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Opinion

Five reasons to watch Collingwood in 2020

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Roar Guru
8th April, 2020
15

There’s no footy. Richo and Browny are resorting to calling Xbox simulations of AFL fixtures. And Brian Taylor’s commentating on traffic.

What better time to seek out some off-kilter and slightly unhinged reasons to watch each club in 2020?

Steele Sidebottom
He sounds like he’s a poorly thought-out underground wrestling persona but was set on a path to greatness by his parents on the second of January 1991 at the signing of his birth certificate.

Steele announced himself to the footballing world proper in the 2008 TAC Cup grand final when he kicked 10.3 from 32 touches for the Murray Bushrangers, in the process making a mockery of the term “he’s having a day out”.

There’s a point in his thorough manhandling of the Dandenong Stingrays where he marks an errant kick-in, and simply giggles to himself as he waltzes back and slots his sixth.

Now an 11-year, 234-game veteran, Sidebottom is a crucial midfield/forward cog for Collingwood, whose experience will no doubt aid the development of younger teammates.

Also, Tom Liberatore announced him as the player he’d most like to play with. If that recommendation doesn’t do it for you, nothing will.

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Mason Cox
Mason Cox is talented at many things. Geography is not one of them. Prior to heading to Australia to train for a chance at making the AFL, his train of thought read as such, according to Sports Illustrated: “I thought it might be like some Eastern European basketball league that would fold a week after I got there. Or I might get stuck in Botswana or somewhere without any way to get home”.

The less said about his irrational fears of stopovers in landlocked Southern Africa, the better. Speaking of basketball, Mason once guarded Joel Embiid as Oklahoma State battled Kansas in the NCAA. For the uninitiated, Embiid is a dominant force in the NBA, a 213-centimetre, 113-kilogram beast who chews up and spits out opponents on the regular.

At the time, Mason was a poor man’s walk-on. Cox went mano-a-mano and stopped Embiid in his tracks. Not once. But twice. Cox faced a similarly tough task in the 2018 preliminary final, going up against a rampaging Tigers outfit. Similar odds of success. Same result. Mason’s going up against the pressure of shedding the novelty factor in 2020 and securing his spot in the Magpies’ best 22. Based on his life to date, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Scott Pendlebury
Doctor Strange possesses the power to warp time, open up wormholes, and genuinely mess with people. Case in point. On the field, Scott Pendlebury accesses Benedict Cumberbatch’s powers to elude the grasp of his opponents.

Scott Pendlebury of the Magpies celebrates a win

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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He channels Matthew McConaughey and throws dust patterns from the tesseract onto the outer wing of the MCG that spell out future 30-touch performances. He pulls off Schwarzenegger-esque camouflage to disappear from the heat-seeking sights of opposition taggers. He engages – according to David Rath, the head of the AFL’s game analysis department – in genuine psychological warfare on the field.

Rath’s description in The Age is unlike any analysis I’ve seen before: “We’re seeing an almost subconscious ‘battle’ between Pendlebury and the opponents who are seeking to defend him. The defenders who want him to commit and Pendlebury who wants them to commit”.

Of course, the defenders are on a hiding to nothing. Pendles always wins. And here I was thinking that the hardest part of being a professional athlete was the physical aspect.

Jeremy Howe
You could pick one of several thousand hangers from Howe to discuss, but I’ll save you the trouble. In 2017, on the Queen’s Birthday, Jeremy Howe stood on Tom McDonald’s head, decided he wasn’t quite high enough, bounced off him to higher altitudes, and took a chest mark seemingly about four metres off the ground.

Now, as it turned out, Joe Daniher somehow pipped him for mark of the year. Don’t focus on that though. Focus instead on the interview Channel Nine conducted with Warwick Capper in the aftermath. Turning Howe’s screamer into a plug for his shiraz, the Swans legend proceeds to commentate his hanger over Chris Langford from 1987.

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I couldn’t write a better script myself: “I was up there for six hours. I got a phone call, it was air-traffic control, ‘Please get out of the air space, there’s a 747 coming. I said, ‘Let me take mark of the century first’”.

Howe will no doubt continue to abuse gravity in 2020, but will his exploits explode Capper’s brain like they did in 2017? One can only hope so.

Premiership window
Remember when the windows came into view on Play School and you had to guess which one the show would be looking through today? This was followed up by arguments over which was the best window: square, circle, or arch. No? Just me then…

Allegedly there’s a diamond option now. Benita – OG thug and former presenter – has very strong thoughts about this. She’d no doubt have issues with the AFL’s premiership window, an octadecagonal monstrosity.

To many pundits, Collingwood are currently in that window. Or moving through that window? Or eternally trapped, kicking and screaming in an endless two-dimensional plane?

Regardless, they’ve made the grand final and preliminary final the past two seasons, and almost have the magic numbers required to win a flag. For those playing along at home, that’s an average player age of 26-plus and average games played of 120-plus. Could a Collingwood premiership be your favourite thing to see through the window?