Well, well, well, what can we say about Collingwood’s year?
Beginning with a new coach, Craig McRae made an immediate impact, while highly touted father-son gun Nick Daicos was also an exciting prospect.
Despite the year ending in heartbreak as the Pies went down to Sydney by one point in the preliminary final, the season had so many positives that left fans and supporters enthusiastic for years to come.
Finishing a lowly 17th position in 2021, McRae and his coaching panel set out to drastically change the way the black-and-white side would play, ultimately being awarded with the coach of the year.
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) September 20, 2022
Under Nathan Buckley, Collingwood always posed as a great defensive side, with the other end generally troubled at times.
From round one against St Kilda, the Pies presented a game style that was reminiscent of Richmond in 2017 – high pressure, forward handballs and gaining territory – to which it had worked.
Recruit Pat Lipinski made an immediate impact, being awarded with the three votes and starting his time at the AIA Centre in a fast manner.
Knocking off the Saints and opening their season strongly, the following week against Adelaide was a similar result.
However, a match up with eventual premiers Geelong proved to be too much for the young Pies, despite leading by 37 points at one stage and leading by five goals at the final change.
The loss to the Cats sparked a dip in form for McRae’s men, losing consecutive games to West Coast and Brisbane by less than 14 points.
Nick Daicos registered his first three-vote game (first of many) in the loss to the Eagles and was quickly displaying his talent.
Nick Daicos, equal highest Brownlow votes for Collingwood in his debut season 👏 pic.twitter.com/GCn5DgrzoM
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) September 18, 2022
Entering the round six Anzac Day clash against Essendon was a do-or-die match, which essentially set Collingwood on an upwards trajectory.
The black-and-white managed to prevail in thrilling fashion, all thanks to their incredible accuracy, reflected by their 15 goals and three behinds.
Gold Coast were the next victim at the MCG in round seven, as the Pies were able to get on top of the win/loss ledger.
However, a fortnight of bad football at the hands of Richmond and Western Bulldogs had Collingwood drop to 11th on the ladder with fear creeping in that the club may miss finals again.
Something happened from then on that ultimately changed the course of the season.
Travelling to Optus Stadium to take on Fremantle, the Dockers were set to make an even bigger push for top four, putting some distance between the rest of the pack.
This would not come into fruition, as the Pies did not take a backwards step and surprising most with a 36-point victory.
Carlton was the next victim of Collingwood’s but with plenty of drama.
The round 11 clash was the second close win of the Pies, but this time was under a goal (a feat that would recur plenty of times).
The Blues would fall by four points as Collingwood claimed bragging rights.
Round 12 was an exact repeat, with the club holding off Hawthorn by four points on a miserable Sunday afternoon, with Ollie Henry stepping up again to help lead the Pies to victory.
Just before the mid-season bye, Collingwood faced ladder leaders Melbourne, who were on a two-game losing streak after winning the opening 10 games.
In what was an arm wrestle, the Dees got out to a 22-point lead in the second quarter.
However, a nine goal to three second half flipped that margin in favour of the Pies, as they rolled into the break with four straight victories.
At this point, McRae’s men started to believe that finals was on the agenda, especially since they were a game clear inside the eight.
The next seven rounds was something Collingwood fans never expected to see.
Although coming up against GWS, Gold Coast, North Melbourne and Adelaide (all tipped to win), the Pies added to the fairytale, winning all those by a combined margin of 28 points (average of seven).
Essendon, Port Adelaide and Melbourne also fell to the Collingwood train, with no win over seven points which put the Pies second on the ladder and a game clear from third.
As did most games throughout the streak, the Bombers game ended in dramatic fashion with the game changing leads multiple times.
In one of the best games of the year, the Pies led by 37 points late in the first term.
To Essendon’s credit, they stormed back into the contest and looked like causing an upset, extending their margin to 21 points 10 minutes into the final quarter.
As Collingwood had done in weeks prior, they continued to take the game on, going through the corridor and giving themselves a chance to get back into the contest.
Jamie Elliot etched his name into history, slotting a goal after the siren from the boundary to break the hearts of Bombers fans.
A fortnight later, the Demons faced a raging Pies outfit again on a Friday night, to which all viewers were not disappointed.
Despite Melbourne leading for majority of the match, Collingwood’s tremendous accuracy in front of goal kept them in the frame and was the deciding factor in the end.
Elliot and Ash Johnson both slotted four, helping the Pies to another famous victory.
THE STREAK HITS 11!!
