Stone Cold Crazy

As published by The Footy Almanac, 2014


Chill winds wafted down the oddly desolate Regent Station platform, permeating my bones. In my winter of discontent, I braced for what lay ahead at the People’s Ground in this inhumane Sunday night timeslot. No bringing the boy to this one.

The train pulled in to provide relief, my plan being to breeze through the turnstiles just in time for opening hostilities. Alas, my core temperature had already taken a hit. At Jolimont a barrage of Peter Mac tin rattlers descended upon grim faced shufflers re-enacting John Brack’s Collins Street 5pm. I’m ashamed to admit I gave generously in the hope good karma would be the only thing to rain down on Collingwood and me.

The Carlton cheer squad added some heat to proceedings with a banner boasting of six bonus steak knife premierships promised by Mike Fitzpatrick, their former captain cum amateur historian and AFL Chairman. Flags won in a different competition blighted by scandals and a shambolic fixture, played in a style more akin to rugby. Fancy that?

After the obligatory charity goal to Juddy, Pendlebury’s class set the Pies on track.  Mitch Robinson also showed his class, his roundhouse right flushing Taylor Adams’ jaw. It wasn’t quite Banksy on Rhys-Jones, though at least the act raised the stakes and collective adrenaline levels.

After sucking on his quarter time lemon, Malthouse effectively deployed his old one-on-one Plan B.  Fair enough – a coach’s job is to win games, even if Mick himself admitted he wouldn’t bother watching any AFL but for the pesky matters of seeking revenge on Ed, fulfilling a lucrative contract and breaking Jock’s record.

From the standing room area I observed tragic few Magpie tragics camped at ground level in the Ponsford. Consequently I snuck in to provide a visible presence for the League and their broadcaster besties.  Bwahahahaha… Take that variable pricing!

As Carlton worked back into the contest, the even sparser assembly of Blues fans #UNITED in apathy at the Punt Road end found their voice through chattering teeth.  Notwithstanding, the Woods muffed several opportunities to ‘maintain separation’ (ping Dennis Cometti) whilst the other blue team, armed with broken whistles, curiously ignored every kind of marking infringement in the rule book (volumes 1-4).

Round 3 of the ugly wrestling bout was again marked by the umpires’ unwillingness to initiate timely ball ups or pay the bleeding obvious. Daisy appeared discombobulated once again; one minute pinpointing Lumumba like old times, the next inflicting an unsociable high bump to Dane Swan’s noggin.

By the last change only the bilious possibility of losing the ‘Bucks v Mick IV’ stoush inspired sufficient blood flow to avert hypothermia.

Both the dark navy and powder blue teams kept pressing in the final term, thus ensuring steady TV ratings and Collingwood rage were maintained. Sub Ben Kennedy made a noticeable impact since replacing Elliott in the third term.  A tremendous intercept enabled BOG Steele Sidebottom to ice the match with a low one from outside 50m that eventually skidded through across the permafrost. The Magpie squadron (as opposed to army) leapt to their feet and Sunday bloody Sunday night was momentarily forgotten, if not forgiven.

Fittingly, one of few highlights of the lowest Collingwood-Carlton attended MCG match in 93 years occurred when Daisy took a specky seconds after the siren. By then many diehards had already filed out bemused, confused. What next? Tuesday morning at Mawson’s Base?

Using the most committed fans as guinea pigs in a quest to extract a few dollars more to bankroll a competition living beyond its means ain’t cool Gill.  As the nadir of crazy scheduling, this game may yet be remembered after all, as the turning point when the fans reclaimed the game.

COLLINGWOOD    6.3    8.8    10.12     13.13 (91)
CARLTON                   2.2   6.3         7.7     11.10 (76)

Collingwood: Pendlebury 2, Young 2, Ball 2, Sidebottom 2, Keeffe, Goldsack, Cloke, Witts, Beams
Carlton: Everitt 2, Henderson 2, Judd, Casboult, McLean, Gibbs, Thomas, Menzel, Murphy

Collingwood: Sidebottom, Macaffer, Swan, Pendlebury, Dwyer, Beams
Carlton: Nicholls, Ryan, Jeffery

Umpires: Nicholls, Ryan, Jeffery

Crowd: 40,936 at the MCG


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