Collingwood claimed their first Premiership since 2010, ending a thirteen-year drought, after holding on to defeat a valiant Brisbane in a thrilling encounter.Embed from Getty Images
It was perhaps quite fitting that the minor premiers, who have made a name for themselves over the last couple of seasons for winning the close ones, got up by just four points to win their 16th AFL flag and are now equal with Essendon and Carlton.Embed from Getty Images
On a sun-drenched afternoon in Melbourne, the MCG was sold out and rocking with a capacity crowd of 100,024 that saw what will go down as one for the ages.
They were also treated to pre-game and half-time musical performances, which were headlined by Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famers ‘KISS’ that put on quite the show. They were supported by Mark Seymour & The Undertow, Mike Brady, William Barton, Australia’s best didgeridoo player, Jess Hitchcock, a Melbourne-based Indigenous singer-songwriter, while Kate Miller-Heidke sang the national anthem.
Steele Sidebottom kicked what proved to be the winner by holding his nerve to slot through the big sticks, from 50 metres out, to the roar of the black and white army.
There was still to be some nervous moments, though, for the Magpies as Joe Daniher reduced the arrears to within a kick but they were able to see it out.
Saturday 30 September will certainly be a day that Craig McRae will never forget – not only did he win his first flag, in only his second year as a senior coach, but his wife Gabrielle gave birth to their first daughter, Maggie, at 7.45am that morning.
He was presented with the Jock McHale Medal by Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson, himself a three-time premiership player and dual flag-winning coach, for his achievement.Embed from Getty Images
As with these games, there are always a whole host of stories – like Oleg Markov (pictured above) who has had quite a year. Delisted by the Gold Coast Suns, in October 2022, the 27-year-old midfielder, nicknamed ‘Leggy’ and born in Vitebsk (Belarus), was picked up in the off-season, after a spot opened up, and is now a premiership player.
It has certainly been an amazing 2023 for Bobby Hill as he won the Norm Smith Medal. Just twelve months ago he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, at just the age of 22, which he successfully overcame following surgery and a long recovery.
He booted a game-high four majors (as well as racking up 18 disposals, 14 kicks, eight marks, five tackles) to be the unanimous winner with 15 votes given by a panel made up of Luke Darcy, Eddie Betts, Jude Bolton, Sarah Olle and Luke Shuey.
Scott Pendlebury, who broke the VFL/AFL all-time disposal record earlier in the season, can now add another accolade to his already impressive résumé by becoming the first player to win a second premiership 13 years after his first.Embed from Getty Images
Captain Darcy Moore, in his 150th appearance for the club, was presented with the cup by his father Peter, himself an AFL Hall of Famer and two-time Brownlow medallist, which he lifted to spark wild scenes and celebrations amongst the players.
Of course, whilst there is all the joy on one side, you have to feel for the Lions, playing in their first final since 2004, that fall just short at the final hurdle. Whilst it certainly doesn’t feel like it now, they have still had a tremendous season and, with their current squad, you feel that they will be back for another crack in 2024.
Darcy Moore (Collingwood captain): “It’s so surreal. I grew up a Collingwood supporter. I was here in 2010, 2003, 2002, in the stands and it feels surreal, it is just bizarre. So much work goes in for so long, so much has to go right to pull it off today. And we did it.”Embed from Getty Images
Nick Daicos (Collingwood) (pictured above): “I am lost for words. This is everything I have ever wanted. Back in my draft year, I just dreamt of this day and now I am a Premiership player. This is why I play footy and worked so hard in the pre-season.”
Bobby Hill (Collingwood): “Full credit to my team mates to get me in good spots and I finished it off. Very happy. Full credit to ‘Fly’ and the club for making me and my family feel so welcome.”Embed from Getty Images
Mason Cox (Collingwood) (pictured above): “You think it’s all a fairytale and you don’t believe half of it. You came to a country not knowing anything, you’ve reached the pinnacle. It’s incredible to think how far I’ve come in a short period of time. To be able to experience everything this amazing sport has to offer, it’s pretty incredible.”
Jack Crisp (Collingwood): “I’ve been playing over 12 years. It’s been a long time, so to finally get one is an amazing, amazing feeling. Very special.”
Harris Andrews (Brisbane co-captain) (pictured above): “I feel like it hasn’t sunken in yet. It was a fantastic game, thought the boys really rallied hard. We obviously really hurt from this but we understand that we will come back next year, which will be the fire in our belly. Really proud of the boys and we will learn from this. Let’s go again next year.”
View from the coach’s boxEmbed from Getty Images
Craig McRae (Collingwood) (pictured above): “Two years of good habits and acting like winners every day and trying to improve ourselves. Not standing in what we’re trying to do, and in the end, it was an incredible management of moments. That’s probably the storyline for this team. They know how to manage minutes better than anyone I’ve ever seen in the game.”
“Clearly we moved the ball differently; that was the whole theme of the week, let’s not do what we did the week before. We didn’t look to change the angles, didn’t look to bring the ball into the corridor, and didn’t look to switch off turnovers. We knew what to fix. Then we train it and reinforce it and we get the benefit.”
“Credit to all our coaches, Leppa, Bolts, Skip and Scoot and the others, they coached right down to the detail. They have had an incredible season and I am lucky to have such great support around me.”
“This is not about me, this is about 106,000 members. This is about the players and their stories. All our staff.”Embed from Getty Images
Chris Fagan (Brisbane) (pictured above): “There’s lots of teams in the history of the game that have lost close Grand Finals and gone on to win premierships in the ensuing years. You know me, that’ll be my attitude, what can we learn today to make us a better team next year and I’ll never veer away from that.”
“There’s plenty of history around to say that Grand Final losses don’t have to define you or destroy you, they can make you, so that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”
“We’re well and truly in the window and I think we’ve only just moved into the window. I know because we’ve been in finals the last five years the banter has been we may be going to miss our window, but I don’t think so, I think we’re still moving into it.”
“We’ve just got to make sure we handle this loss well, don’t get too upset, don’t get too downhearted. Use it as a spur to get better. We just need to make sure we turn up to the pre-season with the right attitude, with a determination to improve.”Embed from Getty Images
Collingwood 12.18 (90)
Brisbane 13.8 (86)
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