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.
We got to bask in our victory against Adelaide for longer than usual, with those of the faithful who flocked to Victoria Park to watch our VFL squad conquer Essendon on Saturday being afforded the chance to augment the joy, but I doubt I was alone in fearing that the satisfaction of the Adelaide victory might be short lived if the team came unstuck on Anzac Day.
By about 11:00pm on Friday night, I don’t think I was alone in wondering if this is what relapsing was like for a recovering addict: vaguely remembered elation, the potency of which was magnified by a prolonged period of deprivation; a form of euphoria which could damn near put you over the edge when that sweet hit of pure football was also so unexpected.
Three rounds into season 2018 and our performances thus far have been what most expected. A poor start in round one, followed by an improved showing against GWS in the second round, culminating in a win against an extremely poor Carlton. Nonetheless, while many of the problems we’ve witnessed in previous seasons remain apparent, there were some aspects worthy of praise in Friday night’s win.
This season has been much like the ones that preceded it, but we have at least been treated with some interesting spectacles towards the death. We triumphed in the final minutes after a messy contest against the Eagles at Etihad Stadium and most recently, played part in a dramatic draw against the ladder leaders Adelaide at the MCG.
After all too familiar losses to the likes of Essendon, St Kilda and Carlton, I had resigned myself once more to putting any expectations of team success on hold for 2017, focusing instead on the progress of individual players as we waited out what should be the final year of the current coaching line-up.