Sav Rocca – my childhood hero

Unable to sleep in bed at 2:30am is a good time for me to be having a nice scan of the sports section in the Herald Sun website. A familiar face catches my eye. It is the face of my childhood hero, Sav Rocca.

Growing up and watching Collingwood, Sav was my everything.

Being too young to judge and pick a favorite player based on looks, Sav was the first player I ever loved based on playing ability.

I couldn’t resist such a fit, strong athlete who would get the best reactions from commentators, yelling out “Roccccaaaaaaaaa!!!!!” as he launched off the turf.

I’d be lying if I said my eyes didn’t light up when he’d lead a surging pack and outmuscle them all.

Susie (Maria) Giese was Gary Ablett in her backyard footy career and I ladies and gents was ALWAYS Sav Rocca.

Until… that dark day came in 2000 when he was delisted.

I can still remember how I reacted to the news.

I cried, a lot.

I was just a kid, had no idea what it meant, I thought that he chose to leave and worst of all I came to hate my hero.

Sav was rescued by North Melbourne and it’s that very reason these days that I have a soft spot for the Roos. They took him in and gave him a chance after Mick Malthouse decided that Sav should retire after ‘a little bit of patella tendinitis.’

I can honestly say that when I read that I felt short of breath.

I didn’t think it possible for me to dislike Mick anymore than I already do.

It killed me to know that Mick was the reason my hero left- my hero who wanted to finish his whole career alongside his brother- my hero who went on to play another SIX DAMN SEASONS!……shit :(  that tore me up alright.

And so Sav continued his career in the proud royal blue and white, while young, unimpressionable Danni, thinking he left because he wanted to, hated him in every way she could. Then came the day that Dad noticed, must have had something to do with me saying I hated him, that’s when he put his plan into action.

For some reason every now and then Sav would train and play a few games in my dad’s volleyball team. So one night when he had training dad decided to take me with him so I could meet Sav, guess it was supposed to be like reconciliation or something. I went along with dad and I saw Sav walk in down the court, I remember feeling really hurt but at the same time I really wanted to meet him. Dad called him over and I being a really, REALLY shy kid couldn’t lift my gaze off the glossy court floor. He was friendly and tried to get me to talk but I wouldn’t and then dad embarrassed me as all dads do. He told Sav that I was really upset with him because he doesn’t play for Collingwood anymore.

How embarrassing…before that Sav woulda just thought I was shy, and then dad told him I hated him, thanks dad lol.

At that point my blush put a red fire hydrant to shame but surprisingly Sav laughed it off and dad started going on about how he was my favorite player. That’s when Sav must have felt sorry for me, ill never forget what he asked me next.

He asked if a hug would make me feel better about him playing for North, miraculously I managed to nod and got a hug off my hero, suddenly all was well again.

I’m glad to have shared that moment with you all, glad to have watched my hero play in not only black and white but royal blue too. And so I just want to say thank you to Sav. I was there when he played his last footy game, crying in the stands, proud tears.

In a way he brought together two clubs, two kinds of supporters who can appreciate all he did.

I wish him all the best luck in his NFL career but deep down to me, he will always be a Magpie, and most importantly he will always be my hero.   <3

About Danielle Eid

Im 23, cute and most importantly im the Collingwood Football Club's very own PRINCESS!! :) A Latrobe Uni graduate from Bachelor of Journalism. Admirer of Samantha Lane and Jon Ralph. Not your typical 'Robot Journalist' Loves Alex Fasolo


  1. Steve Fahey says


    A four-year old Holly (who will be horrified for me to declare the last bit of this story publically) also had “Big Sav” as her favourite. We called Anthony “Little Sav” ! After Sav was delisted she sent him a drawing saying that she still loved him even though he wasn’t playing for the Pies any more !!

  2. Steve Fahey says

    P.S. Great story…..and there’s no bad time to read the sports section

  3. Steve Healy says

    Danni, nice article.

    It’s great to see you mention Sav Rocca ahead of Anzac Day as he was the big story in the first game in 1995. And I had no idea you met him, but I imagine the hug off him would’ve been nice.

  4. lee donovan says

    and who said footballers aren’t role models

  5. Sorry for my late reply to comments people, been busy rushing around for my uncle’s wedding this Sunday. Wish me luck,I’m reading the gospel at the church.

    Steve F- how cute! :) Holly has good taste in heroes :)

    Steve H- Thanks :) yep the hug was memorable.

    Lee- Yeah you hear that a lot but i disagree, footy players are role models if they like it or not, kid always look up to them.

  6. johnharms says

    Is the reading from the Gospel according to Eddie? Nathan? Mick? Nick?

  7. Very nice story Dani. In hindsight, Mick shopped the wrong Rocca, guess he went for the younger option.

  8. Damo Balassone says

    Nice story Danni. Great to see Sav rewarded with 2 retrospective Anzac Medals this week (not that this means anything to non-Collingwood/Essendon supporters, of course).

    The saddest thing about the Sav Rocca & Collingwood story is not his delisting by Mick Malthouse at the end of 2000 – but the way Sav was treated by Tony Shaw in 1996-1999. Shawry would drag him way too often when the chips were down. Okay, he wasn’t the most aggressive full-forward, but under Lethal he kicked 73 goals in ’93 as a 19 year old, and 93 goals in ’95 as a 21 year old. He actually would have won the Coleman in ’97 had Shawry not have dragged him so much that season (he kicked 76 goals to Modra’s 81). Also, remember the Pies midfield was at a 20 year low in these years (besides Bucks and possibly Paul Williams).

    Though Sav served North well, Anthony Rocca was a much better option post-2000. He was more aggresive, more versatile and very good contested mark. He was a genuine match winner in 2001-03 and was the league’s leading contested mark in 2006-07, kicking over 50 goals in both those seasons.

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