And Collingwood are in the top two 😱
✍️ MATCH REPORT: https://t.co/aQw9jgzYDl
🔢 MATCH CENTRE: https://t.co/SL4DjGm1Iz pic.twitter.com/75gI3H5ENY
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) August 5, 2022
McRae’s men had entered rare territory, becoming the second Collingwood side who won 11 games in a row in the past 57 years.
The Pies 11-win streak also boasted the smallest cumulative margin (115 points) in V/AFL history, with seven of those wins less than two goals.
With top two on the line, a clash with Sydney at the SCG wasn’t an easy feat and was ultimately the end of the impressive sequence, going down by 27 points.
Following that loss, the Pies dropped out of the top four (by percentage) which set up a round 23 epic with arch rivals Carlton, who needed to win to play finals for the first time since 2013.
McRae’s men started in hot fashion, kicking the only three goals in the opening term.
The Blues were able to wrestle some momentum back and were trailing by 19 points at the main change.
An onslaught from Carlton resulted in an eight-goal premiership quarter, which saw the Blues lead by 24 points and inching closer to a finals berth.
Expecting a comeback, Charlie Curnow and Corey Durdin could’ve put the margin beyond doubt, but missed very gettable shots on goal.
Enter Mason Cox, Beau McCreery, Johnson and Elliot, who all put majors through, stealing the lead and the win at the death.
SEN caller and journalist Gerard Whateley referred to Collingwood as the “grim reaper” who had defied the odds and claimed fourth spot in the process.
“Collingwood have closed like the grim reaper.” 💀
Relive @GerardWhateley‘s call of the Magpies’ dramatic win over Carlton.
— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) August 24, 2022
McRae led the Pies from 17th to fourth position and gave themselves a real chance of premiership glory, adding to the fairytale that was the 2022 season.
Daicos (Nick) was awarded as a unanimous winner of the Rising Star, while spiritual captain Brayden Maynard received his maiden All-Australian jacket.
Opening their finals series with a clash against Geelong, a packed MCG took place on the Saturday afternoon, with over 90,000 people there to witness history.
As Collingwood did in their round three clash, the Pies jumped out of the gates and led by 14 points at the first break.
The margin was stripped back down to one point at the main change and then extended to seven heading into the final quarter, setting up an epic finish.
At this point, punters had their money on Collingwood, who proved to win the tight ones throughout the season.
Jordan De Goey, who was the Pies’ player of the finals series, put two goals in the final quarter to give belief of knocking off the minor premiers.
However, a determined Gary Rohan – who wanted to defy finals doubters – launched a goal from outside 50 to regain the lead late in the game.
A Jack Crisp behind meant that scores were level with two minutes remaining, before a surge forward from the Cats, resulting in a Max Holmes goal broke the hearts of Pies fans.
Losing a close game was foreign too Collingwood but still had a second chance.
Fremantle at the MCG was an easy beat, with the 20-point margin not reflective of how the game was played.
A four-goal opening quarter to none set the tone and the Pies never looked back, instead looked forward to the task of the Swans at the SCG.
With a spot in the grand final up for grabs, there was plenty to play for.
Sydney’s desire was on show, leading by five goals at half time and extended that to 36 points early in the third quarter.
With the game all but sewn up, McRae threw caution to the wind and attempting to break the game open.
At the final change, the Pies managed to get it down to 23 points, one less than their round 23 victory against Carlton at the same point of the game.
Belief has never wavered in the black-and-white camp and it showed in the final term.
Collingwood gave everything and reduced the deficit to 14 points before a controversial non-call was made, awarding Tom Papley a mark in front of goal, to which he converted.
Top story: AFL grand final: Controversial Tom Papley free kick in Collingwood Magpies v Sydney Swans epic preliminary final | 7NEWS https://t.co/NZ5Edyqv4w, see more https://t.co/rL4pq4Idlz
— Samy Angel (@SamyAngel4o) September 17, 2022
However, to the Pies’ credit, they slotted three quick ones and the game was well and truly alive, with three minutes to go and less than a goal in it.
The ball lived at Collingwood’s end and looked like they were going to pull off the impossible.
Two rushed behinds were the final scores of the match, but still saw Sydney in front when the siren went, with the Pies losing by the smallest margin.
After a season of close wins, Collingwood unfortunately couldn’t get the job done, with their two finals losses six points or less.
Nick Daicos leads the charge for Collingwood’s future, reflected by his Rising Star Winner status and equal-highest Brownlow polling alongside Jack Crisp.
