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.
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.
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.
Having clawed our way into second spot on the ladder, we’ve now managed to fend off our fellow climbers to maintain our position just shy of the summit for yet another week. To be fair, our footing is precarious and on the weekend we did rely quite heavily on some superhuman efforts from our leading Sherpas in Pendlebury, Grundy and the emerging De Goey to kick free of the Bombers, but once more we have done what was required to get the four points — for the seventh round in a row.
The closest a Collingwood supporter might get to Manichaeism is when our club lines up against Carlton. A victory is that much more euphoric when it comes at the expense of such darkness, a confirmation that all is right in the world; defeat however might induce a nightmarish fever dream, a catalyst for eternal night until the next opportunity to correct the balance arrives.
We rode a wave into the mid-season break this year, building a winning streak which culminated in a performance that may have supplanted our victory on the road against Adelaide in terms of excellence by putting an end to Melbourne’s streak in emphatic fashion.
A fortnight ago, I suggested that the coming month shaped as an important one in gauging our progress thus far in 2018. The Saints and the Bulldogs have been struggling this year, but nonetheless such opponents had a habit of knocking us off in previous seasons, as we tended to put in one of our all-too-familiar dysfunctional performances that would open us up to playing a team into form, or merely just giving a similarly middling team’s fans something to cheer about. So I’m glad that, two weeks later, we’ve managed to bank 8 points and sneak back into the top eight.
After a three game winning streak, Sunday provided a reality check for our club — but not an unwelcome one. Despite the final margin, our performance throughout most of the game was encouraging and one might even argue that we may have gotten more out of Sunday’s loss, than out of any of the wins that preceded it.