Round 9 – Collingwood v North Melbourne: Pies redesign their brain to avert pain in the rain

So there was Redesign my Brain smarty pants Todd Sampson standing atop a 120m high rock tower having climbed it blindfolded. Ahead is one final challenge entailing a 30cm wide 10 metre long ridge to the peak. There’s a gap requiring a small jump, or alternately one can straddle the journey on their butt.  Sampson’s mentor, standing on the other side, recommends the latter.

This momentous challenge required six weeks of intense training that principally involved pain management techniques, adaptability and problem solving. It was gripping TV.

“The body manifests what the mind harbours”.
A. Jeans

To the game and I boldly brought my boy and girl in the hope a Collingwood win would captivate soccer-mad Luke as much as the Melbourne Victory.

Alas Todd Goldstein is Gary Dempsey, marking at will and enabling North’s running fleet to slice open the flat footed Pies. The Kangaroos simply play organised footy; the Magpies defence no match for talls Waite, Petrie and Brown and smalls Thomas and Nahas.

Only North’s erroneous kicking has the margin at 39 rather than 59 points at the long break. The highlight for Luke and Siena thus far is an impressive rainbow over the ‘G which evaporated as quickly as our chances.

To salvage something from our sorry excursion, half time is spent having a kick in Yarra Park. That they still wanted a Swan and Sidebottom badge was something. In their hopeful eyes at least, all was not lost.

momentum (n): an elusive, contagious state of mind which translates to abnormally high energy and confidence.
J. B. Dowsing D.Psych

I’ve attended hundreds of Collingwood games and I’ve rarely witnessed such a monumental change of fortunes. The Pies play like men possessed. I think of Sampson’s encounter with a military man whose knife/taser exercise served as a lesson in the power of adrenaline and focus to mask pain and fatigue.

Everything works.  At one stage Pendlebury has the ball on the boundary near the arc.

Luke: ‘Kick it to Jamie, c’mon!’ (being a huge Elliott fan.)

Me: ‘Nah, he’s too small and it’s too crowded’ (there’s 36 players in the forward line.)

Pendles pinpoints Jamie.  Goal.  OK, I know nothing.

“Oh, Billy, Billy…”
– Judge Smails (Caddyshack)

Now incomprehensively 13 points ahead we’ve adapted, problem solved and almost climbed the mountain.  Only the precarious ridge awaits. My mind wanders forward to post match celebrations with the kids. I want this badly now – it’ll be a victory to reminisce for years. It’ll be a life lesson in persistence.

And sure enough, on the rare occasion I get ahead of myself I/we pay the price.  North’s four quick goals reclaim the lead.  I think of Sampson almost at the summit and removing his blindfold.  Only then he went weak at the knees.  The end is in sight but the stakes are now apparent. We’re wobbling.

North fluffs opportunities to seal the deal. Pass me a blindfold and cigarette Luke.

Swaneeeee! Unlike Sampson he uses his butt (to mark) and we’re back in front.

I need to restrain my brain before I frighten the kids. They find my celebration amusing though. The weather turns slightly Biblical.

We’re blind Sampson again, standing at the gap. Do we get down on our haunches and play out time or do we jump?  There’s too much time.

Crisp, Adams, Seedsman, Blair and Elliott bore in. Goals to Blair and Elliott extend the margin. No more time!

Like Sampson’s mentor when he unbelievably chose a leap of faith, the three of us are standing there wide eyed and mouths agape.

1.2   4.3  13.5  17.10 (112)
4.4  10.6  10.9   14.11 (95)

J Elliott 5 A Fasolo 2 D Swan 2 B Grundy J Blair J Crisp J White J Witts S Pendlebury S Sidebottom T Cloke.
North Melbourne: J Waite 3 R Nahas 3 D Petrie 2 J MacMillan L Thomas R Bastinac S Gibson S Higgins T Goldstein.

Elliott, Pendlebury, Swan, Sidebottom, Crisp, Frost, Fasolo, Varcoe.
North Melbourne: Goldstein, Cunnington, Nahas, Waite, Gibson, Harvey, Bastinac, Ziebell.

