Unfamiliar territory

There’s something strange in the footy air at the moment, and it’s not wet woollen jumpers left for too long in the sports bag.

Like all Magpie fans I’m often accused of being one-eyed. Fair enough … I am. For the most part. I have to admit that over the years I’ve had a grudging admiration for Great Teams – teams oozing first class skills – from time to time.

In the ‘80s it was an almighty Hawthorn team that earned Great Team status. Dunstall, Platten, Tuck and the rest. So many of them, such great talent. A team so dominant that it was hard for even the most rusted-on fan of any other club not to admire them, even if we kept these feelings to ourselves most of the time.

In the mid-‘90s, especially 1995, the Great Team was the almost unbeatable Blues team of Kernahan, Silvagni, Williams, Kouta and company. Then the Baby Bombers after they grew up – they really should have won more than just that 2000 flag.

In the last decade we’ve had two powerhouse teams earn Great Team bragging rights: first Brisbane and then the Cats.

I admired the way that Lions team grew as a unit from inept to invincible. (I can still remember a turning point, when a young Justin Leppitch sold a dummy to a Collingwood player on his mark, went past and slotted a long goal.) Needless to say this admiration tailed off rapidly by about the tenth minute of the 2003 grand final.

Which brings me to now, and that strange something in the air.

Never, ever, in my 35-odd years of following football has a Collingwood team come close to earning the Great Team moniker. We’ve had some good teams and great players. Lots of close calls too. But successful Collingwood teams as a whole have always been about guts and determination and fight and never-say-die. Never about silky skills. Never about wall-to-wall talent.

Not any more. Suddenly we have NON ‘Pies supporters admitting admiration for this Collingwood team. Commentators and punters alike saying they enjoy watching them, even go out of their way to watch them. Headlines like “All the fun of the flair” and “Pies not only skilled but the best drilled” (from The Age last Monday). In short, a Collingwood team that is almost a Great Team.

It’s a very odd feeling, something only supporters of previous Great Teams would understand I think. But its a good feeling, and I’m going to soak it up for as long as it lasts. As I keep telling my daughters: this may never happen again.


  1. Danielle says

    I know exactly how you feel, i know i need to ‘soak up’ the feeling that our current team is reflecting.
    Feels so good!
    On my wall i have the front pager of Roger Federer kissing the trophy of his 16th grand slam win- right under it is a photo of Nathan Brown kissing the premiership cup in exactly the same embrace!
    Says something about champions of game, doesn’t it! ;)

    go pies!

  2. Andrew Fithall says


    I like how you have been able to celebrate what may become a great team without naming one player. That is a great team. On the other hand, as noted on AFL360 (Foxtel) last night, three Collingwood players (Swan, Pendlebury and Thomas) have been separately identified this year by various commentators as being possibly the best player in the competition at the moment. A premiership team described as being made up of tradesmen is suddenly flush with superstars.

    I too am enjoying this period. However, as with the Essendon team of either side of Y2K, unless that greatness is manifest in multiple premierships, it isn’t really a great team


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