Jack Ginnivan – who was subject to scrutiny – kicked 40 goals for this season, which can be compared to All-Australians Tyson Stengle (53) and Charlie Cameron (54).
Josh Daicos – older brother of Nick – was included in the AA squad of 40 and continues to impress as the years go on.
McCreery is a high-pressure forward who has the potential to go into the midfield and is highly liked by the coaching staff.
Isaac Quaynor is quickly becoming one of the best small defenders in the game.
Lipinski – who joined the Pies at the start of 2022 – is only 23 years old and will turn into a strong midfielder, becoming a successor of Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom.
Johnson (24), John Noble (25), Maynard (25), De Goey (26) and Darcy Moore (26) all have plenty of good football in front of them.
When McRae signed with Collingwood at the end of 2021, he came in with a new direction of the club, which gave the forwards an opportunity to score.
The Pies quickly adopted a game style which created attacking movement while also giving their forwards space.
Based on pressure, McRae’s men were persistent on rolling up, hemming their opponents to certain areas of the ground on forcing turnovers.
This type of strategy revolves around Collingwood’s ability to show up on the day and commit to the style.
Only on occasions did this way of game play fail, including round 22 against Sydney, but for the most part, worked.
Watching Geelong win the 2022 AFL premiership, Pies fans sit there thinking that could’ve been them.
As close as they got, Collingwood just couldn’t do the impossible in weeks one and three of the finals.
Against the Cats in the qualifying final, McRae’s men had their chances but ultimately found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
A fortnight later, the Pies trailed by six goals before storming back into the contest.
But as they say, it was too little, too late for Collingwood who lost in heartbreaking fashion, going down by one solitary point.
De Goey off-field antics
Jordan De Goey’s off field antics reared its ugly head once again, following a trip to Bali in the mid-season break.
Amid contract speculation of the restricted free agent with St Kilda looming as a potential suitor, De Goey found himself in hot water.
Forced to apologise for his actions involving women in a club in the destination location, the Collingwood midfielder had a contract pulled by the club, fuelling more speculation for his playing future.
With his signature still up for grabs, the Pies have tabled an offer to their star player but is yet to sign.
Grundy’s imminent departure
Brodie Grundy signed a lucrative seven-year deal worth around one million dollars a season, beginning at the start of 2020.
Collingwood signed their ruckman after back-to-back All-Australians but he has failed to replicate those seasons since.
The emergence of Darcy Cameron and form of Mason Cox started to create questions around Grundy’s future at the club, especially since he went down in round six with a PCL injury, eventually ruling him out for the entire season.
Reports have suggested that the Pies are keen to offload his massive contract to ease some of the salary space, alike the Adam Trelaor trade at the end of 2020.
Melbourne have stormed through as favourites, especially since Luke Jackson will depart, with a Grundy-Max Gawn combo on the cards.
What do Collingwood need?
Key forward and another midfielder.
The imminent arrival of Daniel McStay should offer some reprieve to Brody Mihocek and Mason Cox up forward, seeing at times they’d get beaten by the best defences.
Although McStay hasn’t kicked more than 28 goals in a season, who can compete in the air, which is the hope of Collingwood in 2023 and beyond.
Another aspect of the Pies’ game they need to improve is their contested ball work around stoppages.
As Taylor Adams was absent at times throughout the year, McRae’s men were found out around the contest and were subject to plenty of scores from stoppage, ranking 13th in the league for clearances (35.1 per game).
Pendlebury and Sidebottom are also nearing retirement and need successors to carry the club forward for the next 10 years.
Players linked to the club
Collingwood seem to be one of the busiest clubs in this year’s AFL Trade Period, with a lot of names linked to the club.
Daniel McStay has informed Brisbane of his intention to return to Victoria, with the Pies bound to sign him as a free agent.
Ian ‘Bobby’ Hill for the second year running is looking to leave GWS, with Collingwood likely to secure the small forward, adding another dynamic to the growing forward line.
Brayden Fiorini from Gold Coast is seeking more opportunities, playing a fair chunk of games in the VFL in 2022, with the Pies keen to add to the midfield.
Billy Frampton is also keen to join a third AFL club, leaving Adelaide in hope of adding more games to his career.
Tom Mitchell is another name that his been linked to the Pies, with Hawthorn keen to offload some of his contract to another club, which may be a win-win for both sides.
Out of contract Players
|Jordan De Goey||Restricted Free Agent|
Retirees and Delistings