Collingwood v North Melbourne – The Stuff

A match that was speculated to be an absolute mauling by the Magpies didn’t quite work out the way. North Melbourne looked a little shaky early but the young Kangaroos showed some real pluck as they went head-to-head with the ladder-leading premiership favourites.

The Kangaroos had shown some heart the previous week, after their senior coach Alastair Clarkson took a step away from the club to focus on his wellbeing. Only being denied by an interchange infringement in the final minutes of the match.

Collingwood… well what more can you say. They came into the match on a six game winning streak after just dispatching their oldest nemesis and having only lost a single game for the year. They are the current benchmark of 2023.

But enough preamble, let’s get into the stuff that mattered.


The Best Stuff


They’re Daicos’s’s’s’s’s

That’s right, Ned Flanders went baptising and christened the North Melbourne Football Club as part of the Daicos family.  Collingwood fans really do act like Nick is the second coming, obviously not realising that the real second coming retired in 2020.

But it is hard to deny just how good the Daicos brothers have been in 2023 and again in this match. Four goals and 50 disposals between them. Also, the way they find each other, and not just directly, but also indirectly. Linking up on the same passages of play and knowing where each other are going to be and where they’re going to go with the ball.

Yes, the Magpies are doing this well as a team across the board, but if you watch closely, you can clearly see these two take it to another level, with maybe the exception of Pendlebury who seems to have joined in a long-lost older brother.

If you were doing a mid-year All-Australian team, you would have to have both Daicos brothers in it, otherwise, you’d be spending your days trying to justify why you left either one of them out.


Nick Larkey

Looking back, the signs were there in the first half. strong leads, getting hands to the odd footy but not quite clunking it. Larkey was still doing a lot right, he was just playing against the best duo of key defenders in the AFL currently. It was not an ideal first half, but just like the rest of his teammates, Larkey wasn’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater and ensured that if nothing else, he would take some pride out of this match.

In the end, the margin wasn’t as significant a factor as even some Magpie fans enjoyed watching a high-flying key forward in full flight.  And as stated only a couple sentences ago, to do it against Moore and Murphy. Wow.


The Good Stuff


Hugh Greenwood

That is exactly the game the Kangaroos want from Hugh Greenwood. Just absolute bash and crash, bull at the gate style of play. North have a glut of outside players at the moment, with most of them being on the younger side. With guys like Cunnington falling out of favour or simply just getting old, Greenwood now needs to bear a lot of the pressure of the inside mid role. And in this match, he did it very well, against one of the better midfields they will face.


Mason Cox

Cox was celebrating his own milestone as he played his 100th AFL match for Collingwood. He is the first American to do so. Everyone knows the story very well. Coming onto the scene with an ANZAC Day debut, looking like a juvenile giraffe in the middle of a lion’s den at times.

Then it all clicked and we got some outrageous performances, most notably the 2018 Preliminary Final against Richmond. Any person who can have the MCG crow chanting “U.S.A.” has to be someone very special.

Then came the injuries and Cox almost going blind. Now Cox is a fashion trendsetter, but also allowing a whole new generation of vision-challenged players to see they can play just as good of footy as anyone.

Cox has the swagger and arrogance we associate with the yanks and their more individualised style of sportsperson. You only have to look at his performances, when he takes a big mark and get in the face of his opponent, even before he has kicked the goal. Just driving home, the fact he knows he’s got them in the aerial contest. On any other player, it would be a hit to his character, but on Cox it actually seems to enhance it.

Perhaps his highly visible social media presence and some of his more tender actions coming to light off the field help sand off some of that rough edging. Who knows? All we know is that we’ve been lucky to Cox play. He is one of a kind.


The Not-So-Good Stuff


Celebrating from the Side lines

This game had a script all written for it. Steele Sidebottom was celebrating game 300 for Collingwood. The Magpies were first on the ladder against he 17th placed North Melbourne. The chasm between he two could barely have been wider. And then in the first 10 minutes Sidebottom was already showing vintage form. But alas, an arrow from someone in the crowd hit Sidebottom in the knee and his adventuring days were done. Just 15 minutes into the first quarter. Unfortunately, he watched most of his milestone game from the side lines, which does not do such an outstanding player justice.

It’s very standard to say that Sidebottom is one of the good guys in footy. How many 300-game players have been absolute flogs? Not many, if any. And Sidebottom has had his own controversies at times, but nothing that outrageous. He really has been a staple of the Collingwood football club and hasn’t managed to make the rest of the AFL fan base completely despise him. The only other player comparable is probably Pendlebury.

It may not have been the day he wanted, but Sidebottom has had a career for many to envy. Despite his injury in the match, he has been an incredibly durable player throughout his career.


The Crowd

To the bemoaning of most Collingwood fans, this match was scheduled at Marvel Stadium, but surely that wouldn’t mean anything to the Collingwood army, as they follow their team in the best form they’ve been in in recent memory, and with one player celebrating game 300 and another fan favourite celebrating a monumental game 100…? right? There shouldn’t have been enough seats in Marvel, and certainly none left over for any North Melbourne fans.

Well, let’s just say that having 39,000 fans in attendance may be good for some clubs, but it was a bit underwhelming for Collingwood. Blame the weather, blame the transport options (because you know, there are no trains near Marvel and the stadium isn’t enclosed, at all) but in the end, a “sell out” crowd didn’t quite eventuate.


The Other Stuff


I, Me, Mihocek

Just thought there was a bit of “me time” about Mihocek in this game. Had a few chances to bring teammates into the game in scoring positions and continually elected to take the shot himself. We’re not talking Bailey Fritsch areas just yet, but it is a definite watch over the next couple of weeks. One week is an anomaly, multiple weeks is a trend.


Bobby Hill

Just keeps on keeping on in this Collingwood team. Such clean hands and fantastic skills. Hill has been a very shrewd recruit for Collingwood that has exceeded all expectations anyone might have had pre-season.


George Wardlaw

Kangaroo fans would’ve loved what they saw from young Wardlaw in this game. Some genuine flashes f brilliance. That play early in the last from the centre bounce was exceptional.


Jaidyn Stephenson

It should be noted that Stephenson also played his 100th AFL match in this game. Ironically split between the two competing clubs. Stephenson has had his ups and downs at the Kangaroos but was more than serviceable in this game today.


The Wrap



The Magpie train continues rolling on. A similar fixture awaits next week against the struggling West Coast before arguably the match of the season so far against Melbourne on King’s Birthday weekend. Now sitting on seven consecutive wins and a game and percentage clear in first place and three games clear of fourth position. Collingwood can handle the second half of this season however it wants in order to be cherry ripe for September. They’re in the box seat. Pole position as it were. Everyone else is playing catch-up.


North Melbourne

A strong showing for the young Kangaroos. In what threatened to be a horrible blowout late in in the third quarter, the resilience from the young team will give interim coach Brett Ratten and their fans [plenty to hope for against lesser opposition. North Melbourne have three more consecutive games at Marvel stadium before a late bye in round 15. These are against Essendon, GWS Giants and the Western Bulldogs. Kangaroos’ fans will be hoping they’re competitive in all of those and even might pinch a win in one of those fixtures.



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