The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 10 – Collingwood v Fremantle: Family, Fremantle, failure

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!



Collingwood versus Fremantle

7.40pm, Friday, June 1

Melbourne Cricket Ground



IN 1996 I MOVED FROM PERTH TO MELBOURNE and I got to see Freo play Collingwood at Victoria Park. I had been warned. My stepson, then (and still) a dyed-in-the-wool Richmond fan, was just seven. From the depths of his laundry basket he produced a Magpies jumper. Clearly he was taking no chances. We took up our places in the Rush Stand, kept our heads down and hoped for the best.


The Dockers were flogged, and players like the great Dale Kickett were given a racist bucketing from the wits behind the goals. Their barely restrained aggression reminded me of the Sunday League matches around Fremantle that I watched as a child. The biffo was as likely in the car park as on the field.


Times change. Tonight, a luminous full moon rises over the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I watch Freo take on the Pies from the comfort of the Members’ Stand. I am with two Pies diehards: Steve, an editor, and Kath, an architect who designs warehouses (not those inner-city conversions, but big functional factory types). The J.T. Rush Stand rattles dimly in my memory. Once, Freo fans were few, and if we now number still less than one in ten, well, we still stand out in our purple, green, red and white.


The opening is equally bright. Matthew Pavlich slickly slots one, and David Mundy snaps; we’re two goals up before Collingwood blink. Aaron Sandilands is controlling the ruck like a Flinders Street copper. “Watch my hand,” he seems to say. Paul Hasleby and Josh Carr read him to the letter and drive the Dockers forward. And it’s forward where the trouble begins. Pavlich, one of the game’s best set-shots, has lost his range. From about 35 metres out he sprays it. You can hear the contact of boot and ball and it ain’t sweet.


Fifteen minutes in and Kath’s phone rings. “Steve, your wife is in labour!” Before you can shout Ball! Steve is on his feet and heading for the turnstiles. Duty first, and Steve disappears into the night.


Goals sometimes come easy early on, but in time things tighten up and the real contest starts. Collingwood begin to assert themselves. Sandilands’ taps are grabbed by Swan and Lockyer and fed to Davis and Rocca. They do what Pavlich, Solomon and (we’ll get to him) Tarrant can’t: they kick straight. At the break it’s Freo by five points.


I head to the bar to talk football and family with Kath. She admires the stylish refit of the stadium, the sense of weightlessness and space, the hardwood floors, the glass and angled steel. She’s anxious about the Pies; they’re pressing but Freo still look slick and able to cause an upset.


I am not the only one to change cities in this affair. Paul Medhurst is starting to earn his stripes. Once a show-pony, he is now a workhorse and two moments in the third quarter exemplify this. The first is a crunching collision with a Freo defender; Medhurst grabs the ball and whips a handpass to Didak like he has been doing it all his life. Didak drives it home and the Pies are within a point. Moments later, Medhurst marks on his chest outside fifty and hoofs it long to Rocca, who marks it inches above the ground. He converts and the Pies lead. The roar sends a shudder through the Freo faithful.


While Medhurst toils, Tarrant flails comically. Everything that leaves his boot floats and spins like the ugly mongrel punt it is. His inability to kick to a target, let alone the goals, is sure evidence that elite sport is a game played mostly between the ears. Perhaps he was beaten before he ran onto the park. He marks well and covers acres of ground but never, ever, threatens to kick straight. The Collingwood mob are merciless. Blessing themselves and banishing the foe they scream: “You’re not worthy to be one of us, Tarrant!” Such humility.


If Tarrant is the clown, Leon Davis is the magician: kicking look-away goals, marking one hand over taller opponents and converting from a long way out. Where Dale Thomas tries to work his brilliance on this night, Davis simply is. When Collingwood struggles, it is Davis who gives them a reason to believe.


Freo kicks the first of the final quarter to be within a goal but never gets closer. Pavlich and Brett Peake are among those who flub it in front of goal. By now Tarrant has lost it. Conceding a free off the ball late in the term seals a perfectly awful evening for him, and it’s the Pies by less than two straight kicks. Cue theme song.


Waiting for the tram back to the city, some young Freo fans wander past. “That was 350 bucks wasted,” one mumbles. Oh come on, fella, look on the bright side. At least you’re in Melbourne.


Footnote: Baby Arlo was born two weeks later, another Pies supporter.


Collingwood  3.5 7.7 12.12 15.13 (103)

Fremantle  5.3 8.6 10.11 13.16 (94)



Collingwood: Rocca 5, Davis 4, Swan 2, Cloke, Didak, Johnson, Maxwell.
Fremantle: Pavlich 4, Crowley, Mundy 2, Bell, J. Carr, Headland, McManus, Sandilands.



Collingwood: Swan, Davis, Lockyer, Rocca, Pendlebury.

Fremantle: Pavlich, Sandilands.



M. Carr (Fremantle) 150 games.



McBurney, James, Avon.



Davis (Coll.) 3, Swan (Coll.) 2, Rocca (Coll.) 1.



Swan (Coll.) 3, Hasleby (F) 2, Rocca* (Coll.) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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