Almanac Footy: Scott Pendlebury – Record Breaker



Joshua Reynolds with Scott Pendlebury




It’s late in the second quarter of Round 9, 2017. Hawthorn are leading Collingwood by 43 points. Nathan Buckley may only have a half of football left in his coaching career. I’m in the Ponsford Stand, head in hands, totally numb. The great hopes of the Buckley era, the succession plan, the dominance we were supposed to enjoy after the 2010 flag, have all but dissipated.


Just over an hour later, the Magpie army is roaring in jubilation. After drawing back level at three quarter time, Collingwood run out 18 point winners. The coach will fight on for another week. While the whole team lifted after a Buckley half-time roasting, it was the Magpie skipper who led from the front, gaining possession after quality possession, dragging his team forward. Pendelbury’s goal from 45m out in the last quarter brought the house down. His play in his 245th game, his leadership, his captain’s goal, gave us of the black & white persuasion faith again. It certainly wasn’t the first nor the last time we’d see such a performance from the skipper.


While the three clubs that joined the VFL in 1925 (Footscray/Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn & North Melbourne) have produced twenty 300 game players between them, oddly Collingwood had only had the two reach the milestone since 1897, in Gordon Coventry and Tony Shaw, until the 2019 Qualifying Final. There was much love for “Pendles” at the ‘G that night as Collingwood went in as underdogs against the ladder topping Cats. A typical Pendlebury game of 25 mostly quality disposals and a third quarter goal ensued. The Pies got up. Sadly game 301, the Preliminary Final, did not go so well for Collingwood.


And now, tonight, Scott Pendlebury claims two Collingwood records. Game number 314 sees him overtake Tony Shaw as the club’s games record holder, while his 162nd game as captain sees him pass Nathan Buckley for the most games as skipper of the Magpies. Two records that could not go to a more deserving Collingwood man.


The career of Scott Pendlebury has coincided with a time from where I went from a semi-regular to a regular attendee of Collingwood games. Being at the debut game of any player is a special moment, more so later on if the player makes a name for himself. I remember being at the MCG on a Saturday night in 2006 as Collingwood player 1,058 ran out for the first time against Brisbane. I don’t recall as well any of the 11 touches the lad from Gippsland Power had in the number 16 guernsey, but the 2005 number 5 draft pick was underway with his career. Straight into the number 10 for the 2007 season.


From 2008-2015, what a duo Dane Swan and Pendles were. Such a joy to watch them dominate, gathering kicks and handballs at will week after week. Swannie the rogue, cult hero. Pendlebury the smooth mover, the general, a leader before he was made captain. 2010 was their year. Swan should have won the Brownlow. He got it 12 months later. Pendlebury was magnificent throughout, ill during the drawn Grand Final, a clear cut choice as Norm Smith medalist in the replay with 20 kicks and 9 handballs.


Has Collingwood ever had a more consistent player over such a long time? Pendlebury has barely put in a poor performance over the journey. Even a quiet game will still see 20-odd mostly sublime disposals. Whilst his ability to seemingly make play slow down around him and his vision to find a teammate amongst a congested area of play is well documented, his skill on both sides of his body don’t seem get the recognition it deserves. It can be easy to forget Pendlebury is a natural left-footer such is his proficiency on his right boot.


From the outside Pendles has looked a strong leader ever since he took over the captaincy in 2014. An outstanding role model on and off the field. There’s been no controversies, no drama, no bad off-field decisions; barring the odd questionable haircut.


2019 saw a niggle free Pendlebury right back at his best. Still a mighty presence in the midfield, his selection in the All-Australian team was well deserved. Probably unlucky not to make the team at least a couple of times between 2014 and 2018, his 2019 All-Australian selection was his 6th overall. Add in his 5 Copeland trophies, 3 ANZAC Day Medals, Norm Smith and Premiership Medals and we have one of the most decorated Magpies of all time, a modern day Collingwood great whose career stacks up against anyone else, his coach included.


His 2020 season has seen no decline. Apart from a few games missed with injury, Pendlebury has been his consistent self. He looked magnificent wearing the Big V back in March.


Unlike some players who limp to 300 games, to milestones, there’s plenty left in the Pendlebury tank. No major injuries or regular soft tissue afflictions. Still the best on field leader at the club.


Scott Pendlebury has been my favourite Collingwood player of the past 20 years. He stands alongside Peter Daicos, Gavin Brown and Buckley as the best I’ve seen in black and white. It’s been a joy, a privilege and thoroughly enjoyable to watch him go about his work, to see his exquisite skill live, to have him as our leader. We will cheer him on from our loungeroom tonight, marvel at his skill, be inspired by his leadership. One day we’ll be back in the Ponsford Stand, where we will cheer him on from our seats, urge him on to game 350. Who knows, 400 might be a chance. He could retire right now though and be remembered as an all-time great.


Congratulations Scott on breaking two significant Collingwood records, thanks for all the joy you’ve given to the Magpie army.


Go Pendles, Go Pies.



This is an edited and updated version of Luke’s tribute to Scott Pendlebury in The Tigers Almanac (2019).



