Published as ‘Weekus horribilis’ in the 2012 Football Almanac (Malarkey Publications)
Round 4 at Etihad Stadium
My oh my had the haters been waiting for this!
If a 10 goal drubbing to hastily anointed flag faves Carlton wasn’t enough, the week leading into this game was consumed by the latest and greatest McGuire v Malthouse argy-bargy yet. The hyped up hullabaloo scythed through old growth forests and caused servers to crash under the media maelstrom. Frenzied journos demanded Mick move on, Ed set his own used by date, Leon spill the beans, Harry be axed, and then there was Wayne Carey’s ‘true fact’ assertions of player disenchantment. Finally, a report that Magpie supporters are the biggest liars really took the chocolates!
By midweek a statesman-like Buckley diffused the Ed-Mick bomb, only to be dealt further exasperating injuries to Dale Thomas and Heath Shaw. Whilst Jeff Kennett derided AFL plans to install prayer rooms at the MCG, I reckoned a hyperbaric one at the Westpac Centre had merit. Given the wounded Woodsmen would struggle beating Port Melbourne, the $7.75 offered on an improving Port Adelaide was tough to ignore, even for those (like me) who regard gambling a malevolent pox on football.
Come game day, barely a zephyr of wind disturbed a crisp autumn morning, eventually deferring to a sparkling Saturday afternoon. A minor complaint was stubborn fog which made for hazy viewing from my ground level standing position. Big Daniel Stewart clunked one early for Port before Magpie whipping boy Ben Sinclair’s surprising snap gave supporters pause for thought (until several subsequent snafu’s reaffirmed his unenviable standing). From the get-go Sidebottom, Beams and Wellingham stepped up to provide Swan and Pendlebury the support they previously lacked. Collingwood’s more familiar intensity was heartening, and the goals flowed. Given my pre-match apprehension, I’d take the five goal quarter time lead every time.
The ‘Pies opened up a 38 point buffer early in the second term however Pearce, Cornes and Boak started influencing the contest, ex-Magpie McCarthy also prolific, if not effective. Bucks may have thought he found the keys to Mick’s Lexus but now he was steering a Leyland P76 that could hardly back out of the driveway, let alone find a route to Cloke and Dawes. By half time the margin should have been less than 19 points. Luckily Port accumulated more posters than a One Direction fan’s bedroom.
Following bewildering half time ‘entertainment’ headlined by adult ‘little league’, Beams’ clearing kick from the bounce found Cloke. The game lifted somewhat and goals were traded. Collingwood continued to dodge more bullets than Rambo – to that end Zen worrier Harry O’Brien owed Matt Primus a thankyou tweet for generously neglecting to assign him an opponent. Ben Johnson, a welcome return, made one final contribution before donning the red vest when he grabbed a hesitant Fasolo by the ear and requested he use his god-given goal kicking ability. Late bonus goals to Wellingham and Seedsman restored a reassuring 33 point break.
Frustratingly, the Magpies chose to four wheel drive to the finish. Port threatened to outrun a side whose play became as ham fisted and tedious as the deli service at Preston Market. O’Brien, Maxwell and Keeffe did well to hold strong and prevent the margin creeping within three straight kicks. Finally the game was iced when a flock of Magpies conducted a raffle around goal, the winner being number 32. With just 31 seconds remaining, poor Robbie Gray’s knee hyper extended so severely it nearly had me bring up the day’s takings. Gray’s cruel luck even elicited respectful clapping from the black and white army as he exited on a stretcher cart seemingly driven by a circus clown!
After a weekus horribilis, 30,000 Collingwood fans departed just grateful for the four points. Oh, and for the Navy Blues simultaneously folding like a deck of cards on the other side of town. For a few days at least, Earth was back on its correct axis, and the dramas of the week jettisoned to the outer reaches of cyberspace.Embed from Getty Images
COLLINGWOOD 7.5 8.8 13.11 14.13.97
PORT ADELAIDE 2.2 5.7 8.8 10.13.73
Collingwood: Cloke 4, Sidebottom 2, Wellingham 2, Sinclair, Dawes, Beams, Fasolo, Seedsman, Paine
Port Adelaide: Schulz 2, Gray 2, D. Stewart, Butcher, Ebert, P. Stewart, Westhoff, Pfeiffer
Collingwood: O’Brien, Pendlebury, Swan, Cloke, Keeffe, Sidebottom
Port Adelaide: Boak, Pearce, Hartlett, Gray, Cassisi, Cornes
UMPIRES: McBurney, Jennings, Ritchie