The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 21 – Collingwood v Sydney: Nathan returns on a black and white night

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 Sydney

7.10pm, Saturday, August 25

Melbourne Cricket Ground



SUNDAY. I SIT ON THE STEPS OF THE Victorian State Library with a plastic tub full of duck and rice, wondering why, wondering how, wondering where it all went so wrong. The sun is shining, the duck is good, my boy plays under the photographs of the famous people, oblivious to my torment and the pounding inside my head. I can’t even recall drinking that much.


I remember walking back from the MCG. The night was still and warm and strangely illuminated as I paced through East Melbourne, taking a well-trodden track to the Napier Hotel. I remember the Collingwood people walking into the pub… smiling, happy, unusually meritorious in a smug way that made me want to do vile things like piddle on their shoes and spit in their drinks.


“Did you enjoy the Adam Goodes show?” one of them asked.


Then Will appeared. His fantasy football team is called Daicos Daicos Buckley and he bought a bottle of Pyrenees sparkling and handed me a glass. I remember staring at the bubbles and thinking that drinking it would be like dancing on my lover’s grave – with another woman in a short skirt and long, high boots.


I wanted to take the gloss off their win. I wanted to tell them that it was our second week on the road, whereas the only travelling they do is walk across Swan Street and over the bridge. I wanted to tell them a lot of things. I kept silent. It was like a tiny spa in that glass and I wanted to crawl in and swim away. More Collingwood people walked in. The conversation was a din. I heard someone say: “Some nice little cameos from Nathan.”


Sweat started to force its way out of my forehead. The flashbacks began. Buckley, playing his first game in 21 weeks, got his first kick in the first minute: one of his famous flat passes that found Dale Thomas who kicked the first goal of the game. The Collingwood went berserk. In fact, they went berserk the entire night when Buckley went near it.


“You’re a champ’yean, Naythan!” the bloke behind me yelled monotonously. Over and over. And over.


I was going to tell him that our bloke had two Brownlows and a cup whereas his bloke had one and none. But I kept silent.


Collingwood’s zone on us (for the second time this year) was exceptional but towards the end of the first quarter we started to find a way through and kicked some. Collingwood missed some and, surprisingly, we had drawn level. It was nine scoring shots to four, we were lucky, but we were alive. And at the start of the second, we pulled away.


I had hooked up with one of my Swans mates and I remember thinking this could be the game, this could be the moment, this could be the beginning of the march that would take us deep into the spring. I kept silent. We were 10 points up when Amon Buchanan was streaming out of defence, beginning another surge, only to be tackled.


Sean Rusling would end up with the goal and Collingwood came again.


My mate was telling me how he wasn’t sure if he should be at the game. He said he had had a feeling that if he stayed away we would win and we were certain to lose if he went.


In the third term, things got ugly. Rocca was reported for biffing Goodes, Buchanan was reported for getting very high in the air and taking out Martin Clarke, O’Loughlin went off the field coughing blood, and again we just couldn’t find a path to goal. Needless to say, Barry Hall’s influence on the game was minimal, despite kicking a few. The umpires’ influence on the game was too much. My mate was screaming, “29-12”, highlighting the wayward free-kick count in Collingwood’s favour. The bloke behind me was yelling, “Five to one,” which was the 50-metre penalty count (in our favour). I stayed silent.


We had been outplayed. Everitt and Jolly were supposed to dominate in the absence of Josh Fraser. They didn’t. Collingwood’s young kids were outstanding. Buckley’s 15 possessions were all meticulous and crisp. Goodes ran up and down the field endlessly, playing a lone-hand in a best-on performance.


In the last, Schneider kicked the opener, but they kicked one, then we kicked another and they kicked another and another. Then Collingwood cranked the volume right up. The bloke behind me kept yelling: “Go Poies”.


My mate left. I was thinking he should never have come. I stayed silent.


I remember drinking the champagne. I remember thinking this was not a dance, it was just a drink, and this was not a woman in a short skirt, it was just MOC and Will and Jake… unfortunately.


And here I am. I suck the duck from the bone. I stare at the photographs of the famous people. The sun shines, my boy plays and for a brief moment I stop thinking about football and wonder, “Who are those guys up there?”


Obviously, there are no footballers in the exhibition.



Collingwood  3.6 9.8 12.10 15.11 (101)

Sydney  4.0 7.4 8.6 11.10 (76)



Collingwood: Rusling 4, Rocca 3, Didak, Pendlebury, Burns, Medhurst, Clement, Thomas, Swan, Bryan.

Sydney: Hall 4, Davis 2, Schneider, O’Keefe, Jolly, O’Loughlin, Kirk.



Collingwood: Swan, Clement, Rusling, Goldsack, Pendlebury, Wakelin.

Sydney: Goodes, C. Bolton, O’Keefe, Malceski, J. Bolton, Kirk.



Crouch (Sydney) 200 games.



Vozzo, McLaren, Ellis.



Goodes (S) 3, Swan (Coll.) 2, Rusling (Coll.) 1.



Goodes* (S) 3, Swan (Coll.) 2, Pendlebury (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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