It’s April Fool’s Day and I wake to learn Ronnie Corbett has sadly fallen off his stool. I am reminded of the famous comedian again this night when Collingwood opens proceedings like one of Corbett’s signature jokes; good intentions notwithstanding, it’s the incessant detours and sidetracks which leave viewers guffawing.
The punchline remains distant as the second quarter heads down more tangents. Stumblebum ‘Pies miss targets all over the ground, meanwhile, the Tiges save their profligacy for the goals. The Magpie Army has no sound, the team no shape, no form. Reid’s promising return and the fortuitous five point deficit aside, by the interval I’m about as amused as last week’s Sydney debacle (my son made me a get well card at half time – seriously!).
Two American girls standing beside me at the Ponsford end make for interesting listening as they try to unlock this vexing code. They seem blissfully unaware of the show’s true stench. Wannabe wits mining the Magpies’ misfortunes form a disorderly queue. Writerly Richmond diehard Tony Greenberg tweets that Collingwood supporters have a smell you can photograph. Unfollow!
Born the same year as Darren Millane died, Dustin Martin plays as if he’s manifested the spirit of the ‘Raging Bull’. His early second half goal was vintage Pants, busting past several hapless defenders. Thankfully the third term proves almost watchable when Collingwood threatens to resemble an AFL side. Fasolo, Langdon (!) and Grundy convert in quick succession however Collingwood again fluffs their lines, allowing Richmond to regroup.
By the last change the game has reached another stalemate. Who dares wins. Who dares watch?
After beginning the game in promising fashion, comic relief Travis Cloke snaps a goal with his right boot. Such an April Fools joke after midday supposedly bares recriminations. Moments later, with perfect comic timing, he misses a gimme from the same spot on his preferred leg.
Occasionally there’s a grey area where sport and real life dramas overlap. An anti-Muslim banner hung in the nosebleeds was no laughing matter, nor was Alex Fasolo’s fall to earth from a great height, on his head, six days prior in Sydney. Tonight Fas is making the most of his lucky escape, unburdened by the suffocating pressure evidently affecting the rest of the crew. Where a sore Pendlebury incomprehensibly overran a ball to gift the Tigers a goal, Fasolo Hoovers up the sharpest of half volleys and in one motion curls a thirst quenching ripper over his shoulder.
Alas, Riewoldt responds quickly after a balletic grab over an obliging stepladder in Langdon. Suddenly Collingwood has an invigorated Jack to contend with. Last week’s spontaneous combustion on the couch was incited by one of the worst Collingwood performances in memory. This week my tipping point is reached when the Tigers claw their way to the ascendancy after a spate of slapstick blunders in the backline.
It’s time-on and 17 points in arrears the exit is beckoning. I’d rather listen to Nickelback’s Rockstar (Youtube it folks) than hear that Yellow and Black!!! refrain. Richmond only need one more to draw the curtain however Collingwood’s comedy capers threaten to prove an infectious disease to tease and torment the Tigers’ tortured hordes.
The Fasolo man slams down another but Richmond fans and Trent Cotchin feel comfortable enough to go the early crow on Adam Treloar. The midfield gun continues to fire, rendering his spurned suitors a bunch of sad clowns.
The umpire hands Fasolo his sixth straight and I just get this funny Brucey Mac feeling the ‘Pies would somehow extract the last laugh. A couple promising forays are turned back before Vlastuin directs a handball at the boundary with the subtlety of Mel Brooks. From where Billy Picken hoofed the ball to Twiggy Dunne to tie the ’77 Grand Final, a composed Darcy Moore directs a similar speculative punt to the hot spot. There’s no miracle grab but the ball falls in Grundy’s lap for a quick snap with four seconds to go. Cue delirium and hilarity in equal measure.
You don’t get to enjoy too many high-five-hug-a-stranger wins and I’m not going to let Marley’s kicking, Brodie’s marking, Frost’s loose checking, Caff’s disappearing and Gault’s everything dull my celebration.
Instead I think of a rancorous footy journo, the haters, the hecklers, the wits, the twitts.
And it’s good night for me, and bad night for them.
COLLINGWOOD 2.1 3.3 7.7 13.9.87
RICHMOND 2.2 3.8 7.12 12.14.86
Collingwood: Fasolo 6, Grundy 2, Moore, Aish, de Goey, Cloke, Langdon
Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Short 3, Lambert 2, Vickery 2, Martin, Lloyd
Collingwood: Fasolo, Treloar, Ramsay, Pendlebury, Adams, Greenwood
Richmond: Martin, Cotchin, Houli, Lambert, Short, Riewoldt
Umpires: Rosebury, Farmer, Foot
Attendance: 72,761 at MCG