It’s never Collingwood’s fault that they ultimately aren’t good enough.

I’m so tired of hearing about the Matthew Nicholls saga and, honestly, I’m so tired of hearing about it from Collingwood fans.

So let’s set the stage: Collingwood are 19 points ahead of Walyalup with just seven minutes remaining. A group forms twenty meters from the Walyalup goal. Referee Nicholls blows his whistle to call for a ball.

Collingwood’s Lachie Sullivan gets up and instead of giving the ball back to the referee (who is behind him), Sullivan passes it to Nick Daicos who then passes it to Nicholls.

Nicholls pings Sullivan for wasting time and gives Walyalup ruckman Sean Darcy a free-kick.

Darcy goal, reducing the margin to 13 points. Walyalup has all the momentum and proceeds to attack relentlessly.

The game results in a tie.

So the AFL has since made the decision. Now there is a shock.

The AFL would have pointed out that the shortage of lifeboats on the Titanic was within standard regulations, rather than admitting it was a serious miscalculation.

But we have had people cite situations from other games where the ball was not returned directly to the referee and yet the offender was not penalized.

Jonathon Brown has said that in the Walyalup-Collingwood game there were thirteen other instances where the ball was not returned directly to the referee.

It has been inferred that Nicholls was angry because just earlier Steele Sidebottom had not returned the ball, which upset Nicholls to the point that, like a poorly written Marvel villain, he decided to get revenge.

Caroline Wilson has suggested that referees have become frustrated with Collingwood forcing stoppage after stoppage in close games; and former referee Dean Margetts has said that while the decision was technically correct, it was not in the spirit of the game and he would not have paid for it.

I just don’t care.

Here are some other realities from that game: Collingwood’s Lachie Schultz could have been the hero against his former team, smashing a sealer that would have put Collingwood five goals up, but instead he missed a sitter.

As well as Billy Frampton missing a relatively easy shot, Bobby Hill failing to force a stop, Brayden Maynard losing the ball to the midfielder, Heath Chapman effectively being allowed to take an undisputed mark deep on the wing and repel Collingwood’s attempt to get out of defense – well, there are many more such cases.

So here’s our pick: we can blame Nicholls for the draw, although his decision only reduced the margin from 19 to 13 points (rather than giving Walyalup the lead). Or we can look at the things Collingwood did wrong, which allowed them to seal the game, not thwart Walyalup’s momentum and not bury the match with inexorable stoppages.

Sure, Collingwood had injuries and a depleted bench. Sure, they had a lot of inexperienced players. Sure, it was a valiant effort.

But by placing the blame solely on Nicholls, it absolves Collingwood of any responsibility for letting the game slip away and ignores that Collingwood let a 25-point margin slip away with just seven minutes remaining.

Here’s another thing: while Collingwood established themselves as the clutch kings in 2022 – 2023, they’ve actually struggled this year.

They almost let a brave Hawthorn invade them in Gather Round; They decided to try and protect a one-point lead against Essendon on Anzac Day with a good chunk of the final quarter remaining.

Adelaide swept them just two weeks ago, falling woefully short and now Walyalup has pulled off an improbable comeback.

In the Hawthorn, Essendon and Walyalip games, players had opportunities, if not chances, to snatch the lead from the Pies.

Against Adelaide, Izak Rankine embarked on his blistering run down the wing, driving the Crows deep into their F50, only for the ball to be claimed when Rankine was penalized for running too far.

Point? Is Collingwood still the clutch king? Because last year, when the games were close, he trusted that the Pies would quell the contest with the siren.

Four times this year, they were outplayed, looked extremely vulnerable, and were lucky not to lose any of those games.

But let’s blame Matthew Nicholls and his officiating. Let’s take it up there with Wayne Harmes putting the ball back into play, resulting in a goal from Ken Sheldon, in the 1979 grand final.

Let us sing this lament inexorably and lament our misfortune and the persecution against Collingwood.

It’s never Collingwood’s fault that they ultimately weren’t good enough. It’s…*insert any of the reasons above*.

Geez, Collingwood didn’t win and nothing will change that, can we just let it go?

Port Adelaide Power


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AFL: Head to head

Thursday, May 30, 2024, 7:30 p.m.

Collingwood Magpies


western bulldogs


AFL: Head to head

Friday, May 31, 2024, 7:40 p.m.

Hawthorn Hawks


Adelaide Ravens


AFL: Head to head

Saturday, June 1, 2024, 1:45 p.m.

West Coast Eagles


St Kilda Saints


AFL: Head to head

Saturday, June 1, 2024, 16:35

Geelong Cats


Richmond Tigers


AFL: Head to head

Saturday, June 1, 2024, 7:30 p.m.

Melbourne Demons


Fremantle docklands


AFL: Head to head

Sunday, June 2, 2024, 1:00 p.m.

Suns of the Costa Dorada


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AFL: Head to head

Sunday, June 2, 2024, 4:00 p.m.

* Odds are correct at time of publication. Check the PlayUp website for the latest odds

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