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About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Beautiful tribute Luke. I wonder if there has ever been a more consistent player in the history of the game than Pendlebury? Prior to this season, he had completed 13 stellar seasons in a row (albeit with a broken finger which prematurely ended his 2017 campaign). I believe his glorious run started in 2007 (his second season) when he finished 2nd in the Copeland. In fact, he has finished in the top 3 in all Copeland Trophy counts since 2007 with the exception of 2009 (when he missed 4 games with a leg injury) and 2017 (when he missed 6 games with a broken finger) – in both of those years he finished 6th in the Copeland. With due respect to 2012 Copeland Trophy winner Dayne Beams, I think it’s fair to say that had it not been for a leg injury in mid-2012 Pendles would have won 6 Copelands in a row in 2011-2016…and he may have even given 2017 a shake had it not been for that finger.

    The All-Australian teams/squads and the Brownlow Medal are also great indicators of consistency. Aside from 2017, Pendlebury has been in every All-Australian squad since 2009 i.e. 10 out of the last 11 years, with six inclusions in the final team. He would have gone close this year too if not for the hammy. Furthermore he has polled at least 13 votes in every Brownlow since 2009. I wonder if that is an AFL record?

  2. Crackers, I am no lover of Collingwood, that is for sure.

    But credit where it is due: Scott Pendlebury is and has been a champion of the game. Nothing less than a superb player and leader. How fortunate Collingwood were to select him. In almost half a century of watching footy, to me he is easily the most consistently excellent footballer I have seen, and sits easily in the top dozen or so players I have had the good fortune to witness play live.

    For a period of time some years ago, he and his then girlfriend (and now wife) Alex lived around the corner from me. That is a story for the NFA, perhaps?

  3. Pendlebury is a joy to watch. Taking in opposition players is normally like watching a bulldog chewing a wasp, but some players just get you in: Pendlebury is one of them. James Hird was another. Nathan Buckley another. Voss, Akermanis, Black…………you get my drift. Brilliant players all of them.

  4. Great tribute love,Pendelbury as a player time stands still best vision in the game as far as consistency goes he reminds me of Michael Kingo Taylor and can’t get any higher praise than that

  5. Peter Fuller says

    A wonderful tribute, fully justified. You have clocked Pendlebury’s outstanding attributes. His sustained excellence is remarkable, and I’m pleased to be reminded of the extraordinary list of his achievements. The greats always have more time, and he is the exemplar of this attribute in the modern game. I agree with Dips that our partisan prejudice usually precludes our acknowledging or even noticing opposition players, but Pendlebury is a joy to watch. Dips’ list probably suggests a separate post about the players from teams other than your own you love to watch.

  6. Great tribute Luke. He’s been so very good for so very long. I can’t think of anyone who has seemed to have more time and space. I’ve not often written of opposition players, but back in 2014 said this of SP after a Crows and Magpies game- “Showing us his remarkable composure yet again, Scott Pendlebury is the best Magpie on Adelaide oval. When next crossing a feverish Vietnamese road with lurching wooden boxes of perplexed poultry, in, say, Ho Chi Minh City, I want him to chaperone me across the tarmac, between the cars, trucks, and swerving motorcycles. When will he claim his Brownlow?”

    Can easily see him going around for a few more seasons. Good luck in the finals.

  7. Good on you Luke.
    Yes, us magpies are certainly lucky to have seen him through the years.
    Operating on another plane.
    Week after week.
    Sidestep after sidestep.
    Feign after feign.
    Grinding run after grinding run.
    Wrong-footed floating handball after wrong-footed floating handball.
    Goal after goal.

    Your story drew me back to footy and last night I watched my first game for the year.
    Thanks Luke.

  8. Nicole Kelly says

    Well done, Luke. Yes, no limping to the line for him. That’s the beautiful thing that he has so many games left in him with a bit of luck.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks for the comments. Last night didn’t pan out as we’d hoped but lovely to see the tributes in all media, on TV and the great man being chaired off.

    Damian- Robert Harvey is the only other player I’ve seen that played at a similar long term consistent level as Pendles. But backing our man.

    Smokie- high praise indeed. Look forward to that story at the NFA.

    Dips- agree. There’s been two Geelong players with the exact same name who’ve got me in over the last 35 years. But you appreciate your own more.

    Rulebook- Taylor was just before my time but understand your reverence for him, big compliment coming from you.

    Peter- yes, opposition players have to be extra special (or extra annoying) to gain our attention.

    Mickey- love it. Reminds me of George Costanza trying to cross the road with the ‘Frogger’ machine in heavy traffic.

    ER- “Sidestep after sidestep.
    Feign after feign.
    Grinding run after grinding run.
    Wrong-footed floating handball after wrong-footed floating handball.
    Goal after goal.”
    You said it better than I did.
    Glad this got you back watching the Pies last night. Sorry about that.

    Thanks Nicole, yes he’s far from done, has never relied on pace, plenty of good footy left in our skipper.

  10. Hopefully I’ll be editing your next version for game 400, Luke. A stellar career with a lot more to be written you’d suspect. Came through in a golden patch for Gippy lads (Roughy, Daisy, Pendles) too, but you’d have to say he’s *close* to the best we’ve produced…certainly since the Power started.

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