Greater Western Sydney made sure it was two new teams in this year’s grand final when it bundled out last year’s runner up in a nail-biting four-point win over the Magpies on Saturday evening.
For the Giants, it is their first grand final appearance and they will take on the might of Richmond next Saturday.
For Collingwood, though, was it a successful year or not? Another goal in the dying stages of the preliminary final would have seen them go through to their second successive grand final and rank them again as the second (or first) most successful team of the year.
Even to a dyed-in-the-wool Magpie supporter like me, I find it hard to believe that the Collingwood’s level of talent is as good as Richmond’s, West Coast’s, Greater Western Sydney’s or maybe even Geelong’s.
However, they do have a game plan and a large enough sprinkling of champions and above-average footballers to be competitive with all teams.
In a year where they managed to beat all other finalists except Greater Western Sydney, who handed them their biggest thrashing of the year (47 points), they played in six games where the margin was less than ten points, winning three and losing three and snuck into the top four courtesy of Hawthorn’s last round win against the West Coast Eagles.
On those statistics, fourth spot was about their true position. Injuries during the year and at finals time were a factor, but not an excuse – they happen to all teams.
Player-wise their ranks were boosted by two first-year players who acquitted themselves well, the 22-year-old John Noble who played in four wins for the season before his first loss in the preliminary final, and Isaac Quaynor, the millennium baby who also played four games before being injured in Round 19.
The stand out recruit for the year, however, was 28-year-old Western Bulldog discard Jordan Roughead who played every game and – even before a disappointing total of eight disposals this weekend – had recorded the most number of disposals in his ten-year AFL career.
Of the other players, the club is fortunate to have two of their top 20 all-time game players still playing near their peak in Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom which gives them time to regroup and build their depth for another tilt at the flag. Ben Reid – who played his 150th game this week – joined the elite top 100 game players at the club during 2019.
The only other top 100 game player on the list this year was the recently retired Tyson Goldsack who failed to play a senior game in 2019 but gave the Magpies magnificent service during his 13-year career at the club.
Always a fringe player at the club he suffered his fair share of injury and illness but his ability to play a number of positions generally meant he was the first player chosen to replace any injured player and he rarely let the club down. As a result, he played in 17 finals for the club, including the 2010 winning grand final replay and the 2018 losing grand final.
In 2010 he came in for the injured Leon Davis and in 2018 the only four games he played were the four finals, again making the team because of the Magpies’ run of injuries.
Recruited from Pakenham and Gippsland Under 18s in 2007, he made the most of his ability and retires in 68th position on Collingwood’s all-time top 100 game players, so he is sure to grace the tables with Collingwood’s other elite for decades to come.