The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 17 – Collingwood v Brisbane: Wakelin feels all Black after a horror loss

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Collingwood versus Brisbane Lions

7.15pm, Saturday, July 28

Melbourne Cricket Ground



CALL ME OLD-FASHIONED. But I love a Collingwood thrashing. And I also quite like public transport. I read recently that Collingwood full-back Shane Wakelin catches a train to AFL matches even when he is playing. That’s Wakelin’s contribution to a cleaner and healthier environment for the future. As a sign of our own moral decline, Wakelin’s choice has been lauded as some sort of revolutionary spiritual breakthrough for a young man of means to reject the comfort of car travel.


I didn’t spot Wakelin on my train on Saturday night – a late July evening with no breeze, cool and still and almost balmy by Melbourne winter standards. My train crowd simply overflowed with kids smothered in black and white beanies, scarves and flags. But there was not much humour from these Collingwood fans as even they focused on the night ahead. Fathers sat with chiselled Nathan Buckley-type faces – pale with scrunched-up eyes staring straight ahead. The mood only lightened up when a mobile phone rang with the Collingwood club song. It was amazing – the carriage erupted as one in full voice and suddenly the Magpie Army was replenished and on its way to the ’G to demolish an annoying, soul-destroying foe of recent times, the Brisbane Lions. Wakelin would have been bullet-proof had he been on that train.


It was Anthony Rocca’s 200th game for the Magpies, so the MCG speakers belted out a special pre-match tribute for the crowd with Black Betty, a pulsating guitar-driven head-bang. Rocca grabbed the ball within the opening 15 seconds of the match, the crowd rose, he ducked and kicked around the body. The Pie troopers roared and the ’G ripped itself open. Rocca missed. And that was basically the last threatening probe that Collingwood made all night. One miss and they were gone.


Call me old-fashioned. But the game can still be embarrassingly simple when one side gets superior clearances from the centre bounces and a big-marking forward line is working well. On this night everything clicked perfectly for Brisbane. Simon Black and Jed Adcock flicked the ball from the centre with incredible skill and speed, delivering high-quality passes to the forward line. It was a completely overpowering wave of Brisbane players in every situation as they moved the ball at a frenetic pace.


Collingwood’s defence looked in trouble from the start. Early in the game, Jonathan Brown hovered close to goal with ruckman Jamie Charman in the forward pocket and the exciting but inconsistent Jared Brennan at full-forward. Brisbane’s drive from the centre was extraordinary. Black and Adcock had the support of Nigel Lappin, “mini Mal” Jason Roe and Michael Rischitelli, who simply pounded the ball into the Brisbane forward fifty.


Brown was causing trouble as the main big forward but it was Brennan getting the goals. The flamboyant forward took one-handers, showed off?for the crowd and then added more colour to his game with a theatrical throw of the glove as he lined up for goal (à la Quinten Lynch). No medals for originality but it had the Lions crowd screaming. In the last 10 minutes of the first quarter Brisbane banged through another four goals to provide a lead of almost seven by the first break.


The story for the night really finished there, for I have rarely seen such a capitulation as Collingwood produced for the rest of the game. My focus turned to the brilliant performance of Simon Black. I don’t think I had fully realised how masterly Black is with his control of the ball and his pinpoint delivery. Like any well-tuned centreman, Black trundles up and down through the middle corridor, his bow-legged gait giving off an apparent casual air as he moves about the ground. But like two of the greats of the pivot position – Ian Stewart and Greg Williams – Black has that incredible capacity to predict where the action will move, the spring to move from a jogging position with one devastating shoulder dip, deceptive acceleration into a full sprint, a one-grab collection, evasion and automatic reflex delivery.


Black’s teammates knew where he was heading and were in good positions to exploit his brilliance. For the last three quarters, I watched the Collingwood midfielders or defenders assigned to cover Black, whoever they may have been. To my amazement, Collingwood did not appear to mark Black directly. If they did, then the lack of attachment should be the subject of some serious discussions. By the last quarter I concluded that Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse was resigned to defeat when he assigned the Irish recruit Martin Clarke to tag Black, purely for the experience. It was indeed a thrashing. In the end, a full and complete 93-point thrashing.


It is common to write off such bad results as an aberration, a bad day at the office. The train never left the station. But call me old-fashioned. If Collingwood does treat the game this way, it will be a serious mistake. This match may well be the seismic shock required for a club five weeks out from the finals. But if there is no formal inquiry into the free space given to Black and his fast-moving midfield during this game, and it happens again to the Magpies during the final series, then Wakelin should forget about the train. He and all of his teammates should just start walking.



Brisbane Lions  7.6 11.13 16.15 22.17 (149)

Collingwood  1.3 3.7 5.12 7.14 (56)



Brisbane: Brennan 7, Adcock 4, Brown, Hooper 3, Charman 2, Black, Roe, Rischitelli.

Collingwood: Maxwell 4, Rocca, Cloke, H. Shaw.



Brisbane: Black, Adcock, Brennan, Brown, Roe, Hooper, Rischitelli, Stiller.

Collingwood: Maxwell.



Vozzo, Rosebury, Grun.



Black (B) 3, Adcock (B) 2, Brennan (B) 1.



Brennan (B) 3, Adcock (B) 2, Brown (B) 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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