Daicos helps the Pies draw with the Roos
By: Glenn McFarlane
There were so many moments that live in the memory from the 1977 Grand Final: the absence of Phil Carman due to his suspension from the second semi-final; Collingwood’s remarkable rise from last in 1976 to being the minor premier; the first pre-game entertainment for a Grand Final; the Magpies’ 27-point lead at three quarter-time; North Melbourne’s early inaccuracy and stunning fight back in the last term; all culminating in Ross “Twiggy” Dunne’s famous pack mark and torpedo goal from close range which levelled the scores on 76 each – Collingwood 10.16 (76) to North Melbourne 9.22 (76).
The other draw played out between the two teams came 11 years later, and none of the players who been out there for the first draw were out there for the second.
The Round 17 clash in 1988 is recalled with less clarity and less colour than the 1977 draw. Contrasting occasions and conditions; the same result, if you like, though there were a few similarities between the two games.
In 1977 it was the Magpies who had led by 27 points at three quarter-time before the Kangaroos stormed home with five goals to one in the final term. In 1988, it was North who led by 25 at the last change before Collingwood managed five goals to one in the last quarter.
Played out on a wet and windy winter’s afternoon at Victoria Park, the match between Leigh Matthews’ Magpies and John Kennedy’s Kangaroos was witnessed by 16,082 hardy souls -more than 90,000 fewer than those who attended the previous draw between the two sides.
And instead of Barry Crocker singing “The Impossible Dream” to a stadium full of people as he did in 1977, the only pre-game entertainment before the Collingwood-North Melbourne clash in 1988 was a bit of old-fashioned reserves watching. There was plenty to see, too, with three ruckmen – David Cloke, who had been dropped a few days earlier, 1986 Copeland Trophy winner Wes Fellowes and a developing kid with plenty of talent called Damian Monkhorst – attracting a fair bit of attention in the “twos”.
Matthews had dropped Cloke (as well as Tony Elshaug and Paul Tuddenham) after the club suffered bad losses to Fitzroy and Melbourne in successive weeks – leaving James Manson as the sole ruckman against the Kangaroos. A week earlier, he had dumped full-forward Brian Taylor, only to recall him for the game against North Melbourne.
In fairness to Taylor, retired Hawthorn great and newspaper columnist Don Scott wrote at the time: “I’d have hated to be full-forward at Collingwood this season with the time it has taken to deliver the ball and the poor manner in which it has done (so).”
But clearly the pressure was on the Pies heading into this Round 17 game. Two weeks earlier Fitzroy had beaten Collingwood by an almost inconceivable 90 points; the previous week it was a 46-point loss to Melbourne.
That loss to the second placed Demons brought out plenty of criticism for a team that sat fourth on the ladder, but was looking more than a little susceptible.
Former captain Des Tuddenham said after the Melbourne loss that he was “ashamed” by the effort. He added: “The double chance was at stake, but what happened? They wimp it.”
Eleven minutes into the first quarter of the game against North Melbourne, Collingwood looked even more vulnerable.
The scoreboard at the Yarra Falls end told a sorry tale – crediting the Kangaroos with 4.2 (26) while the operators had so far failed to post a score for the home side.
The first three goals came from Peter German after an “inspirational” start for the visitors with a strong breeze.
It looked like it wasn’t going to turn out to be much of a 28th birthday for Collingwood’s captain, Tony Shaw, who was playing his 199th game in black and white.
As busy as Shaw was on the field, the Magpies were finding it very hard to get on the scoreboard. Only two goals came in the first term to North’s six, but by 17 minutes into the second term, and with some fine work from Taylor in front of goal, the scores were back to level.
However, the Kangaroos kept coming and regained the lead soon after, taking the margin to 18 points by the time the two Little League teams came out to play.
Taylor had redeemed himself with a brilliant first half, keeping the Magpies in the contest with five goals heading to the main break
He had “outbustled” young defender Mick Martyn, who was one of five teenagers on the ground that day. The others were: Collingwood’s Gavin Crosisca and North Melbourne’s John Longmire, Brenton Harris and Dean McRae.
