If history accounts for anything then Carlton is over the line Saturday. Blow the dust off the yellowing record books, and you’ll soon discover that the good guys have rained on Collingwood’s parade in each of the first, 25th, 50th, 75th and centenary year contests involving the old foes.
The first historic encounter at Victoria Park in the opening round of the VFA season (Saturday, May 7, 1892), resulted in a depleted Carlton outfit prevailing by 11 points over the team formerly known as Britannia. Incredibly, the visiting players were cheered onto the arena because the then Carlton secretary Jack Melville had paved the way for Collingwood’s inclusion in the competition and had pledged all gate takings to the new club given that Carlton, due to a fixturing quirk, was the designated home team on that occasion.
Twenty-five years later, Carlton and Collingwood thrice met - in the second, seventh and 12th rounds of the 1917 season. In a year in which the latter emerged with the ’17 premiership, the former took the points in both the first and last home-and-away contests – the first by 31 points at Princes Park with Billy Dick booting three goals; the last by 11 points at that same venue with Billy Dick putting another two over the goal umpire’s hat.
In between, Collingwood took line honours with a 37-point triumph at Victoria Park, on an afternoon in which Vin Gardiner kicked three goals for the visitors.
Fast forward to Round 11, Saturday, July 18, 1942, and the Blues again blew out the candles, this time on the black and whites’ sagging 50th birthday cake. In the one and only contest involving the two teams in that season, Carlton prevailed by 15 points at Victoria Park - 13.14 (92) to 11.11 (77), with Jack Wrout featuring with four goals from centre half-forward, the Indigenous player Cyril Mann slotting three from the pocket and Paul Schmidt a further three from full-forward.
Jim Knight turned out as rover for Carlton in that game, a few months after he had taken out Geelong’s best and fairest. After volunteering for active service with the RAAF and following Geelong’s wartime withdrawal from the VFL, Knight was persuaded by Carlton coach Perc Bentley to pull on the dark Navy Blue guernsey when military training didn’t intervene.
Within 15 months of that match, Flying Officer Jim Knight would be dead – killed in October 1943 when the bombs aboard his Douglas Boston bomber (A28-26) exploded after the aircraft crashed during take-off from Goodenough Island in Papua New Guinea.
In 1967, in what was the 75th year of Collingwood’s existence, the two teams twice met – in Round 6 at Princes Park and in Round 17 at the old Abbotsford ground.
The sixth-round match – Saturday, May 20, 1967 – resulted in a six-point victory to Ron Barassi’s Blues, with Alex Jesaulenko, in his first season, completing a four-goal haul. The 17th-round outcome left Collingwood 25 points in the black, although Carlton was a man down before half-time after the incredibly courageous Garry Crane suffered a fractured jaw.
The Centenary Match - Thursday, May 7, 1992 – was played under lights on the MCG, less than five days after Carlton had been thumped by Footscray at that very venue. Co-incidentally, Greg Williams completed his senior debut in that one – the first time the Blues and the Bulldogs had ever met on the paddock that grew.
83,262 supporters, amongst them Prime Minister Paul Keating, filed through the turnstiles and into the ‘G for that one, and the Seven Network summoned Michael Williamson, Lou Richards and the late Ted Whitten to call the game for old time’s sake.
Yet again, the boys from Princes Park played party poopers, emerging comfortable 33-point victors, 16.9 (105) to 9.18 (72). Carlton captain Stephen Kernahan led the way with a seven-goal return despite the best efforts of Michael Christian, Craig Starcevic and Gary Pert (the current Collingwood CEO), and Stephen Silvagni contributed four goals of his own up front.
In a sometimes spiteful affair, Adrian Gleeson (now a Carlton director) and Collingwood captain Tony Shaw were referred to the Tribunal on video reports – Gleeson subsequently copping two matches for forearming Collingwood’s feisty rover Tony Francis; Shaw incurring three for rearranging Ron De Iulio’s face.
Carlton’s sheer domination of Collingwood of course transcends the birthday games. Supporters will fondly recall the Millennium Match on the MCG (Friday, December 31, 1999), when Brendan Fevola, just two senior games into his career, slammed home a dozen, on a night in which the Carlton banner prophetically declared: “WE RUINED THE PIES’ CENTENARY NOW LET’S RUIN THEIR MILLENNIUM”.
Then there was The Last Suburban Battle in July 2000 at Princes Park when Carlton’s 111-point annihilation of the good old Collingwood came with the added bonus of former Collingwood footballer Trent Hotton booting five goals for the Blues.
And who could forget the inaugural match of the AFLW season in February, when Carlton captain Lauren Arnell led her Bluegirls onto the Carlton ground and into football immortality with a 35-point win over Collingwood in front of 24,500.
Ultimately, it’s all about the premierships though - and for those down Lulie Street way who might need a little reminding, Carlton and Collingwood have met in six grand finals, with Collingwood taking the pennant in 1910, and Carlton the next five – 1915, 1938, 1970, 1979 and 1981.