What a rollercoaster of a season 2017 was for Collingwood and it’s army of followers. For a side that won only nine games and finished 13th they were very rarely blown out and recorded victories over Sydney, Geelong and West Coast, drew with Adelaide and went the distance with GWS. On the flip side there were losses to lower ranked sides and the seemingly never ending speculation over the Coaching position.
A defeat to arch rivals Carlton in Round 7, followed by a heart-breaking result against the Giants the following week saw Collingwood slip to a 2 & 6 start to the season. With these defeats realistic hopes of a return to September ended and an almost never ending speculation over the future of Coach Nathan Buckley commenced. The club will hope that some measures they have taken in response to an end of season review will put an end this speculation but not everyone is convinced. “They’ve given him (Buckley) a 2 year extension,” Dan from The Sportress told The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav, “which seems just long enough that early losses next year will again ensure that he is the story once again”.
Asked to nominate a player as Collingwood’s Best and Fairest winner in 2017, Dan from The Sportress suggested a few names, “Steele Sidebottom, Adam Treloar, Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams, Heath Grundy, Jeremy Howe all had pretty good seasons”. The problem for Collingwood as Dan explained it, is that beyond these few the same couldn’t be said of too many others. Jeremy Howe, the man Dan ultimately chose as the Pies best in 2017, shared a similar view after Collingwood’s defeat to St Kilda. “They might perform for two quarters and then die out of the game,” Howe told AAP, “We’ve got too many blokes like that at the moment and it’s costing us.”
The same charge could not be levelled at Howe who was a consistent driving force for Collingwood from the Half Back line all season. Equal seventh for contested marks in 2017, his form was recognised with selection in the extended 40-man All-Australian Squad for the season. While he ultimately missed selection in the final 22, he announced himself as one of the competition’s elite players and may well console himself with both the Mark of the Year and Copeland Trophy as Collingwood’s Best and Fairest.
The highpoint of Collingwood’s season perhaps came when things looked their bleakest. Having slipped to 2 & 6, the Pies found themselves 43-points down against Hawthorn and a season of woe looked set to sink even lower. Despite a 50-possesion game from Hawk Tom Mitchell, Collingwood worked their way back into the contest on the back of a dominant Scott Pendlebury performance and Darcy Moore providing a prominent target up forward. A massive third quarter from Taylor Adams helped Collingwood draw level at three-quarter-time before they went on with the job in the last quarter to record a remarkable 18-point victory.
A fourth consecutive finals-less season will not have pleased anybody in or around the Collingwood Football Club. Despite this, a case could be mounted that things are headed in the right direction for the Magpies. Like most young teams they were plagued by inconsistency throughout the season but if they can reproduce their late season form on regular basis 2018 could see a return to September.
Check out The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav Podcast where the boys looked ahead to the finals and passed judgement on the Magpies and all the teams that have already begun planning for 2018.