Round 8 – West Coast v Collingwood: The Marking Magnificents

West Coast v Collingwood

1:35pm, Sunday July 26

Perth Stadium



Greetings from the Kingdom of Westralia where peace and prosperity reign under Mark the Magnificent and Gina the Great. Of course visitors from the remote colonies are always welcome – much in the same way that African tribes greeted travelling missionaries. A welcome variation to the diet.


Weighed up the options on Wednesday about rolling over the Eagles membership to next season or taking in the game.  Easy call – the Avenging Eagle wants to see “her boys” and I can only be Captain Grumpy for so long.  


I recall standing under the pro shop verandah 40 years ago while blokes in their 60s and 70s teed off in bleak weather. As I shook my head an “old” bloke said “son when you get to my age you have mates in the cemetery who would give their left testicle to play in the pouring rain”.


By contrast this is a perfect dry winter’s day. Going to the game is about the crowd, the occasion and a chance to make sense of teams in a way the narrow TV lens doesn’t permit.


Both teams have late withdrawals with McGovern and Pendlebury both out. Collingwood look short of class and leaders but they do bat deep and travel well.


The first quarter is all Magpies. Grundy is on top in ruck and they run and spread dynamically. Eagles get a late goal to prevent a total wipeout.  Shades of September 2018.


Second quarter is an arm wrestle early and Jack Darling deja vu’s a sitter unchallenged at the top of the goal square.  Eagles are getting on top at the clearances where Treloar is batting solo against Kelly, Yeo, Shuey and Redden combining to gang up.  Accumulated pressure as much as class.


Kennedy is leading, marking and kicking truly with Darcy Moore unhappy to defend rather than intercept. Darling redeems with a clever pass across goal right on half time for the Eagles to take an 11 point lead after their sluggish start.  Jack has the frustrating gift of making the easy difficult and the difficult easy. Brain and body sometimes inhabit different planets. But his work rate is first class and he combines well with JK for space, blocks and chop outs.


At half time I’m thinking its been a joy to watch footy on a dry ground after the slime, slush and humidity of the “Sunshine” State.  Good pressure footy from both sides with skills and ball handling understandably 70% given the disruptions and limitations of Covid season. 


I’m expecting Grundy’s endurance to get on top against bursts of Naitanui and an undersized Oscar Allen to give Collingwood some chance of reasserting themselves.


Instead the Collingwood players seem to have gone back to Joondalup Resort for a late tee time. Naitanui jumps all over Grundy after half time and Oscar has a break out game as a mobile ruck who stars around the ground with great hands and ball use.  His long term future is at CHF and there is a hint of young Kouta about him.  Grundy has never played well against the Eagles. Go figure.


Six goals straight to three points in the third and the game is over with a 44 point Eagles lead.  Collingwood look lost and leaderless without their generals.  Bucks won’t be inviting many players over to help him blow out the candles tonight.


The last quarter is a procession with the Eagles adding another five and Collingwood only one from a soft consolation free in the dying minutes.


I have been a Tim Kelly doubter but he is sublime today with great ability to break tackles and get his arms free to unerringly find team mates. BOG.  


Josh Kennedy marks everything and kicks seven straight on a day when the Eagles found the middle more than a politician at election time. Oscar Allen got my third vote for what he gave around the ground as well as holding his own in the ruck.


Plenty of others with big games.  Nic Nait hasn’t run out a game this well for years. Yeo and Shuey found their mongrel in the midfield and solid work from others outmuscled a Collingwood group that showed no appetite for the contest.  Scar tissue will run deep if we meet again in finals.


Even with players back I have always felt Collingwood struggle in big games without a marking forward.  Darcy Cameron looks better than Cox but its still a second best compared to Kennedy, Darling, Allen and Waterman for marking on a dry day.


Hurn and Sheppard were solid rebounders as ever in defence.  The middle rung of Ryan, Waterman, Duggan and Redden all made hay while the sun shone.


My reckoning is that the Eagles are the Lets Elope’s of the competition. Group One performers on a dry track and a big ground where we get our marking, possession and running game flowing. Spit on the track and we struggle to win an Improvers at Bendigo.  


