The Footy Almanac 2007 Week 1 Finals – Collingwood v Sydney: Omens

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

7.30pm, Saturday, September 8

Melbourne Cricket Ground



NERVOUS… I SPENT A LONG WEEK DRINKING and looking for omens and drinking some more. And I didn’t shave and I avoided cracks in the footpath and I drank to find some inner calm and I searched every nook and cranny. I needed something but the omens were impossible to find and my personal hygiene sunk to new lows. By Saturday, my wife had stopped talking to me, my breath was foul and I hadn’t sighted a mirror in days. But everything started to fall in place.


I had a kick of the footy on the street with the Lebanese kids across the road and when I threaded one between the telephone pole and the lamp-post (from a tight angle), I threw my arms in the air. It was a good way to start the day and I kidded myself there was still a little magic left in my 40-year-old left foot. And then… ever so quietly… I whispered so no one could hear: “There was still a little magic left in the Swans, too”.


When I walked to the shop, I didn’t make eye contact with the people, I kept my head pointed to the ground and there, on the path, I saw two shining $2 coins.


I couldn’t believe it. One sausage roll and four free bucks in my pocket and it wasn’t even 11. These were good signs, indeed.


At the supermarket my boy wanted a ride in the ABC bus, his standard request along with chocolate frogs. But when I put the money in, nothing happened. Could this be a bad omen? I couldn’t let it happen. I wouldn’t. I banged the money slot furiously and, to my surprise, 50 cents rolled out. I banged it again and another 50 fell. Whack. Another dollar, and another, and then my two, and then Archie tapped it and out plopped 10 cents. I had $7.10 in my pocket, one sausage and it wasn’t even 11.30. Surely, Collingwood were in serious trouble.


The Swans had been made false favourites by the bookmakers on the strength of their performance from last week (without Barry Hall). It was wrong. But the words of my Collingwood mates were ringing in my ears. They were scared. Beating us three times in a year was a tough task. They were talking. I was listening. I started to believe.


Hall was back. I hoped he wouldn’t get in the way. Strangely, Amon Buchanan was not selected to replace the injured Luke Ablett and Tadhg Kennelly didn’t get up. But there was hope. There was a lot of hope. These Collingwood boys were just boys. We were seasoned. It was time to play. It was time to rub their noses in the spring dirt.


It’s true what they say about finals crowds. They have a pre-game buzz: tension, energy, excitement and an overriding feeling that it has all come down to this. The woman next to me was a Swan. The people in front were Collingwood, the people behind were Collingwood. In fact, they were all bloody Collingwood.


Chaotic noise accompanied the start of the game. A 50-metre penalty against Scott Burns gave Nick Malceski the first goal, got the crowd angry and kickstarted a Collingwood onslaught. Josh Fraser set the tone for the Pies early, diving at a dashing Leo Barry, getting a piece of him, forcing the turnover, and Travis Cloke slotted the goal. This was the first of six unanswered majors. We were fumbling, wayward, awkward and Collingwood’s young stars were dazzling. Didak, Pendlebury, Rusling and Cloke were all on the scoreboard. It was looking grim.


Second quarter: Brett Kirk got us going. He’s a dead-set battler but plays his guts out every week and he leads and inspires and we love him. We closed the gap a tad, Collingwood answered with another couple, and then we came. As the quarter closed, Rocca had one hand on his knee, and one hand in the air. He looked gone for the night. Jude Bolton gave us a fourth consecutive goal and we were 10 points adrift at the main break.


I was hoarse. I was smiling. The woman next to me was grinning too. I patted her on the shoulder. We were alive. The Collingwood had hushed. I took a breather.


At the start of the third Mick O’Loughlin slashed the margin to five points but then I saw something I hadn’t expected to see. Rocca. Back from the dead. Not only that, he took a mark and popped one in from outside fifty and then, suddenly, he was everywhere. Rocca was setting them up and knocking them down. Hall was missing them and turning it over.


In the blink of the eye, the game had gone. Collingwood slammed on five straight and looked supreme. It was 28 points at the final change. Not insurmountable in the good old days,

but the feeling wasn’t there this night. Those omens, that I had worked so hard to find, weren’t working. We weren’t working. Hall wasn’t working. In fact, little had worked for us all year.


The Collingwood were pumped and when Buckley booted his first, our fairytale was well and truly sealed. Malceski’s running goal through the middle of the ground was a rare highlight in the last and a reminder that the future was not completely bleak. But like Hall, this group was cooked.


Some teams have two years, great teams have three, freak teams have four. Brisbane was a freak team. We had been very good for two years and were unlucky not to have two cups. It had been a hell of a ride.


The blokes behind me said: “Bad luck, mate, you’ll be back next year.”


I told them I didn’t think so and we chatted about Pendlebury, Thomas, Rusling, Heath Shaw, Goldsack and Cloke. This was closure, Aussie football style, in the outer, upstairs at the ’G, one night in the spring with strangers who love football.


We knew what we’d seen.



Collingwood  6.5  8.9  13.12   18.17 (125)

Sydney  1.4  7.5  9.8  13.9 (87)



Collingwood: Rocca 6, Cloke, Rusling 3, Didak, Pendlebury, Davis, Swan, Buckley, Medhurst.

Sydney: O’Loughlin 4, Davis, Malceski 2, Kirk, Fosdike, Schneider, J. Bolton, Hall.



Collingwood: Rocca, Wakelin, Cloke, H. Shaw, Pendlebury, Richards, Rusling.

Sydney: Goodes, Malceski, Kirk, O’Loughlin, J. Bolton.



Bolton (Sydney) 150 games.



McBurney, Stevic, McInerney.



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






For more round by round and finals reports of the 2007 season click HERE


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



2007 Footy Almanac

Leave a Comment