I know. It’s Carlton v Collingwood, footy’s fiercest rivalry, an enmity as old as Melbourne’s urban layout. So why am I not excited? Because, simply put, Carlton vs Collingwood doesn’t matter, at least not the way it used to.
At best, the four points will be a minor factor in determining the composition of the bottom half of the final eight. At worst? Best not to think about that. In fairness, Collingwood might be able to hold onto a top-four spot, but I doubt even Joffa believes that they’re genuinely in the mix for the flag this year.
Myths are not forged in lopsided contests. A rivalry can only lean on tradition for so long, and the greatest rivalries are borne of the highest stakes. Matches between Hawthorn and Geelong tend to be narrative-shaping events, while West Coast and Sydney’s clashes in the mid-2000s were compulsory viewing, as tight and as hard-fought as the original rivalry between matter and anti-matter.
Ultimately, when there isn’t much to play for, these rivalries will fade: anti-matter hasn’t mounted a legitimate challenge to matter’s hegemony for billions of years. Similarly, Carlton and Collingwood haven’t met in the finals since 1988, and they haven’t both been genuine flag contenders at the same time since the early ‘80s. It’s a VFL rivalry that hasn’t really found its place since the advent of the national competition.
Try telling that to fans of the two clubs, though. Interestingly, these clashes can mean more to fans when their teams are well out of contention: with nothing else to play for, these tribal bragging rights take on greater significance. Make no mistake, though: for the majority of footy fans, this is no more than a suburban rivalry.
That’s not to say that the game won’t throw up some interesting stories. Firstly, it won’t be the Collingwood walkover that appeared probable as recently as last week.
B:Simon White,Michael Jamison,Sam Rowe
HB:Zach Tuohy,Andrew Walker,Kade Simpson
C:Heath Scotland,Andrew Carrazzo,Mitch Robinson
HF:Brock McLean,Jarrad Waite,Dale Thomas
F:Troy Menzel,Lachie Henderson,Levi Casboult
Fol:Robert Warnock,Marc Murphy,Bryce Gibbs
I/C:Andrejs Everitt,Dylan Buckley,Kane Lucas,Jeff Garlett
Emg:Matthew Watson,Tom Bell,Sam Docherty
B:Nick Maxwell,Jack Frost,Marley Williams
HB:Clinton Young,Lachlan Keeffe,Heritier Lumumba
C:Steele Sidebottom,Brent Macaffer,Dane Swan
HF:Sam Dwyer,Jesse White,Luke Ball
F:Jamie Elliott,Travis Cloke,Tyson Goldsack
Fol:Brodie Grundy,Dayne Beams,Scott Pendlebury
I/C:Jarryd Blair,Tom Langdon,Jarrod Witts,Josh Thomas
Emg:Nathan Brown,Taylor Adams,Ben Kennedy
Out:AlexFasolo (Toe),AlanToovey (Hamstring)