I’m a little late to the writing desk this week, having to juggle work commitments and being delayed in getting to see the vision from last Thursday night’s triumph over Geelong. This does, however, present me with an opportunity to bridge our last win with our upcoming challenge – perhaps the biggest test we’ve had in three weeks – against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
I was absent during the post-season last year and as such, wasn’t present to do any end of year wraps, sift through any of the grisly bits nor pay homage to departed servants. The changes were fairly modest and obvious: the expected retirement of Daniel Wells; the delisting of Sam Murray and Ben Crocker; the shifting of Lynden Dunn to the rookie list and of course, the retirement of the subject of this piece, Tyson Goldsack.
After a disappointing fortnight, compounded by a three ring act off-field, the team hopped on one of the last planes out of Victoria as the state returned to lock down. We had previously been scheduled to enter the WA hub alongside Geelong, but with the AFL having to shuffle the fixture given the developing situation in Victoria, we found ourselves facing Hawthorn on Friday night at GIANTS Stadium.
“May you live in interesting times” is an expression that many otherwise insulated people around the world have had an opportunity to familiarise themselves with this year, along with the ill intent contained within it. Over the past week, it has become clear to Collingwood supporters that the one escape they might have enjoyed throughout…
In what was an arm wrestle north of the border, another opportunity for atonement has gone begging. Disappointing as this was, the true tragedy of our 2 point loss to the Giants is undoubtedly the loss of Jeremy Howe, which will have significant ramifications on our chances heading forward.
Three rounds into this strange season and we’re sitting second on the ladder courtesy of a brutal dismantlement of the Bulldogs; a forgettable arm wrestle against the Tigers; and most recently, a very solid deconstruction of the Saints. Our performances thus far haven’t been perfect, the contest against the Tigers being one of the more forgettable spectacles of football in recent memory, but on balance we’ve been more impressive than not given the strange preparation.
It was a fortnight of contrasts as we kicked off our 2019 campaign, beginning with a disappointing narrow loss to Geelong before turning things around in exceptional fashion against fellow flag favourites Richmond a week later. The difference between both contests was immense, as we looked rusty and rather pedestrian against the Cats but then won instant redemption by conjuring an exciting yet clinical dismemberment of the Tigers.
When recently writing of the season that just was, I mused about the possibility of writing a piece exploring our history of Grand Final defeats. Admittedly, it was never a piece that I was in a rush to get to, especially not at a point when our most recent loss was so raw. However, being a little further removed from that most recent of wounds has perhaps allowed time to act as a salve of sorts, at least enough to dampen the sort of emotion that might plague such a discussion.
It has been a few weeks now since the trade period ended, meaning that yours truly has been customarily tardy — but better late than never, as they say. This year’s trade period shaped as an interesting one given the amount of movement amongst established players: GWS were faced with another salary dump fire sale; Gold Coast’s co-captain bookends decided to head south simultaneously; and of course, there was the eleventh hour confirmation of the desire of Dayne Beams to return to Collingwood.
I confess that ahead of the Grand Final, a big part of me was hoping that when I did get around to writing an article about our season, it would be something bordering on epic, perhaps even akin to hagiography. As the season unfolded, I was increasingly taken by a heady emotional cocktail: a mixture of pride, humility and the surreal. That the Grand Final unfolded as it did has, not surprisingly, knocked some of the wind out of my sails and made for a heavy comedown.