood: Wanna hear a bad joke?

I usually try and find some humour in any given sporting disaster but sometimes it’s really difficult to unearth anything that raises a smile. Not everything in sport is an Anthony Mundine quote or a Jarryd Hayne career change. Take the round eight game against the Pies for example, where’s the humour in that?

 

Well, let me tell you about Saturday night…

 

A Collingwood mother and her baby magpie go to the Gabba to watch the Pies play. “What’s going to happen in the game?” the baby magpie asks before kickoff.

 

I’m in the stands sitting behind said Collingwood mother and daughter and the ground is a veritable sea of black and white. I’ve been told that on the other side of the river the Manly Sea Eagles have forfeited a home game in Sydney to play as part of the rugby league double header at Lang Park and I’m almost convinced that the Pies have done the same thing here; such is the visible show of support.

 

From the opening bounce, the alleged home side’s tactics seem to play directly into Collingwood’s own game plan. However good it may have looked on the whiteboard in the change rooms, Leppa’s strategy to focus all of the home team’s play exclusively down one side of the field for the entirety of the game eventuates in ill-advised long kicks in hope or rushed handballs to fresh air and green grass.

 

Collingwood’s high defensive press works to perfection. Basic footballing tactics like handballing to players in the same jumper and direct kicks to leading targets aren’t in the home team’s repertoire of skills.

 

From the stands I colourfully vocalise my inability to fathom the point of having two-thirds of the ground empty if none of the players are prepared to lead into space when the home team has the ball.

 

The Collingwood mother turns and gives me the evil eye.

 

The men in maroon don’t get a point in the first term.

 

Although the home team is hamstrung by the structure that they’ve adopted, the lack of effort from the players is startlingly clear. To make matters considerably worse, some of the player matchups are downright bizarre. Poor Marco Paparone can’t even see over Mason Cox’s shoulders, let alone be expected to compete in the air with the big American.

 

The Collingwood goals pour in and the away supporters find voice. It feels like they’re everywhere, like the stadium is overflowing with Pies fans. There are Bronx cheers when the home team finally finds the scoresheet in the second quarter. It’s hard to say which set of supporters is responsible.

 

Fingers are pointed and shoulders are shrugged after most Collingwood goals. On numerous occasions a backline player walks around with their hands in the air, bewildered by what is going on and clearly unsure as to what exactly they are meant to do about any of it.

 

Without Rockliff on the ground and with Dayne Beams playing on one leg the home team are soft around the ball. Stefan Martin doesn’t get beaten in many ruck contests but Grundy and Cox have his number tonight. The Pies have twice as many clearances as the home side and feast on a number of free kicks that the big ruckman gives away.

 

Very late in the game, Daniel Rich opts to kick off the ground instead of putting his head over the ball in a 3-on-1 situation in the home team’s favour. The groans are drowned out by the laughter of Collingwood supporters. I share my opinion of Daniel’s choice with people in my immediate vicinity.

 

The Collingwood mother covers her child’s ears.

 

The home team’s players lack confidence. They’re fearful of pushing into space and leaving a Collingwood attacker unmarked in case the ball comes rebounding back which, of course, it does.

 

The inevitable loss is made worse by the roar of support after each Collingwood goal. There’s not enough beer left in my cup to cry into.

 

Those of us suitably connected turn to our mobile devices to watch the dying moments of the Sydney vs Richmond game rather than the depravity taking place on the Gabba turf below. I celebrate another team’s victory with disproportionate enthusiasm that afterwards feels like an act of betrayal.

 

The full-time siren sounds.

 

The Collingwood mother and baby magpie leave. They’re happy. Their team has won. They’re smiling.

 

All the Collingwood supporters are smiling. It’s all gone so wrong.

 

What’s the name of my footy team?

 

The Aristocrats!

 

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Comments

  1. I feel your pain Brin. My black & white mob has put in a few tactically bewildering and lackadaisical efforts of their own this year. How did Brisbane nearly knock off the Swans a few weeks ago?

  2. Brin Paulsen says

    That’s the big question I think Jeff. What has changed in a fortnight that elicited Saturday night’s performance?

    The signs of improvement were there earlier in the season, effort was there, even if wins weren’t coming. As a fan your the team can lose on the scoreboard and you can still end up feeling positive about the way your team is going, just ask John Worsfold and those who don the sash. Never seen happier losers in my life.

    For the Lions this loss feels like its something bigger than just losing a single game of footy. It feels prematurely season-defining. I wrote a few weeks back about how I didn’t like the club putting a negative spin on losses (effort vs execution etc) but maybe they were just trying to be honest about what can be expected of this team.

    We wouldn’t be the first team to fall off a cliff in round 8 only to discover that what we thought was the ground is, in fact, a ledge and that there’s a long way left to go before we hit the bottom.

    Then again, maybe the boys just prefer to play in the rain?

  3. I was there Brin, it was painful. I vacated my spot at the social club bar at half time to go and sit with some drunk magpie supporters under the stand. Whilst I hate drunks at the football, it was far more entertaining than the game.
    I actually don’t mind losing as long as we compete and show promise for the future. I agree that some of the backline matchups were poor. And 36 players in one half of the ground is a horrible spectacle. Someone should have given the players the armbands that the auskickers wear that forbids them from moving out of their zones.
    At the start of the year I had the Lions penciled in for 4 wins. I think I may have been a little optimistic. Whilst I enjoyed the win against the suns I now realise that the real reason we won was because umpire Ray Chamberlain did not return after half time due to Injury.
    Keep turning up Brin.

  4. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Brin I was at the G watching Richmond v Sydney and I looked up at the scoreboard half way through the second: Bris 0 – Coll 61. I thought it was a mistake. Hard times made worse by AFL’s obsession with Cold Coast and Greater Western Stalingrad. Hang in there, buddy.

  5. It was just too depressing for words! Thanks for getting off the couch to write about it, I was downing my sorrows with a red to lessen the pain

  6. DBalassone says

    You’ve nailed the game perfectly Brin. Some great lines in there. Especially like the phrase “I colourfully vocalise”. Lucky Gary Ablett Junior wasn’t nearby; he might have asked you to tone it down.

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