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Dear Brian Taylor: it's time to cut your anti-Collingwood bias out

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Roar Guru
19th June, 2023
79
12240 Reads

Dear Brian,

You came to Collingwood as part of the recruiting wars with Richmond in the 1980s, a genuine star and our first real key forward since Fabulous Phil Carman back in 1975.

The 1980s were heady times. We went from grand finalists (1980 – 81) to the New Magpies administration (1983) vowing success to almost filing for bankruptcy in 1986. But that year was also a turning point for the club with Leigh Matthews assuming the mantle of senior coach.

Matthews led our charge back to respectability, which was no better – or more ideally represented – than your exploits on the field. You brought excitement to Collingwood as our full-forward, kicking bags, showing mongrel, and being larger-than-life in an era we were struggling for heroes.

I was there in 1986 for the final home & away game against St. Kilda where you kicked your 100th goal for the season – the first Collingwood player to hit the century mark since Peter McKenna in 1972.

You remained a mainstay over the next two seasons, although you never hit the same heights, but by 1989 injury was cutting you down, and come 1990 you also seemed to fall from favour as Leigh Matthews decided to build a new attack.

But you were pivotal to our 1990 flag campaign. In the 1990 Qualifying Final against West Coast, we struggled the whole game, while the Eagles kicked goals from everywhere.

When you came on, you gave us a focus and kicked two goals against the flow. Without your efforts, we would have likely lost that game instead of drawn it, and who knows whether we would’ve won the flag had that occurred?

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I write all this because I think I’m not the only one who remembers you fondly as a Collingwood player – a star who gave us hope and good times during one of the most tumultuous periods in the club’s history.

But here’s the thing – now that you’re a commentator, it’s hard to believe you were ever a Collingwood player.

Listening to you, you’d think you would’ve had to have played for an arch-rival, like Carlton or Essendon, and some prejudice against Collingwood was shining through.

Last year, we all had to listen to the war you waged on Jack Ginnivan. Whenever he was hit high, he ducked.

Every. Single. Time. You made sure you pointed it out.

Whenever this occurred with another player, you treated it without judgement. This year, when people like Tim Watson and Cameron Ling have pointed out when Ginnivan has deserved a free kick, you were conspicuously quiet.

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In Brisbane’s clash against Sydney last Friday, Keidean Coleman was awarded a free for being tackled high. Coleman leaned into contact as he gathered the ball.

Your response? You commended him, saying his action was “professionally done”.

I wonder what Jack Ginnivan would have thought hearing that. Myself? I couldn’t believe the hypocrisy.

Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

In the recent King’s Birthday clash, you belabored whether McCreery had touched the ball before it crossed the (goal) line.

Well, you’re right. He did touch it. With his foot. But you went on like it was a behind.

You highlighted that, when Nathan Murphy was brought down in a sling tackle, that he might have deliberately propelled his head into the ground to draw the free for a dangerous tackle – really, you think a guy with his concussion history would risk that? How often have you said this about other victims of sling tackles?

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These are just a handful of examples, but typical of your editorialising during Collingwood games. Anything questionable decision involving Collingwood always needs to be intensely scrutinised. It always needs to be pointed out that Collingwood have benefitted where they shouldn’t have, or that Collingwood has wronged.

You don’t do this with any other club.

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It was hilarious that after the Anzac Day clash there were complaints that you were showing bias in favour of Collingwood.

For years I’ve thought the exact opposite. Actually, let me strike that. It’s not just me.

Friends I regularly watch games with feel exactly the same. Reading a message board today, I saw others – people I’ve never met – commenting the same thing.

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One cheekily asked if you’d actually played for Collingwood. Another suggested you took proving you’re not biased for your former club to a ridiculous extreme.

I know there’ll be some condemnation from the typical critics about Collingwood imbecility or misinterpretation or paranoia or whatever. I don’t really care.

There’s enough evidence to prove otherwise. Enough other people are noticing the same thing.

The club still retains you to speak at events, although I’ve only ever been to one: the 1990 premiership reunion last year.

You’re a fantastic MC – affable, charming, and witty. You keep proceedings light-hearted and moving along. But after the event ended, you seemed churlish.

Nobody is asking you to be biased in favour of Collingwood in commentary, as some, I’m sure, may think. But so many of us are tired of what’s coming across as veiled resentment.

When younger supporters talk about you as a commentator, knowing you only for bombastic calling and seeming goofiness with Roaming Brian, I tell them you were a gun full-forward who was unfortunately leveled by troublesome knees.

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But it’s sad that whenever I listen to you commentate a Collingwood game that I can no longer look on those memories from the 1980s and 1990 with any fondness.

I’m sure others feel the same.

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