The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 13 – Collingwood v Hawthorn: Dirty Didak and mercurial Mitchell

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 Hawthorn

5.10pm, Sunday, July 1

Telstra Dome, Melbourne



THE STORY OF THIS GAME should be about two star-crossed rivals thrilling 50,000 fans down on the docks. It should be about how quickly teams are regenerating on the back of sophisticated and inventive recruitment. Or about how the Victorian worms are turning.


And it will probably be all of these things once the Alan Didak dust has settled. But, for now, there is no sign of that. Didak’s late-night exploits three weeks before this game with Hells Angel and murder suspect Christopher Hudson have taken up residence on the front and back pages of the nation’s dailies.


These are tough times for football analysts. They are being called on to grapple with loose morals as well as hard-ball gets. That many of them are eminently unqualified for the task has been no barrier to their stern-faced participation. The high horse is chafing from all the sanctimonious rides.


But I digress. Didak played in this match, and so did 43 others. They included two tall 20-year-old Hawks born a week apart on opposite sides of the continent, a 19-year-old Magpie born on the other side of the world, and the youngest player in the competition, who was making his debut.


The Hawthorn recruitment team went to the 2004 national draft with a plan. It must have taken some fortitude to ignore the hype surrounding Ryan Griffen and Richard Tambling and opt instead for Leongatha’s Jarryd Roughead at No.2. The choice of Franklin at No.5 was risky for a different reason; the athletic West Australian was considered to be as flaky as he was lanky.


It’s still too early to conclude on that draft, but it’s a fair bet that no one at Hawthorn would swap Roughead or Franklin. No midfielders drafted after Franklin have emerged as budding superstars, and big blokes are supposed to take longer to develop anyway. On this Sunday night, neither of the twin towers set the world on fire. But they both took contested marks and kicked big goals when it mattered.


From the first bounce, new Collingwood spearhead Ben Reid, the competition’s youngest player, looked completely at home. For a while, from our distant vantage point in front of the TAB at the southern end, we mistook the 18-year-old for Travis Cloke when he led and marked confidently in the opening minutes. The resemblance was complete when his left-foot shot went astray. Reid soon had his first goal, however, and was making an admirable fist of replacing the suspended Anthony Rocca.


And then there was the man from County Down. Within 18 months of picking up his first Sherrin, Martin Clarke was asked to follow Brownlow Medallist Shane Crawford and see if he could learn a trick or two. Midway through the third quarter, Clarke levelled the scores with his third goal. Crawford had been having a good game, but he was eventually required to tighten up on an opponent who had started the afternoon on work experience. None of the impressive list of Irishmen who have made a fist of our game could have looked as assured in their first two games as Clarke has.


Two other relative veterans deserve a mention. By current standards, Sam Mitchell did a long apprenticeship in the VFL before becoming one of the AFL’s premier midfielders. Overlooked in the 2000 draft, he spent the 2001 season at Box Hill before being picked up by Hawthorn at No.36 in that year’s national draft year. In 2002, Mitchell played nine AFL and 11 VFL games – the latter enough to win him the J.J. Liston Trophy by an astonishing 12 votes.


Mitchell runs with his chest pushed forward, proud but not arrogant. He would have been stung by the fact that Collingwood had dominated the clearances in the first half. The Pies had relied on their toughness around the ball to stay within a kick of the free-running Hawks. Mitchell took it upon himself to reverse this trend. His second half was crucial to his side’s eventual eight-point win.


Selected 22 places behind Mitchell at the 2001 draft, at No.58, was an ugly duckling from the Calder Cannons, Dane Swan. Swan’s career started slowly, marred by a broken hand and a couple of late-night indiscretions that can spell the end of a career for those less talented than, say, Didak. But like Mitchell, Swan knows how to play footy. He can get the footy and he can use the footy.


The Hawks appeared to have skipped to a winning break in the last quarter after goals to Franklin and Crawford. Swan had been good for three quarters, but he steeled himself for one last effort. He was instrumental – with Leon Davis and Dale Thomas – in a three-goal burst that put Collingwood improbably in front within sight of the line.


It’s a credit to an undermanned Collingwood that they rallied when seemingly beaten. It’s equally a credit to Hawthorn that they regained composure and the lead with goals to Michael Osborne and Roughead in the frenetic last five minutes. The margin had rarely strayed beyond two goals and the beautiful game’s standing had climbed another notch. The Baby Hawks had prevailed against the Juvenile Delinquents, but neither lost any fans.


As for Didak, the challenges lie ahead. He cannot have failed to notice the massive Magpie roars that greeted both his goals, but his celebrations were unusually subdued. Might have had something on his mind.



Collingwood  3.5 6.9 9.12 12.15 (87)

Hawthorn  4.2 7.4 11.5 15.5 (95)



Hawthorn: Franklin 4, Roughead 3, Boyle, Osborne, Crawford 2, Ladson, Young.

Collingwood: Clarke 3, Didak, Medhurst, Thomas 2, Davis, Reid, Cloke.



Hawthorn: Mitchell, Roughead, Brown, Young, Crawford, Bateman.

Collingwood: Swan, H. Shaw, Clarke, O’Bree, Lockyer, Davis.



Reid (Collingwood).



Jeffery, McInerney, Rosebury.



Mitchell (H) 3, Swan (Coll.) 2, Roughead (H) 1.



Swan (Coll.) 3, Mitchell (H) 2, Crawford (H) 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

Leave a Comment