OF DOMINANCE ALL BUT OVER; COLLINGWOOD BARNSTORM INTO GRAND FINAL TO
Ben Jensen COLLINGWOOD absolutely blew Geelong away at the MCG last night in a 'shock and awe' display of drive-by football; the Cats had no answers in the first quarter, scoring just twice and kicking one goal while the Magpies, cheered on by their painfully vocal and ragtag army, booted seven goals one. The Magpies made a mockery of their 'inaccurate kicking' tag of recent months, while the Cats just couldn't get a chance. By half-time the lead was just over ten goals, Geelong managing two more goals, Collingwood six. JUMP TO FINAL SCORES
It got much worse in the third term, the Cats down by something like 14 goals at one point before the Magpies took their foot off the pedal a little, allowing Geelong to reduce the lead back to about ten goals at the final change. This trend continued in the last quarter, Geelong outscoring Collingwood five goals to two, but this did nothing to hide the gulf that has opened between the Cats and the Magpies & Saints in recent weeks. As we made our way out of the ground and finally onto the Geelong road, several careers had been ended by us fans, those likely to be under the proverbial microscope will include Cameron Mooney, Tom Lonergan, James Podsiadly, Darren Milburn and possibly (unfairly in my view) Tom Hawkins & Brad Ottens.
My Day - something had to give!
I had the feeling all week, in fact since we lost to the Saints when we were in Dubai, that we just couldn't match it with these guys and it turned out exactly like that. I was up in Melbourne all day for job interviews, that all went very well although to rush from 10am until 3:30pm was something else, not a moment to spare in between (even had lunch during one of them which was great actually even if no wine was served). Everyone I met, perhaps being kind but I think not, all told me they thought the Cats were going to win; most of them card carrying members of some team or other. Fortunately nobody owned up to being a Collingwood fan!
After the success, so far at least, from the few firms I visited something had to give I guess. Had a great dinner and beer or two with the wee brother before we made our way down to the caldron otherwise known as the MCG. My goodness, gracious me was it cold?! For months I've been giving folk stick on Facebook for complaining about the winter weather in Melbourne and Geelong; you don't know cold until you've lived in Scotland where the pavement's frozen for two months at a time I'd say! But it was genuinely cold, I was fairly rugged up but by nowhere near enough, it's the wind that gets you, up in row F-F of the Olympic Stand. I've been to football (soccer) games in London and Edinburgh where it was around minus five but you had thermal this, thermal that, gloves, etc and could cope quite easily.
Anyway, was going to be a bad night, Collingwood scored early on and the ferals awoke. I was on the end of an aisle and on the other side were the Wobbler fans, and they were also two rows directly in front of us. The bloke to my left, with some sort of mullet with an undercut, tracksuit pants and a rudimentary language, took immediate delight in baiting us poor souls, standing up and just begging for someone to make eye contact so he could delight in our pain. But that is par for course for a decent percentage of these fans, and Geelong fans being the easiest to wind up in the AFL, took the bait immediately and started answering back about the two Premierships, better employment records, etc. It wasn't to get any better, and it happened 'RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME'.
Other than laugh it off there wasn't much you could do to pass the time, other than leave before quarter time. Which we of course couldn't bring ourselves to do. No, we sat it out and enacted our backup plan agreed before the game to just reflect on the two Premierships in 2007 and 2009 and how fortunate we were to be at the top for a few years. It isn't all bad!
Some further consultation will be the harrowed stories of the 300,000 Collingwood bone fide members come out of the woodwork and miss out on the heavily oversubscribed Grand Final tickets! Oh you poor wee things.
It is time for the youngsters who broke through this season including Dan Menzel, Mitch Duncan, Taylor Hunt, Jeremy Laidler, Simon Hogan and others to be given a chance in round one next season. Others such as Nathan Djerrkura, Ryan Gamble and Trent West (who is going to the Bulldogs) appear to be on the way out the door but could they stay if a few others are moved on?
A week is a long time in football but a year is an eternity; the curtain may have to draw sooner than they wish on players such as the two Camerons - Mooney and Ling, Tom Lonergan and certainly Darren Milburn. Josh Hunt has a great kick but is exposed too often. No time for rash decisions but to hold onto the younger talents hitherto not given an opportunity due to success, painful decisions need to be brought forward.
This is to say nothing about the coach; we'd love Bomber to stay another half a dozen years but if he is pretty much a certainty to go after next season, and maybe even he doesn't know yet, it may be time for him to step down now and start the rebuild. Wouldn't mind a Mick Malthouse or Mark Williams if they're keen on the job!
Most Geelong fans will be keeping the faith however, don't expect a huge drop-off in memberships although I do wonder if a membership in our family might change hands now (you know who you are!).
UMPIRES: Shaun Ryan, Ray 'Razor' Chamberlain, Brett Rosebury
CROWD: 95,241 at MCG, Melbourne
AFL FINALS 2010, 1ST PRELIMINARY FINAL
COLLINGWOOD V GEELONG
FRIDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 2010, 19:45 AEST
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