The Yorkshiremen

Collingwood fans in Queensland often end up like Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen; standing around with tans and expensive shoes talking about how tough Reservoir was in the seventies.

The collection of aging tradies and engineers in black and white standing in front of us at the Gabba on Saturday were the classic bunch. They were keen to be wild, like true woodsmen; to be rough and all put upon, sweary and side-by-side and keep every cup to prove how many you’ve drunk. Regaling tales of terraces past that were knee deep in mud and beer and the time they punched that bloke at the Western Oval, while wearing deck shoes , comb-overs and German leather jackets.

It was warm at the Gabba on the concrete strip that passes for standing room- almost hot. The woods kicked a goal in the first minute, piled on five more and my notes called the sealer at 27 minutes in the first. But was actually a better game than that. Rockliff and Redden are two really good players, Daniel Rich did some good things and was a lot tougher than in the last few games I’ve seen.

As my co-watcher and neighbour correctly pointed out, Rich is one of the only A-Listers Brisbane has these days. His kicking, as has long been noted, can be superb, but he risked being a Josh Drummond, all boot and no toe.

Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Brisbane Lions, they never looked likely to challenge. Through the second and third quarters they gave a good show, field contests were rugged and their defence held as fast as they could.

Hawksley might be something, Kernezis might become dangerous one day. Jonathan Brown missed a sitter from dead in front in the second and the Lions piled up six behinds in a row. When you’re 42 points down, that is not what you can afford.

The ‘woodsmen’ in standing room were clearly hoping for something more. One guy thought launching a few four letter words would get things stirred up, but Brisbane cops are a different breed and they were having none of it. As his ciggie wilted on his ear four cops confronted him while he spluttered “but we’re at the footy!!” while they gave him what for.

He looked like a figure from a Russell Drysdale painting on Meth. All tatts and honesty and those slightly downs syndrome eyes.

Heath Shaw was everywhere, took a great hanger in the last. He and Didak look like the kind of guys who will struggle when they hang up the boots. It was one of those games where conversations become story making and we waxed tales of Heath Shaw’s afterlife. Those bills and empty afternoons, cruising Eltham in a decaying HSV and blowing years worth of cash on donkeys they thought were thoroughbreds. Maybe Eddie will keep an eye on him.

Dane Swan seemed to spend inordinate amounts of the game with no opponent. How does that happen? I’m also pretty sure Harry O’Brien didn’t touch another footballer for the whole night, I mean literally. There was a photo of him on one of the websites almost tackling Banfield, but I’m sure it was from the archives.

All the while Sidebottom, Pendlebury and Beams oozed class and composure, just doing what needed to be done and dragging Blackie in their wake.

Poor young Nathan Brown did his knee again, in the only black moment of Collingwood’s white night.

But then in my day we’d have just rubbed some whale fat on it, knocked back a scotch and made the next ball-up, but we were so much poorer back then.

BRISBANE LIONS 2.1 3.7 7.9 8.10 (58)

COLLINGWOOD 6.4 9.7 12.12 17.14 (116)

Best: 3 Swan (Coll), 2 Sidebottom (Coll), 1 O’Brien (Coll)

About Hamish Townsend

Hamish Townsend was born and raised in Geelong, supports the Cats and lives in Brisbane.

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