The Roar
The Roar


Despite the heartbreak, there is plenty of cause for optimism at Collingwood

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Roar Rookie
18th September, 2022
1650 Reads

Collingwood supporters would understandably be feeling gutted right now.

They have just lost a preliminary final to Sydney by the barest of margins – a single point. They would be shattered.

Just two extra points in a comeback that started when 36 points down, and they’d be celebrating and preparing for next week’s grand final. Instead, they’ll have to sit back and watch Geelong and Sydney battle it out for the 2022 premiership.

However, the Pies could do no wrong by taking a trip down memory lane. History can and sometimes repeats itself.

Hawthorn lost a preliminary final by only three points to Collingwood themselves in 2011. As a passionate Hawks supporter, I was absolutely devastated at the time, as I’m sure many Collingwood supporters are right now.

Feelings of despair, frustration, agony begin to kick in. A missed opportunity. The unknown of when we’ll get another chance.

Little did I know that would motivate our side to higher levels. We would end up playing in the next four grand finals; after narrowly losing the 2012 decider to Sydney, we would win the next three premierships.


The Pies have shown incredible growth this year. They have gone from finishing 17th on the ladder last season to finishing in the top four and missing out on a grand final berth by the barest of all margins.

When Craig McRae took over the Magpies’ head coaching role, the club was in a shambles. Club legend Nathan Buckley had left the hot seat, long-term president Eddie McGuire had resigned from his role, there were challenges at board level and the club was lingering second last on the ladder.

What a daunting task for any experienced coach to take on, let alone a new rookie.

But with the assistance of a new team of assistant coaches, including good mate Justin Leppitsch and Brendon Bolton, McRae united the playing list and the club. He was able to get the players to buy into his game style in such a short period of time. They are now playing a more daring and direct attacking style of football.

It is an incredible achievement by a new coach in the first year of his tenure. No one saw their incredible climb up the ladder coming. In fact, at the beginning of the season, most AFL experts didn’t even envisage them making the finals, let alone the top four.

Not only has improvement been achieved this year, the man affectionately known as “Fly” has laid the foundation for sustained success.

Craig McRae

Collingwood coach Craig McRae. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Collingwood finished the home and away season with 16 wins and only six losses. They then proved in the finals they can match it with the best – only losing to the two grand finalists by a total of seven points, going down to the Cats in the qualifying final by just six points.

The way the two preliminary finals panned out, a strong case can be argued that they were clearly the third best team in the competition.

McRae has the players believing that their game style stacks up against the best teams in the competition. They have a belief they can win any game they play.

Collingwood are the second highest ranked pressure team in the competition. And while they may lose a couple of players through retirements, delistings and trades, the core nucleus of the playing group will remain on the list next year.

Captain Scott Pendlebury’s impact has been instrumental, including a season-best 34 possessions against the Cats in the qualifying final. His finals experience shone through. Steele Sidebottom, the other remaining 2010 premiership player, also provides great leadership on-field.

Jeremy Howe and Jamie Elliott are another couple of veterans who provide sound leadership to their inexperienced teammates. Defender Brayden Maynard and John Noble will be just some of the other Pies who will continue to propel the Pies next year.


Jack Crisp, in his 200th game, continued to show why he’s such an important clog in this Pies side.

Then there’s been the development of Ash Johnson, John Noble, Isaac Quaynor and crafty forward Jack Ginnivan. These youngsters are showing they are crucial to Collingwood’s future plans.

Johnson has only played nine games and has averaged just under two goals per game. Johnson also epitomises Collingwood’s pressure, averaging 2.1 tackles as well as 4.1 score involvements per game.

Ginnivan finished the season as the club’s second highest goalkicker kicking 40.19, only behind forward Brody Mihocek. The Daicos brothers are still young and have already shown what incredible talent they have. Another season will only make them better for the experience.

And the Pies have become a destination club.

The status of Jordan De Goey has been a contentious issue for some time. While the out-of-contract star remains unsigned, he showed during the finals what he can do. It’ll be interesting to see what he and the club decide to do. Some would say it would be good for him to repay the faith the club has had in him, sticking by him during times of alleged misconduct. Time will tell where his future lies, but at this stage it appears likely to stay at the AIA Centre.


The likes of Hawthorn Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, GWS Giants’ Bobby Hill and Brisbane forward Daniel McStay have been linked to Collingwood.

Adelaide utility Billy Frampton has also expressed his desire to join Collingwood. The Pies seem interested in acquiring his services too.

These four will be great additions to the side.

There has been a lot of conjecture around ruckman Brodie Grundy’s future at the club. Even if he decides to leave, Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox have demonstrated they can fill the ruck void.

There has also been speculation that youngster Ollie Henry will request a trade to join his brother Jack at Geelong. He was Collingwood’s first pick in the 2020 draft, and has the potential to be a star. But the Pies have enough depth to cover him and can draft a player to replace him.

Despite the heartbreak of Saturday’s preliminary final loss, there is plenty of reason for optimism for 2023 and beyond at Collingwood.

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