Collingwood fans celebrate last week’s win over the Giants. Picture: Tony Gough
Collingwood fans celebrate last week’s win over the Giants. Picture: Tony Gough

Robbo: Tigers-Pies hatred is real

WHEN the siren sounded in the semi-final at the MCG, prompting a thunderous roar that announced Collingwood was into the preliminary final against Richmond, the past introduced itself to the present.

One wonders what the youth of today - players and fans - make of Friday night's game.

Is it just another match in the AFL conglomerate?

Or do they feel the tug of yesteryear, told by fathers and grandfathers, who grew up with a 12-team competition and who just might be seen in those quickened, grainy, black and white movie reels when stepping off trams on Wellington Parade.

It's been so long since these powerhouses have played in such a consequential game.

Richmond hates Collingwood. Collingwood hates Richmond. It's been that way since anyone can remember, and if you barrack for either of these teams and were asked why, you'd probably shrug your shoulders.

They just do.

The immediate reaction when the siren sounded six nights back was simply "YES".

If we can be dramatic, it might be the greatest preliminary final of all time.

Their previous final was in 1980 and the jingle at the time was about meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.

Since then, the internet was invented, Wi-Fi is a bestie and the match on Friday night could be watched on smartphones and laptops anywhere in the world.

Hearing what the clubs' icons - Jack Dyer and Lou Richards - would think of this monstrosity of reach would be worthwhile listening.

Dyer famously said he hated Collingwood so much he wouldn't watch black and white TV, so it's hard to know how he'd go with Fox Footy, 24/7, siren-to-siren.

 

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley has been an inspiring figure. Picture: Michael Klein
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley has been an inspiring figure. Picture: Michael Klein

 

 

Dyer was whimsical, but his hatred for Collingwood was forever real.

In his 1965 book, he wrote: "Whenever I have a nightmare it isn't in colour. It's always black and white, the colours of the meanest, toughest club ever to run on to a football field. Collingwood.

"I've laboured the point of my hatred of Collingwood and it isn't a friendly dislike - as
a club they rankle me.

"You couldn't like them, they think they are God's gift to football, they shun all outsiders, and the only time I like to think of Collingwood is when they lose, because it hurts them so much."

Sadly, the youth of today might not be familiar with "Captain Blood" and what he means to the Richmond Football Club.

Life moves quick, too quick sometimes, and that's why history is important.

It's why Collingwood's headquarters has statues of Lou Richards and Bobby Rose, and Dyer is at Punt Rd.

Oh, what Bobby would think of the deeds of coach Nathan Buckley.

Folklore has it Rose was the best to player for the Magpies, that is until Rose said Buckley was the best he'd seen.

Rose had his challenges as Collingwood coach, losing the 1964, '66 and '70 Grand Finals.

And so, too, has Bucks. We know the story. He was almost sacked, he wasn't, and now his team is two games away from chronicling one of the greatest stories in the history of the Collingwood Football Club.

The favourite son might become their favourite coach.

 

Richmond legend Jack Dyer hated Collingwood.
Richmond legend Jack Dyer hated Collingwood.

 

 

If they win, Eddie McGuire would love it. That joke by Sam Newman about Ed coming home one night and seeing Bucks on one side of the bed and wife Carla on the other, and being asked which side he would get into, might get dusted off again.

McGuire devours history.

This is his 20th year as president, and at the end of last year he launched the review from the starting point that Buckley would not be sacked - and he and football boss Geoff Walsh worked backwards from there.

It's been an inspired decision and Buckley has been an inspiring figure.

He has always been highly respected by rivals, but now he is liked and highly respected by rivals because of what he gives to the footy community in commentary and his achievements this season.

These two teams last played in a preliminary final in 1973 - it was a hell of a season for the Magpies … until September.

They went 19-3, had the week off, lost to Carlton by 20 points in the second semi and to Richmond by seven points in the preliminary - it was straight sets when straight sets meant much more than today.

It was a tattoo of ridicule.

 

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire sings the club song after last week’s win over GWS. Picture: Michael Klein
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire sings the club song after last week’s win over GWS. Picture: Michael Klein

 

 

Neil Balme, the ex-Tiger who worked with Buckley and McGuire at Collingwood and is back at Tigerland, kicked five goals in that preliminary final.

"I do remember it quite well," he said between telling everyone this week that Dustin Martin would play.

"We were behind early, we hung in there, Royce (Hart) was sitting on the bench in the first half and came on and did a pretty good job. Stewy (Ian Stewart) kicked a goal just before halftime from memory - we might've been down by 42 just before halftime and Stewy kicked a goal, which gave us a bit of confidence.

"I think Thommo (Len Thompson) started at centre half-forward, they did a few other funny things, and I think Bourkey (Francis Bourke) might've picked him up."

Balme was hated by Carlton for haymakers in the 1970s.

"That's what it was like in those days, a lot more combative and competitive than it is now," he said.

But it was different with Collingwood.

"We were a bit respectful of each other because we were probably a bit closer to each other off the field," he said.

"We knew each other reasonably well so it was never horrible, it was never hatred, it was good, strong competition.

"We loved playing Collingwood in a final because we believed they'd never beat us - it finished up being true."

 

Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin at training ahead of Friday night’s preliminary final against Collingwood. Picture: AAP
Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin at training ahead of Friday night’s preliminary final against Collingwood. Picture: AAP

 

 

Where once youngsters would roll up newspapers or buy fat, brown plastic footies to kick in their loungerooms and hallways, and read about heroes of today and season gone by, today's kids have grown up on phones, the Xbox and Playstations - devouring history is not their go.

"I can understand that … the history is good to be read, but it doesn't necessarily influence the future in its own way, does it?" Balme said.

In 20 years, we might talk about how Mason Cox kicked five goals just like Balmey, or how Tyson Goldsack quelled Jack Riewoldt coming off an ACL, or how Dusty added another layer to his greatness.

Whatever happens, this game will be long remembered, because games like Friday night, at the MCG and in front of 100,000 fans, are the very essence of history.

It's Richmond v Collingwood. Suburb v suburb. Hatred v hatred.

It's going to be a corker.



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