The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 20 – Collingwood v Melbourne: Johnson nearly ruins it all

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 Melbourne

7.40pm, Friday, August 17

Melbourne Cricket Ground



I’VE BEEN HAVING A RUNNING BLUE with my Eddie-tormented mates about Collingwood’s 2007 draw. They reckon we don’t travel enough and have too many games at the MCG, giving us an unfair advantage. They are not moved by my argument that the MCG is not really a home ground when you’re up against another Melbourne-based side.


But I agree with them on one point, albeit for different reasons. We do play too many games at the ’G. I long for the variety of yore. Peter Daicos snagging six in a quarter at Arden Street in a losing cause. Denis Banks clinging on for dear life to a horizontal hanger at a soggy Western Oval. Ronny McKeown slotting eight big ones on an unusually sunny Waverley afternoon. And any number of Darren Millane feats-of-strength at a packed Victoria Park. My Collingwood-conscripted children will never get to travel to these exotic locations, and I count myself lucky that I was able to watch live footy before they wrapped it in plastic.


On this night, I clocked my card at the ’G for the seventh week in a row. The Demons were playing away, poor dears, but had the motivation of skipper David Neitz’s 300th to counter the unfamiliar surrounds. The genial giant called correctly and pointed towards Punt Road.


It turned out to be a game of two bits. There was the bit before Magpie midfielder Ben Johnson clattered into Demon defender Daniel Bell’s head early in the third quarter. And the bit after.


The first bit was relatively pain-free for home fans. Collingwood had three goals on the board before the Dees realised they were supposed to be doing it for Neita. Leon Davis and Scott Burns camped underneath some Chris Bryan aerial work to keep an undersized Melbourne backline occupied. A long low bending goal from Lynden Dunn cleared a few cobwebs, but it was against the flow.


Paul Medhurst, busy and sure-handed inside the fifty, added a couple and then Davis finished off a fine quarter with some more 2007 cameo brilliance. A spectacular point from close range was followed by a gem of a goal from in front of the MCC Members’. Davis combined balance, poise and an innate ability to weight long-range bananas to bring most of the Friday-night patrons to their feet.


A late Byron Pickett goal gave the smattering of travelling fans something to cheer about, but the three-goal quarter-time margin leaked out to 35 points at the main break as the Demons plumbed some new depths. Ben Holland’s shoulder did not take kindly to an Anthony Rocca roll, and his night ended early. Russell Robertson, well held by Harry O’Brien, jarred a knee, but limped on. Only Nathan Jones appeared to have his heart in the contest, burrowing into packs at every opportunity and often emerging with the object of the exercise.


It’s hard to know what went through Johnson’s head when he stepped into the path of a stooping Bell one minute into the second half, but we had a pretty clear view of what went through Bell’s. Five minutes passed as the dazed Demon was loaded onto the football hearse and driven down into the cold concrete bowels of the MCG.


Things had threatened to go all Gangs-of–New-York while Bell lay on the turf. The Collingwood huddle, on instructions from the bench, embarked on a measured jog across the half-forward line to keep loose. The Demons followed suit across their side of the square, and the two groups faced off from their new corners. All it needed was for Melbourne ringleader Nathan Carroll to hurl a bottle, and we would have had a street war on our hands.


As it transpired, we had to settle for a few minutes of predictable sniping and equally predictable over-umpiring, before the game settled down into its second phase. The Melbourne comeback was initially surreptitious, four well-spaced goals including two to Neitz bringing the margin back to within three kicks as the long quarter dragged on. Jones had been joined at the barricades by Travis Johnstone and James McDonald, and the Pies were getting the jitters. Rhyce Shaw made a mess of a defensive spoil, leaving Pickett to waltz in for his second just before the bell. The Pies led by two goals at the last change, but the momentum was with the team of the Red and the Blue.


With a hamstrung Aaron Davey joining Holland and Bell on the sidelines, however, the Dees were badly short of running power. The last quarter was not pretty, as the Pies sought to take advantage of their fresher legs and shut down Melbourne’s scoring opportunities. Dale Thomas showed the way, stopping McLean in his tracks twice in the first few minutes and winning free kicks. “Juice” Newton kicked a long goal eight minutes in to reduce the deficit to seven points, but it was the Dees’ last major.


The final word went to Medhurst, who often appears to be listening to his own inner soundtrack. An audacious decision to play on from a mark outside fifty brought him just close enough to land what turned out to be the last goal of the match.


The Woods finished better to win by 11 points and keep the cakewalk dream alive. They almost blew a fine first half of footy, but won the day thanks in part to having more fit gang members left in the fight. And thanks, of course, to their sizeable home ground advantage.



Collingwood  6.4 9.8 10.12 11.13 (81)

Melbourne  3.5 3.9 8.12 9.16 (70)



Collingwood: Medhurst 3, Bryan, Burns, Cloke, Davis, Johnson, Didak, Rusling, Pendlebury.

Melbourne: Neitz 3, Pickett 2; Dunn, Sylvia, McLean, Newton.



Collingwood: Medhurst, Burns, O’Brien, Thomas, Davis, Swan.

Melbourne: Jones, Johnstone, Neitz, Brown, McDonald.



Neitz (Melbourne) 300 games, Cloke (Collingwood) 50 games, Jamar (Melbourne) 50 games.



Donlon, McLaren, Chamberlain.



Jones (M) 3, Medhurst (Coll.) 2, Burns (Coll.) 1.



McDonald (M) 3, Swan (Coll.) 2, Brown (M) 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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