The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 1 – North Melbourne v Collingwood

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before the website ever existed. In the absence of play in the 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on the internet. Enjoy!




Kangaroos versus Collingwood

2.10pm, Saturday, March 31

Melbourne Cricket Ground






THE DISPASSIONATE OBSERVER, if such a creature exists, went into this match with suspicions of a nil-all draw. The Kangas were without their three main scorers from 2006, Sav Rocca, Nathan Thompson and Leigh Harding. Unacknowledged, too, was that their next forward in line, Aaron Edwards, had been implicated in the drug crisis that dominated the pre-season media coverage and had not been picked for this match. For the Pies, the effect of Chris Tarrant’s departure to Fremantle was magnified when Sean Rusling was injured.


Level three of the Members’ Stand at the MCG is a relatively quiet place to watch footy. It offers a good view of the ground and easy access to a new TAB facility with multiple screens. Having dissected the form for Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill I was ready for a big day. Though critics may bag the leather patches that prevail in the Members’, it’s the best sporting ticket in town.


In some ways this match was a tale of two Thomases. Collingwood’s Dale, the glamour boy, was promising to take the next step. North’s recruit Lindsay, a 79-kilogram left-footer from the Port Adelaide Magpies, and one of four debutants in the Kangas’ team, threatened to make an impact from the outset.


The match began with coaches agreeing to man-on-man tactics. The Kangas looked committed to play on at all costs. Skipper Adam Simpson set the example: head over the footy, tackling ferociously, forcing turnovers. Anthony Rocca’s early benching was not a good omen for the Pies, but some individual brilliance from Leon Davis kicked them into gear. It didn’t take long to work out that Lindsay Thomas was the archetypal flanker-opportunist. Although he failed to convert his chances he was damaging enough to demand the attention of James Clement.


The first break allowed fans to retreat into the stands and watch the great Miss Finland notch up her fifth Group One race and $4 million in stakes. As she toyed with her opponents, I was reminded of a magic moment in the Southern Stand when hundreds crammed around televisions to see Octagonal win the 1996 AJC Derby.


Early in the second term the footy was so mistake-ridden it looked like errors would play a critical role in deciding the result. (It’s a worry when it’s the clangers you remember.) North’s Daniel Pratt stubbed his toe when taking a free kick. Heath Shaw hilariously failed to gather and convert a goal – from the goal square. More bloopers followed.


The crowd wanted excitement after the summer’s wait. North’s intensity wearied them. Collingwood reacted, kicking long and direct, bringing Rocca in to the game. The Ponsford Stand, home to the Magpie members, came alive. The Pies play more positively when heading towards it.


North maintained the pressure. Despite their commitment, they couldn’t convert. From the moment debutant Lachlan Hansen, pick No.3 in the 2006 national draft, came on, he was shown the value of experience by his wily old opponent, Shane Wakelin, who was superb in defence.


As the players left the ground at half-time the Pies fans engaged in their ritual hooting of the umpires. Instinctively. The abuse was misdirected. At that point, it was the players who were butchering the game.


I was in no hurry to return from the TAB. A hot chocolate and Forensics’ Golden Slipper victory were far more attractive, occupying the opening minutes of the third term. The game was really stagnating. The bar remained the best option at this juncture, although chasing losses at Moonee Valley can be FWD (fraught with danger). A grand total of one goal and eight behinds – 1.5 to North and three behinds to Collingwood – were scored for the third quarter and ABC radio responded discerningly, playing no highlights package at the break. The Roos led by 25 points. Comfortable.


A new game unfolded upon resumption: five goals in the opening seven minutes, desperate acts, North choking. The Kangas, who had been all go, go, go, were now stop, prop, and drop. The exhausted Simpson needed a donkey or a stretcher-bearer. Archer’s jaw was bound. Brady Rawlings tried in vain to keep Ben Johnson under wraps. Incredibly, the game appeared to be slipping away from North before Brent Harvey, that fantastic show-off, baulked Presti and showed them how to win.


The two Thomases are fair gauges for their teams. Dale took all day to get going, but had a big last quarter, ably assisted by Tarkyn Lockyer and Scott Burns. Lindsay, meanwhile, was caned by Clement. Had his conversion rate been better than a Briedisesque five behinds, Lindsay may have been hailed a match winner.


In the tense last minutes North played two on two in the forward line: Leigh Brown as the marking option and Lindsay Thomas as the crumber. But when Thomas, unable to restrain himself, flew for a speccy, the ball spilled to where he should have been. Collingwood countered, sweeping the ball into the forward line, where, in a similar scenario, Rocca contested, Paul Medhurst stayed down, gathered the crumb, and converted. The Pies were coming. When Ben Johnson nailed a check-side kick from the trainer’s seat, Collingwood hit the front. North had stopped. All seemed lost.


Yet still they should have won. Grant led strongly, got away from Heath Shaw, and marked 45 metres out. Shaw’s momentum carried him forward, and he stupidly grabbed Grant. The whole MCG knew the consequences. Including the umpire, Stuart Wenn, who awarded the 50-metre penalty. Inexplicably he shortened it to 35 metres. Grant, who should have been kicking from the goal line, banged the ball into the post.


So North lost. And everyone hooted the umpires.



Kangaroos 3.4 7.10 8.15 10.19 (79)
Collingwood 2.1 5.5 5.8 12.10 (82)



Collingwood: Medhurst 2; Davis, Cloke, Pendlebur y, Clement, Licuria, Lockyer, Thomas, Maxwell, Burns, Johnson.

Kangaroos: Har vey 3; Grant, Jones 2; Brown, Hale, Trotter.



Collingwood: Lockyer, Clement, Thomas, Wakelin.

Kangaroos: Har vey, Simpson, McIntosh, Harris.




Medhurst (Collingwood) 100 games;

O’Bree (Collingwood) 150 games with current club.


DEBUTS Campbell, Hansen, Riggo, Thomas (Kangaroos).
UMPIRES Hendrie, K. Nicholls, Wenn.
BETFAIR ODDS Kangaroos $2.24; Collingwood $1.80..
OUR VOTES Harvey (K) 3, Lockyer (Coll.) 2, Simpson (K) 1.
BROWNLOW Simpson (K) 3, H. Shaw (Coll.) 2, Harvey (K) 1..


CROWD  44,760



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2007 Footy Almanac



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  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Remember that day all too well.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    “when Sean Rusling was injured”. Which was all the time. A massive talent never able to shine.

  3. matt watson says

    You’d back Grant to kick that goal every time.
    I remember listening to the radio commentary.
    The short 50m penalty and the football smacking into the goalpost like a bullet.

  4. Tim Johnson says

    Was at that game, sitting in the members behind the Pies bench, where a mate and I speculated profanely at half time how Collingwood had spent their off-season.

    The only thing that kept us there at 3/4 time was having recently watched Year Of The Dog and seeing Footscray’s near-comeback against the Pies on the same ground. Even so, we still should have lost that game given the shortish 50 and clanger into the post.

    Medhurst was epic that day, and sported possibly the most audacious footballing haircut I’ve ever seen.

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