Collingwood v Carlton: Faith in humanity restored

As published by The Footy Almanac, 8 April 2013 

Poor Mick.

In the remains of the day I used to spot the silver fox marching across from Westpac Centre through Melbourne Park, over the footbridge and past the MCG to his low rent Jolimont digs. Now at Carlton, it must be quite a journey to and from Priceless Park, or whatever it’s called these days.

As an environmentalist it must also cause Mick pain the many forests pulped dissecting his issues with Ed, and the contract he willingly signed, and later recanted after a pang of buyer’s remorse.  It’s easy to understand how his family lost faith in humanity. Fancy giving Mick a measly decade to deliver the goods at roughly $1m p/a, only to ease him into his dotage with similarly paltry superannuation package.  It’s enough to have poor Christi busking in Fed Square.

But this game wasn’t about Mick, or at least it wasn’t until Mick magnanimously took one for the team.  And nor was Mick thinking of Ed, as Mick claimed, despite mentioning his distaste for Ed’s conciliatory bread.

No, this was another chapter in the greatest rivalry in Australian sport, a 120 year struggle between good and evil far outweighing two men’s egos.

For supporters, all week senses are heightened, nerves on edge. Children best behave.   And those who barrack for neither side enjoy basking in the assuredness that one of the two most hated teams in the competition will be experiencing abject pain at the final siren.

A warm morning and gusty conditions augmented the game’s finals feel.  The dark clouds looming ominously to the west would later fulfil their dramatic promise.

Having walked virtually all the way to the station before realising I’d forgotten my cursed Myki card wasn’t a promising start, but I reconciled that retracing my steps was nothing compared to the physical toll the combatants would pay.

A short sharp session at the Prince Patrick before the game with my mate ‘Tarpey’ (nicknamed after the battling ‘Pie defender of yesteryear) settled the nerves.  We discussed his poor ailing Labradors to further ease the tension. The surviving one is 120 in canine terms – twice the age of the old dog coaching the Blues. Remarkable!

To the game, and the Blues were up and running before the early deluge had many of the 85,000 fans decamping. Walker, Garlett and Yarran made the most of their opportunities in lieu of an injured Betts and Megan’s toy boy. Was Mick’s insider knowledge going to be the key to the downfall of his former charges, whom he professed undying love and loyalty for the 2010 flag?

But a new spirit has emerged within the 2013 Magpie line-up, balanced with the kind of bullishness typified by Buckley, whose stoic countenance amid the never ending war of words has been reminiscent of an Easter Island statue. That said, at 10 points adrift when the final quarter began, there was no margin for error.

Not only was the potential disaster of yielding the first goal averted, the Pies quickly goaled, and goaled again. Swan and Pendles upped the ante.  Relentless, composed Collingwood was back, but Carlton kept coming.  They’re always coming aren’t they?

Enter wee ‘Billy’ Elliott, who defied Charles Darwin and the Blues defence to jag five goals in a career defining performance. If the Big Q Stick does nothing else at Collingwood he will forever be venerated for his Herculian efforts against the arch enemy, bravely outlasting Kruezer in the absence of a busted up Jolly.  Another unlikely hero presented in the poised form of Sam Dwyer, a 26 year old freshman who’d been passed over more times than a Snack block Turkish delight. And in the interests of balance, Sam Rowe’s debut after overcoming cancer was also a fine example of humanity on display.

The Magpies’ big game experience, combined with an injection of quality fresh blood, produced a barnstorming finish.  I floated through Yarra Park to Jolimont Station.  Not only had the planets aligned, so had the train timetable for the first time in living memory. I revelled in the Carlton-centric carriage of despondency.  My thoughts turned to Malty and his lonely trek home from the ‘G.  We wanted to like you, it didn’t have to be this way.

Poor Mick.

Collingwood 3.3       5.5       10.10               17.15.117
Carlton           3.0       7.3       12.8                 15.10.100
Goals

Collingwood: Elliot 5, Blair 2, Pendlebury 2, Sinclair 2, Clarke, Dwyer, Goldsack, Shaw, Sidebottom, Swan

Carlton: Garlett 3, Walker 3, Yarran 3, Bell, Henderson, Lucas, Murphy, Rowe, Simpson

Best

Collingwood: Elliot, Swan, Pendlebury, O’Brien, Shaw, Sidebottom

Carlton: Murphy, Judd, Garlett, Gibbs, Henderson, Jamison

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