Malarkey Medal: 3. Elliott, 2. Sidebottom, 1. Swan

Umpires: Justin Schmitt, Mathew Nicholls, Andrew Mitchell

Attendance: 43,452

About Jeff Dowsing

Washed up former Inside Sport and Sunday Age Sport freelancer. Now just giving my stuff away to good homes. Not to worry, still have my health and day job. Published & unpublished works fester on my blog Write Line Fever.


  1. Magnifico Jeff

  2. DBalassone says

    Biblical indeed Jeff. Wasn’t it magnificent? I think you might need to add a chapter to “Collingwood’s 50 Most Sensational Games”. Was racking the brains yesterday trying to recall some of the great comebacks since I’ve been following the Pies – came up with the following:
    1980 late in the season vs Fitzroy, coming from 25 points down at 3/4 time.
    1984 Round 1 vs. Melbourne, coming from 27 points down at the 13 minute mark of the last quarter.
    1986 Round 16 vs. Fitzroy, coming from about 5 goals down at half time.
    1987 Round 4 vs. Richmond, coming from 39 points down at 3/4 time (mind you Tigers lost about 3 games from that position that year).
    2001 Round 9 vs. St Kilda, coming from 36 points down at half time.
    2014 Anzac Day, great win after conceding first 6 goals.
    I reckon Sunday’s comeback was right up there with all of these, maybe better. Still can’t believe it!

  3. Thanks TBone & Damian.

    From hazy memory Daics kicked one with a torp from about 65m on the boundary in that ’84 steal at Vic Park. There’s a couple you mention DB even I struggle to recall.

    Hesitantly going back into the ground for the 2nd half and I was happy enough for my kids’ sake we started having a real crack and kicked a few. Then we just kept going. Weird game – hard to say how much the momentum swings were due to the good play of one side or the poorness of the other. The few North fans there had every right to be filthy how they lost it though.

    Be that as it may, there’s a strong case for making a space in C50MSG Damo.

  4. Kids still talking about the win JD? Footy season has ceased to exist in my house this year.

  5. Luke has spent the past couple days launching himself off the couch catching a balloon screaming ‘Elliooott!’. Cute and fills my heart with joy but I’m tipping I’m about to reach peak Elliott soon.

    Maybe just start playing Blues vids from the mid 1990’s and tell them it’s this year… Being in Singa you’d get away with it wouldn’t you?

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Exhilarating stuff JD.
    Damo, excellent list. I reckon coming back from 5 goals down early in the last quarter against the Eagles in the West back in 1992 also rates as we lost Craig Kelly to a knee early.
    This one will be remembered for a while.

  7. ramondobb says

    Brilliant JD. Love the subtext of “daring to dream” about celebrations and life lessons after we hit the front but with way too much time left in the game, I grappled with this as well.

    As for comebacks, that 1987 Tiges game was a classic, whilst it was 39 points at 3/4 time deep in the 3rd it was 51 points. BT started a barney and somehow we lifted! Also love Phil’s 92 Eagles comeback on a saturated Subi oval.

    This one was a win for the ages and loving all the emotion in all the reports from both sides perspective.

  8. DBalassone says

    Good call Phil. Will never forget that precious Troy Lehmann behind. Always the toughest ground to win at way out west. Ah ’92 the year that could have ….

  9. In reference to the comment below:

    I think of Sampson’s encounter with a military man whose knife/taser exercise served as a lesson in the power of adrenaline and focus to mask pain and fatigue.

    Does anyone know what episode/season of redesign my brain this is from?

  10. The first one of season 2 PT, it was on last Thursday night at 8.30 on the ABC. You can watch it on iView here;

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Jeff. I’m still on a high after that win.
    What a way to help Luke (and his sister) become rusted on fans by being witness to that comeback.
    There’s nothing wrong with supporting both the Pies and the Victory!

  12. Great story Jeff. Despite the amazing comeback win, do you think we could enroll a couple of inaccurate kicks from the Pies into the redesign my brain series? Seriously, is it too late for this season? I know Sampson was achieving great things in series 1 (didn’t know there was a 2) with only a few weeks training. Didn’t we come from a fair way back (seemed to be) against our nemesis Hawks in that prelim final which we won by a few points (2010 or 11)?

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