The Footy Almanac 2007 Week 2 Finals – West Coast v Collingwood: Stressing from afar

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!




West Coast versus Collingwood

6.45pm, Friday, September 14

Subiaco Oval, Perth



IT’S HARD TO KNOW WHERE TO START on this longest of nights, so I’ll jump to the end. Shortly before midnight (over east) and with the clock ticking down to zero for the sixth time in this marathon Semi Final, Dane Swan ran into an empty square and dribbled through the last goal of the game. He initially raised one celebratory arm, but it became two when the siren signalled the Magpies’ finals campaign had at least one more week to run.


Swan had received the ball from Scott Pendlebury, who moments earlier had broken through the Eagles dam wall and maintained enough composure to kick the game-breaking goal. The crucial play was a creation of the Pies’ department of youth, Travis Cloke going low to fist the ball to Marty Clarke, who dinked a rugby foot pass into Pendlebury’s path.


The game had gone into extra time after both sides had finished four exhausting quarters locked together on 10.12 (72). Like tied golfers, they were asked to head back down 17 and come back up 18 to extract a result. Two extra periods of five minutes, with a change of ends in between. May the least buggered side win.


They only had their forebears to blame. Seventeen years ago, the Pies and the Eagles played out a Qualifying Final draw at Waverley. Thrilling: yes. But it threw the 1990s finals series out by one week. I watched in horror from the big scoreboard end as Peter Sumich’s wayward shot levelled the scores. Extra time was introduced to remove future inconvenience, and as fate would have it I was back at Waverley when the team formerly known as North Melbourne finished tied with the Hawks in the 1994 Second Qualifying Final.


Throwing in the 1977 Grand Final, I had been present at the last three tied finals (or, to be precise, the last three finals which had finished level after ordinary time). But I wasn’t at this one. I was thousands of kilometres away in my Thornbury loungeroom with family and friends, riding every bump and drinking red wine too quickly.


But permit me to keep working backwards. The last fragment of ordinary time should be incorporated into a motivational video under the title of The Mad Minute. With Sumich watching on from the coaches’ box, Andrew Embley sliced his match-winning attempt and it was 72 all. I could imagine my favourite radio commentator Graham ‘Smokey’ Dawson calling it: “One more point apiece and they’ll be level.”


Collingwood worked the ball inside their fifty, and all 36 players on the ground followed. This was one of those rare occasions when the limitations of watching on TV were cancelled out. We knew where everyone was. We could see every single one of them on the screen, hurling themselves at the pill like deranged druggies. Method remained in the madness, though, and somehow both sides avoided conceding a crucial free kick. Clean possession was impossible, and bodies piled up 25 metres from a Collingwood touchdown. A freeze-frame would have called to mind the desperation of Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa. With a yellow Sherrin in the middle. And less nudity.


With 10 seconds to go, a clearing Eagles kick found its way to James Clement, who bombed it back to the Raft. Standing aloft was Eagles full forward Quinten Lynch, who marked approximately 180 metres out. This must have been outside his range, as he declined to remove his glove. Siren!


Chaos reigned in Thornbury. My son Daniel and his mate Aife wanted to know what was supposed to happen next. “No idea,” I blurted out, as I tripped over the cat on the way out to the back verandah. I felt like all those airline passengers who have never paid attention to the safety demonstration. “In the event of a draw, place your head between your knees and count to ten.” Or something like that.


In my slightly addled state, however, I did reach a tentative conclusion that the Pies were better placed to sail back out on to the wide Subiaco sea. Ashley Hansen’s dodgy hammy had left the Eagles a man down before quarter-time, and there was the small matter of them commencing proceedings without Messrs Judd, Kerr and Cousins.


Not too many sides in recent history could suffer the loss of three players of this ilk and remain competitive in a big final, but the Eagles keep sending capable new soldiers to the front line. The curly mop of Matt Priddis is a lot more recognisable to AFL fans now than it was at the start of 2007, and his first half was another demonstration of his ball-getting ability. Priddis regularly arrives at a contest after he has gained the clearance from the previous one, and by early in the second quarter he had already racked up 17 touches.


He was also on the end of some silver service from Dean Cox, who did not have to contend with late withdrawal Josh Fraser. Cox may have dominated the centre-bounces anyway, but Collingwood felt the loss of Fraser around the ground as the big Eagle became effectively another on-baller in the early stages.


One Cox highlight was a clever boundary tap over his head to Chad Fletcher, who did not have to break stride in edging his side in front midway through the second term. Alan Didak answered immediately after Anthony Rocca crashed through centre half forward to clear a path. Rocca was well held by Darren Glass in the first half, but a goal to the big full-forward just before the main break reduced the margin to less than a kick.


West Coast’s best quarter (or is that “sixth”?) was the third, and they looked to have cleared out to a winning break when David Wirrpanda ran onto Brent Staker’s weighted pass in an empty square. The goal made the margin a relatively mountainous 22 points. Had Mark LeCras converted an excellent mark minutes later, we might not have needed our dramatic play-off.


But LeCras missed narrowly, and the Pies slipped the noose. Malthouse was on the way to a record 101 bench rotations, but it was a Worsfold interchange that shifted the tide. With a fraction over two minutes left on the clock before three- quarter time, and the margin still over three goals, Glass was half-empty and Worsfold gave him a breather.


Three crucial Magpie goals followed before the bell, as Didak struck a purple patch in the centre and Rocca cashed in on his sudden freedom. The longer the game went, the better Didak got, and he nailed a superb long goal halfway through the last term to put the Pies in front for the first time since early in the second quarter. The visitors were full of run by this stage, with Dale Thomas, Paul Medhurst and Swan looking fresher than their opponents. But it doesn’t matter who is, or isn’t, playing for the Eagles; you still need a bloody big elephant gun to kill them off. And you also need to be playing your best footy. Swan’s two-armed salute after the sixth siren will become a symbol of a famous and hard-won Collingwood victory on a long, good Friday.



West Coast          0.4           5.5           8.9           10.12     10.13     10.14 (74)

Collingwood     1.5          4.8          7.11       10.12    11.13    13.15 (93)



Collingwood: Rocca 3, Medhurst, Didak, Swan 2, Cloke, Thomas, Bryan, Pendlebury

West Coast: Wirrpanda, LeCras 2, Cox, Embley, Fletcher, Lynch, Priddis, Rosa



Collingwood: Swan, Didak, Lockyer, O’Bree, Pendlebury, Cloke, Wakelin

West Coast: Priddis, Cox, Glass, LeCras, Rosa, B. Jones



McBurney, Ryan, McInerney



Swan (Coll) 3, Priddis (WC) 2, Didak (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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