Round 8 – Carlton v Collingwood: the despair of deflation

I’ve had some disappointments in my life. Divorce; failed job interviews; being a Melbourne Stars fan. But on Saturday afternoon, sitting at the MCG as Collingwood towelled up my beloved Blues, for the first time I wholly and viscerally understood the meaning of the word deflated.


You’d think, considering I’ve only been a Carlton fan and member since the start of 2016, that I’d be used to defeat. But this one hurt, more than any I can remember. Even worse that last week when fellow wooden spoon contenders North Melbourne flogged us. Last Sunday I was one of the never-ending stream of Blues fans seen spewing forth from Marvel Stadium at three quarter time. (The Pies witty banner in response? Funny! But ouch.) And yet, even that didn’t compare to Saturday.


Before I go any further, let me say this; I believe 100% in Brendan Bolton and support his tenure and strategy. If he’s dismissed before he gets to enjoy the full blossoming of his ‘sprouts’, his ‘green shoots’, then Carlton will have lost me forever. I applaud the efforts of all the broader football team and the whole club, who I know are working so hard to turn things around. And I know it will happen. I have absolute faith. Anyone who watched the first three quarters of that game on Saturday, as the mostly baby-faced 18th placed team held last year’s grand finalists to account, can’t possibly feel any different. We’re not finishing games off, but there’s so much to like, and with such a young core of players getting hardened to this level of competition, there are good years to look forward to.


How about some of that exceptional team work we saw in the first half? Such as those team-first decisions and plays resulting in group effort goals – Silvagni running toward goal but passing to the better-placed Gibbons for a set shot; Cripps, passing to Cunningham, passing to Silvagni to finish off, when either of the first two could have had a snap at goal. I can’t even begin to describe the hum around me in the stands, where I sat with mostly other Carlton members. It was electric. Not something I’ve felt very often so far in my time as a footy fan.


Perhaps that’s why it hit me so hard when Collingwood struck back and showed the fight and finish that saw them through to the last Saturday in September in 2018. Perhaps, ten minutes out from the end of the match, I’d been enjoying – just a little too much – the idea of my team showing Eddie, every commentator and pundit, all those Collingwood fans and even our own undeserving fairweather fans, where they could stick it. But it was not to be.


Instead, I sank in disbelief as the “Colllll-ling-woooood” chant gathered strength around the stadium in those final minutes, while the Blues cheer squad fell silent. As unwelcome as it was, even I could appreciate the solidarity and power of that haunting call echoing from the rafters, and understood what it meant to our opposition. It was, in the most absolute and horrible (for me) sense of the word, awesome. After the siren, I remained paralysed, sat in my seat for a full ten minutes, surrounded by the Collingwood theme song and unable to work out what to do with myself.


I have no gut understanding of the history of Carlton, or of the history of the rivalry between Carlton and Collingwood. But now, I get it. This match will, I suspect, colour my approach to future match ups with the Magpies. I surprised myself by becoming a hateful, resentful fan, shooting my best death stares towards nearby black and white targets. Nothing to do with the players mind you; even I couldn’t help but admire the fine specimen that is Brodie Grundy – what a thing of great beauty! And I was as concerned as anyone about Mayne.


No, it was all about the Pies fans. I’m starting to understand that this is the point. That rivalry is about the us and them, the en masse battle of colours and loyalty and history. Yes, I have family and good friends who support the Pies, and it won’t affect how I get along with them (though I haven’t spoken to Dad since Saturday, come to think of it). But on match day, at the ground, it’s a different thing.


On Saturday, it wasn’t helped by the fact that despite moving three times in what was supposed to a Carlton members only bay, I had to listen to solo, obnoxious Pies fans who’d found their way into our midst and took great delight in shouting at the top of their lungs to spite us. What is that about? Why are these member-only bays not monitored better? Those of us who choose to sit there, to take up this membership “benefit”, do so for a reason – to be with other supporters of our own team. It’s bad enough that we have our own fans who get stuck into our own players – we don’t need to be having opposition fans screaming in our ears too.


I wish I was braver. I would have loved to turn around and tell the black-beanie-wearing dropkick who I unwittingly sat in front of for the final quarter to go get himself a dictionary and learn some new words. Honestly. I’ve never heard such boring, boorish barracking in my life. “YES! COME ON!!! GO BOYS!” That was the extent of it for monosyllable man. Right in my ear. More times than I could count. I suppose I should be thankful he restricted himself to cheering on his own team rather than running us down. But by that stage I just wanted him to shut the **** up.


Eventually I gathered strength to stand, and dragged myself out of the stadium towards my bike. As I cycled home, I was plagued by the Collingwood song; it stomped around in my head, accompanying me all the way back to the inner west, unable to be shifted until I drowned it in red wine and comfort food.


I guess that’s what I’ve signed up for, for now, as a Blues fan. Defeat. Deflation. Demoralisation. But I also know this will make the wins, when they come, all that much sweeter. I look forward to getting to know a whole other set of d words in the footy domain. Delight. Delirium. Despicable happiness.


It can’t come too soon.


CARLTON     1.4     5.6     10.8     13.9 (87)
COLLINGWOOD     2.1     5.6     9.9     16.10 (106)


McGovern 3, Cuningham 2, McKay 2, C.Curnow 2, Cripps, Murphy, Silvagni, Gibbons 
Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott 2Phillips 2, De Goey 2, Brown 2, Stephenson 2, Grundy 2, Crisp, Treloar, Mihocek, Thomas


Cripps, McGovern, Murphy, Cuningham, E.Curnow,
Collingwood: Phillips, Grundy, De Goey, Brown, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Treloar


C.Curnow (ankle)
Mayne (concussion), Thomas (ankle)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Dalgleish, Howorth, Fleer


Official crowd: 69,289 at the MCG



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Writer, cricket tragic, occasional musician.


  1. george smith says

    Just to remember what happened:

    Carlton banner v Collingwood 1980:
    “Collingwood, bow to your Conqueror”

    Carlton banner 1982:
    “How do you win a Premiership – play Collingwood.”

    Last finals game Collingwood v Carlton 1988 – Madden dominated the ruck, umpires gave twice as many frees to Carlton as to Collingwood. Result, easy win to Carlton. Nobody complained about umpires, Carlton were deemed too good.

    I’m sort of glad that Carlton celebrated the anniversary of the 1979 premiership on Saturday. As Shakespeare said:
    “The whirligig of time brings forth his revenges.”

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Yvette, regarding your opening line, I fully understand the disappointments in your life. I too am a Melbourne Stars fan….

    Despite not meeting in a final since 1988, the Collingwood/Carlton rivalry still counts, still means plenty.

    Your tale is the exact reason why my seats are in the Collingwood centric Ponsford Stand. I enjoy no part of sitting anywhere near opposition supporters.

    And yes, Brodie Grundy is a fine specimen. Already the best ruckman I’ve seen in black & white from following Collingwood since the mid 1980’s.

  3. John Butler says

    Yvette, this piece captures exactly why I have no time for that too-cool-for-school line about the rivalry not mattering anymore.

    Try telling that to the two fan groups. It matters. Anytime. Anywhere. Any circumstance.

    Get yourself the DVD’s of the old premiership wins. Watch 1970, ’79, ’82. They offer some consolation in bad times.Cherish the past, but look to the future.

    And don’t let those Magpie types rattle your cage. It’s all part of the theater.

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