The Sun’s chief football reporter Peter Simunovich wrote: “By half-time North Melbourne had re-asserted its superiority with two goals to Longmire (in only his sixth game) and another to the brilliant German.”
Simunovich added: “But in the third quarter the wind dropped and with it appeared to come an increased propensity by both sides to increase their already-high number of mistakes.” Still, Collingwood made more than North Melbourne, and two of them – “critical errors” – threatened to cost the Magpies dearly.
The first came when Mick McGuane, in his 19th game, “paddled” the ball over the boundary line deep in defence. The umpire deemed it to be deliberate and the resulting free kick to 20-year-old Alastair Clarkson was slotted through on an acute angle.
Not long after, Magpie Matthew Ryan grabbed the ball and ran too far as he was trying to extricate himself from the crowded backline. The free kick to Matthew Larkin ended in a goal, and the margin was out to 25 points at three-quarter-time.
Seemingly, the game was looking beyond the home side. The only thing in Collingwood’s favour was that it was coming home to the scoring end and that North Melbourne had not taken advantage of all of its opportunities. The Roos had 24 scoring shots to the Magpies’ 14, leaving the door slightly ajar as the parochial home crowd tried to urge their heroes on to stage a revival.
The Collingwood comeback started in the middle of the ground – with Manson starting to assert his authority, “rucking his heart out in the last quarter.” Jamie Turner was playing his best game to date, Darren Millane was strong on the wing, Taylor was dangerous in attack and Doug Barwick finished up with two goals, including one in the last term that came about after a 50m penalty that must have infuriated Kennedy in the opposition coaches’ box on the outer side of the ground.
Unusually, Peter Daicos had been reasonably held through, but when the difference was back to a point in the visitors’ favour late in the game, he stepped forward for one of the most important moments of the match.
Speaking about it this week, Daicos’ memories of the game are two-fold. “It was just one of those really wet and muddy days at Vic Park, that’s the thing that I recall about that game,” he said.
“I remember we were a point down and we were kicking to the Yarra (Falls) end. I got the ball deep on the boundary line on a tight angle and I just got my boot to ball. I think I went with a torpedo and just tried to drill it home. I kicked it really hard.”
For a moment, Daicos’ kick looked like conjuring one of the miracles that he had become renown for. The crowd looked on in nervous anticipation as the Sherrin spun towards goal, almost as if it was played out in slow-motion. At the last moment, it diverted towards the nearest goalpost, and slammed into the woodwork.
It was a behind; the point that would level the scores. “I thought it was home for a few seconds, but it ended up hitting the post,” Daicos said.
Daicos’ behind squared the scores – Collingwood 14.8 (92) to North Melbourne 13.14 (92).
Not all that many minutes later, and with no addition to the score, the timekeepers reached over and pushed the final siren. It was over.
In the confusion, leading ABC commentator Graham ‘Smokey’ Dawson told listeners not long after the end of the game: “And now we’ll go down to St Kilda for details of the closest match of the day.” It wasn’t. Collingwood and North Melbourne had staged a draw. At Moorabbin, Sydney had beaten St Kilda by seven points.
As darkness descended over the ground, up in the social club, Brian Taylor was being presented with an award for Collingwood’s best player after kicking seven goals. Taylor said: “In terms of goals, it was my best match for awhile, but I think I’ve been doing a lot of other work which people don’t notice.”
His teammates toasted their captain, Tony Shaw, on his birthday and looked ahead to his 200th game the following week.
And as disappointed as Magpie fans were as they lingered around for a chat, before streaming out of the ground and heading out across the footbridge, with many of them heading to the Victoria Park train platform, they knew that Collingwood had fought exceptionally hard to come back.
They also knew that a draw, as tough as it was to deal with, was better than a loss. And this time there was no need for a replay.