‘Pies redesign their brain to avert pain in the rain

As published by The Footy Almanac, 1 June 2015

So there was Redesign my Brain smarty pants Todd Sampson standing atop a 120m high rock tower having climbed it blindfolded.  Ahead is one final test entailing a 30cm wide 10 metre long ridge to the peak.  There’s a gap requiring a small jump, or alternately one can straddle the journey on their butt.  Sampson’s mentor, standing on the other side, recommends the latter.

This momentous challenge required six weeks of intense training that principally involved pain management techniques, adaptability and problem solving. It was gripping TV.

“The body manifests what the mind harbours”.
A. Jeans

To the game and I boldly bring my boy and girl along in the hope a Collingwood victory captivates soccer-mad Luke as much as the Melbourne Victory.

Alas Todd Goldstein is Gary Dempsey, marking at will and enabling North’s running fleet to slice open the flat footed ‘Pies. The Kangaroos simply play organised footy; the Magpies defence no match for talls Waite, Petrie and Brown and smalls Thomas and Nahas.

Only North’s erroneous kicking has the margin at 39 rather than 59 points at the long break. The highlight for Luke and Siena thus far is an impressive rainbow over the ‘G which evaporated as quickly as our chances.

To salvage something from our sorry excursion, half time is spent having a kick in Yarra Park.  That they still wanted a Swan and Sidebottom badge was something.  In their hopeful eyes at least, all was not lost.

momentum (n): an elusive, contagious state of mind which translates to abnormally high energy and confidence.
J. B. Dowsing D.Psych

I’ve attended hundreds of Collingwood games and I’ve rarely witnessed such a monumental change of fortunes.  The Pies play like men possessed.  I think of Sampson’s encounter with a military man whose knife/taser exercise served as a lesson in the power of adrenaline and focus to mask pain and fatigue.

Everything works.  At one stage Pendlebury has the ball on the boundary near the arc.

Luke: ‘Kick it to Jamie, c’mon!’ (being a huge Elliott fan).

Me: ‘Nah, he’s too small and it’s too crowded’ (there’s 36 players in the forward line).

Pendles pinpoints Jamie.  Goal.  OK, I know nothing.

“Oh, Billy, Billy…”
– Judge Smails (Caddyshack)

Now incomprehensively 13 points ahead we’ve adapted, problem solved and almost climbed the mountain.  Only the precarious ridge awaits. My mind wanders forward to post match celebrations with the kids.  I want this badly now – it’ll be a victory to reminisce for years. It’ll be a life lesson in persistence.

And sure enough, on the rare occasion I get ahead of myself I/we pay the price.  North’s four quick goals reclaim the lead.  I think of Sampson almost at the summit and removing his blindfold.  Only then he went weak at the knees.  The end is in sight but the stakes are now apparent.  We’re wobbling.

North fluffs opportunities to seal the deal.  Pass me a blindfold and cigarette Luke.  Now the weather is turning slightly Biblical too.

Swaneeeee!  Unlike Sampson he uses his butt (to mark) and we’re back in front.

I need to restrain my brain before I frighten the kids. They find my celebration amusing though.  I am 7 again.

We’re blind Sampson, standing at the gap.  Do we get down on our haunches and play out time or do we jump?  There’s too much time.

Crisp, Adams, Swan, De Goey, Blair and Elliott bore in.  Goals to Blair and Elliott extend the margin. No more time!

Like Sampson’s mentor when he unbelievably chose a leap of faith, the three of us are standing there wide eyed and mouths agape.


COLLINGWOOD                  
1.2   4.3  13.5  17.10 (112)
NORTH MELBOURNE        
4.4  10.6  10.9   14.11 (95)

Goals
Collingwood:
J Elliott 5 A Fasolo 2 D Swan 2 B Grundy J Blair J Crisp J White J Witts S Pendlebury S Sidebottom T Cloke.
North Melbourne: J Waite 3 R Nahas 3 D Petrie 2 J MacMillan L Thomas R Bastinac S Gibson S Higgins T Goldstein.

BEST
Collingwood:
Elliott, Pendlebury, Swan, Sidebottom, Crisp, Frost, Fasolo, Varcoe.
North Melbourne: Goldstein, Cunnington, Nahas, Waite, Gibson, Harvey, Bastinac, Ziebell

Umpires: Justin Schmitt, Mathew Nicholls, Andrew Mitchell

Attendance: 43,452

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