Which makes for another of my grumbles.  Why is the main AFL hub in Queensland where its always wet and slippery in winter – even at night – where the humidity makes the footy greasy and games unattractive even on a warm day?


Is it the availability of resort accommodation in Bananaville? Generous travel and quarantine conditions? Victorian retirees? Or would VFL National do anything to spite footy in the traditional states?


Any way you look at it a finals series divided between Adelaide Oval and Optus Stadium is the only option that makes footy, safety, crowd and commercial sense.


Fingers crossed. For now all is well in Westralia and I turn 65 tomorrow.


All my birthdays have come at once.




WEST COAST         2.0       7.2       13.2     18.3 (111)

COLLINGWOOD     4.2       5.3       5.6       6.9 (45)


West Coast: Kennedy 7, Allen 3, Waterman 2, Naitanui, Gaff, Cripps, Ryan, Kelly, Darling

Collingwood: Cameron 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Elliott, Daicos


West Coast: Kelly, Kennedy, Allen, Naitanui, Yeo, Shuey, Gaff

Collingwood: Adams, Treloar, Crisp, Quaynor





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  1. Score flattered the Eagles PB (Pies put the cue in the rack) but they were very good.

    Kelly started the game poorly I thought (looked a bit lazy) but then took Collingwood to the cleaners after quarter time. He is a sublime player when he gets going. Eagles must be glad the Cats taught him everything he knows. Before that he apparently wasn’t good enough for the Eagles or Freo list. Extraordinary. Blinkered recruiters

    If finals are played over in WA then the Eagles are in the box seat. Superb midfield, dangerous forwards, solid defence. Oh, and home crowds! Remember those? We don’t.

    But even if Chairman Dan lets us out of his lock down I still can’t see games being played in Victoria this year. Could be a Lions v Eagles grand final played in SA!

  2. “Blinkered recruiters” Dips? Who did the Eagles draft with the pick they could have used to get Tim Kelly in 2017? Oscar Allen. As good as Kelly is – Allen is 5 years younger and will prove the player of the 2017 Draft. Not bad for Pick 21. Will have a 400 goal career as a CHF once he has finished growing into himself. Lovely hands and skills below knees for 192cm.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    I was envious of my Perth based sister being able to attend this game. She was envious of me not being able to attend at 3/4 time.

    Your observation of Grundy not playing well against West Coast is spot on. Too many 2018 references in this piece for me to read without having horrible flashbacks.

  4. PB- Your line about the old blokes waiting to tee off in the rain reminded me of our good fortune in simply being able to go to the footy. After being undefeated at home last year Glenelg have lost their first two at Brighton Road, but I’ve been there to watch. It’s been sunny and the footy reasonable although we’ve lost too many good ones to probably challenge this season.

    The crowds have been capped at a thousand but this Sunday it’ll be about 3,000 and I hope kids can get in for for nicks as they used to. Because of this the demographics have been skewed and I’ve missed them scrambling for the footy behind the Phillis End goals. It’s been a bit, can I say, Walking Dead. We play Sturt and the forecast is OK- no rain here all month.

  5. Daryl Schramm says

    After watching the 2nd half of Adel v Ess, the WCEE and Coll first half was a sight for sore eyes. So there IS footy in this stange AFL season worth watching after all. It made a pleasant change to what I had seen previously. HB fellow ’55 drop.

  6. Peter Fuller says

    Happy birthday, youngster. Your big birds did you proud, so I’m pleased that the AE induced to attend. As suggested elsewhere in the comments, they might well prove kings of the biggest game in 2020.

  7. John Butler says

    PB, it must be said you do a very convincing Captain Grumpy. As did your Eagles while they were in the Queensland huddle.

    WCE looked very good here, but the Pies were severely undermanned. May that continue until after we meet them.

    All the best to the AE. And happy birthday. :)

  8. Rulebook says

    HB PB probably as much as I’ve sort of watched a afl game in ages ( it was on in the background) pies v good early and then weagles ran all over them ( stopped watching when they were 6 up )
    ( really commented to wish you HB )

  9. E.regnans says

    Happy birthday Peter_B.
    Would love to have commented after an article that described happier circumstances.
    But that left testicle is still intact and I’m here with it. Love your work.

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