Two limp losses and a nasty kneecapping have put the willies up Pies types. Their faith is being tested, again, and they know how this usually ends. In tears. Terry Brown isn’t coping terribly well.
The Pies song has got a helluva workout this year, but another one is stuck in my head.
Hello darkness my old friend …
Three weeks ago I caught myself skipping in the park. All the warbling set me off. It felt like spring. You could feel the footy gods smiling gently down.
“Punch yourself in the face, Brown,” I thought. “This is Collingwood.”
But the hope stuck, like a bit of something on your shoe. That’s part of the curse.
For three generations Collingwood has been losing flags. It is their superpower. They can lose a premiership from anywhere.
My personal favourite is when the 1980 Escort Cup umpires didn’t hear the siren over the rowdy celebrations. We cheered ourselves to defeat!
Last time we won a September flag, Elvis was in the army.
It doesn’t augur well, just saying!
The Colliwobbles runs so long now, it has become unwieldy. It takes more fingers than most Pies fans have to count up all the losses.
Wikipedia had to bust it into two parts, before and after 1990. My kids have their own wobbles now. Nice work, dad!
As Collingwood fans, we are used to umpires cheating us and the world being stacked.
We have learnt to like being hated. Eddie told me once “It’s the glue that binds us together!”
But I think it’s pain that’s the glue. The cruelty of footy defines us. We are diseased clumps of hope held together by scars.
Success baffles and frightens us. We don’t understand. We do not cope well. We are mortified and excited at the same time. We don’t get how that works!
And, jeez, it feels different this year, eh? (Whack, ow!)
After a few dozen various dud Clokes, Shaws and Browns, we have three father-son All Australians at once, unless they’re robbed.
DeGoey’s dog has stopped getting into bar fights. Ginny is steering clear of the Portsea pixie dust. Eddie has finally buggered off. Hooray!
Binning Carlton last year was a religious experience.
It has all been so much fun and it isn’t supposed to be.
Life’s landmarks for us are filthy September Saturdays. I was a three day fertilised egg when the Colliwobbles began. I’ve copped the full whack.
My soul died in 1981. I don’t remember any of that game, just waking up Sunday without a soul. The wins after that felt like having a rotten tooth pulled.
But now the Woods don’t feel like a doomsday cult so much.
They are joyous and daring and huggable. The bastards have made me forget. My maggies have made footy fun, and I did not see that coming!
The meanest back six in footy wear Crocs and hug babies. Moorey is so woke, No Doze should sign him up. In Fly We Trust!
There is a special joy in watching “roaming Brian” in the rooms, getting ghosted, sucking it up, bitter as bile from being dropped in 1990.
For a year and a half the Pies have been taking the piss with comebacks, clutch goals and party tricks at the death. Three goals down at three quarter time is our new happy place.
The premiership is clearly Collingwood’s to lose.
Which is what they do best!
In the park, after skipping like a total doofus, I worried that things were going unnaturally well for the Woods. It was unsettling.
They were Winx odds for the flag, miles clear on top, with more spare bodies than Ted Bundy.
But pride comes before a fall, though skipping would cause a few too?
After straight losses, Pies fans are doing it tough now. They are loud and proud and still vile, but there is a note of terror in their howls.
There’s a soccer saying that “It’s the hope that kills you”, but that’s not true. It doesn’t kill you. It leaves you broken and wretched, then comes back to hurt you some more.
This most glorious season could be the worst ever, and that’s saying something.
Sunday morning I read the injury report, chewed a few panadols and listened to the warbling thinking those birds have a bloody cheek.
But there is, maybe, no finer sound than a Sunday morning magpie?
It is joyous. It does sound like hope?
In the sunshine I remembered another foul thing about Collingwood.
Even when they win, they torment us first – 1990 and 2010 had a finals draw to choke on.
This might just be the obligatory test of faith? (Slap!)
There are some reasons for not despairing just yet, though that is always a solid option.
Despite their worst efforts, the Woods are somehow still two games clear on top. They could have taken August off. I sort-of wish they had.
And while it’s miserable about Daicos, at least we have a spare one.
If Nick hadn’t broken his knee now, some Brownlow bookie would have done it for him later. As it is, he will be back, bruise-free and hungry.
And the last time we lost two games in a row we won the next 11?
Maybe the gods are still with us?
I don’t know? You can only hope.
TERRY BROWN worked for many years as a general reporter, columnist and colour writer at The Sun and Herald Sun. He is now an academic lecturing in journalism and is an unpublished novelist.