As a youngster I had never been exposed to a Collingwood premiership.

It was not until 1970 that the black and whites finally made it to a grand final in my memory. That day they looked home and hosed after leading by 44 pts at half time. Then Ronald Dale Barassi unleashed an unknown in Ted Hopkins on an unsuspecting Magpie army. Such was the glee with which those around me enjoyed the Magpie’s demise it soon became obvious that unless you followed Collingwood they were to be resisted at every opportunity. After venturing to the local hostelry – The Star & Garter – for a well earned beverage I recall Ian ‘Hummer’ Rollins spruiking, “Thank god for ‘Barass’ and Hopkins, they’ve saved us from hell.” Then Alan ‘Rorty’ Turner (aka Bats Ears) lifted his head from the back pool table and bellowed, “Yeah, bugger Collingwood, can’t stand ‘em.”  From all reports Bob Rose was a good bloke.

For the next 6 seasons grand final day became a more orderly affair with supporters of the various teams outwardly showing support with the remainder taking sides with either one or gently treading middle ground.

In 1977 that all changed. It was back to Collingwood and non-Collingwood or in this case North Melbourne. After a nail-biting draw North Melbourne’s Arnold Briedis led the way with five replay goals to sink the hapless Pies. We’ve been saved again came the cry from our next door neighbor Harry Britain, a former Pom now Aussie welder. Harry had knowledge on everything and considered himself a true Aussie. I didn’t know Harry followed footy; all he ever talked about was how good things were “back in the old country”. Dad said, “If it’s so good Harry, why don’t you go back?” I later found out Harry’s boss, Stan Forbes, was a rabid Collingwood man. Seems the Pommy nark was about way back then.

I went to the 1979 final. I stayed complimentary in one of the ‘suites’ at the George Hotel in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. I’d become acquainted with Harry Jenkins who recruited ‘Royce’ to Richmond from the Apple Isle. Like Maradonna and Madonna he was just called Royce. The George was under the management of a bloke called J K ‘Todd’ Shelton and his partner Graeme Richmond known only as GR. I was pretty much oblivious to GR’s involvement in footy; all I knew was he loved Richmond and spoke about footy incessantly. On the other hand his partner Todd, was a racing man, which interested me no end. I soon learned that GR more than loved Richmond football club, he ran it; but his name wasn’t over the door. I recall Todd recanting on the Sunday after Wayne Harmes desperate lunge had saved Carlton (and others) on grand final day. Things were looking bleak after former Richmond players Kevin Morris was in everything while forward Allan ‘Butch’ Edwards put the Magpies in front late in the final term. Meanwhile Magpie Tom, as they called Tommy Hafey after his defection to (heaven forbid) the archenemy, pulled the coaching strings and was about to steal the cup. GR had pulled the collar up on his coat ready for a speedy exit. “But Harmes saved ‘em” Todd recalled. Adding, “Where is that recorded as a stat – that punch of Harmes’? Where’s that Harry? They’ll die with clipboards under the arms the lot of ‘em. Don’t talk to me about stats!” he ranted. Then we all headed off to Punt Road for a Pleasant Sunday Morning.

A year later and the Tigers were on the prowl. On the Friday before the grand final GR, Todd and I had lunch in a little eatery along the street from the George called the Bamff Cafe. A bloke named Terry stormed in midway through the meal. Terry was the Richmond Team Manager – whatever that meant – and in real life was a Sgt of Police. In a very anxious, almost breathless voice he declares Peter Daicos a “danger-man” and what could we do to stop him. It seemed that those close to the team consulted GR on every move. Without even lifting his head GR replied in that typical calculating voice, “If Daicos is between us and the premiership make room on the wall for the flag, Cocko.” GR called everyone Cocko. Terry became calm after that.

Next day Sir Philip Lynch entertained at the Punt Road breakfast as Freddy Swift led the Tiger faithful to a rousing rendition of ‘We’re from Tigerland’. Then, for a couple of hours after 2 pm KB (Kevin Bartlett) exploded with 7 goals, Big Clokie (David Cloke) took charge at Centre Half Forward and The General (Mark Lee) dominated the centre bounces. The Tigers marched to a record breaking grand final win and the Colliwobbles became a reality. Once again Grand final day regained some form of civility.

Ten years elapsed before the threat re-emerged. It was 1990 and I had truly mellowed, some say dropped my guard. I remarked to a mate that I thought I’d like to see Collingwood win it. Let me tell you that met with an almighty outburst. “You can’t let them up. You’ve got no idea how they carry on when they get on top,” he ranted; harking back to the 50’s when he was a kid and how his cousins played for Collingwood and how the uncles used to squabble. No way can you let that happen – “Wake up to yourself,” he snapped. I’d never experienced a Collingwood flag but I wish I’d never said that either.

As fate would have it the Magpies arrived under Lethal Leigh and my mate was right. People who never spoke about footy suddenly not only barracked for Collingwood but also seemed to have done so all their lives! They were overloaded with football knowledge. It was unbearable. Essendon won the fight though.

Once we got beyond the millennium Brisbane’s dominance became extremely pleasurable.

By the end of 2009 however my memory had dimmed. The last upheaval was already 20 years past. As my wife commented it is like childbirth, you forget after a while. Well 2010 was a nightmare. Technology was upon us and it started on preliminary final day. Texts from absolute morons quoting scores from roster matches at Victoria Park as far back as the 70’s and then the unthinkable. They were in there again. I just call them ‘them’ or ‘they’ now. I just can’t call them by name. Unfortunately Stephen Milne was between them and us. How could he save us, he couldn’t save himself. The electronic barrage was also unbearable. The media frenzy was unrelenting too. According to all and sundry they had somehow revolutionized the game, as we knew it, they spoke approvingly of the Rommel Press and trumpeted back to back. The subsequent gathering at Victoria Park was likened to the second coming. Bloody heathens!

Well, to all you non-Collingwood supporters out there thank the Cats for saving you yet again. And just for the record, rest easy because they appear to be in tatters and methinks there will be Eagles, Hawks, Blues, Bombers and Dockers breathing down everyone’s neck next season. And despite what a green-eyed Michael Voss may have said, the Cat will still steal a little cream in 2011.

See you then.

Daryl Sharpen



  1. Brilliant Daryl

  2. Great history. Great writing. Great hating. “In victory revenge; in defeat malice.” Love it. Thanks Daryl.

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