Thrilling matches, tense finals, huge marks and a series of unforgettable storylines made the 2019 AFL season one to remember.
The evenness of the AFL’s top bracket of sides was shown by the fact just one win separated Geelong, who finished first, and the fifth-placed West Coast, while Greater Western Sydney went from sixth to reach the grand final after a stunning September run.
It was Richmond who would ultimately win the premiership, their second in three years, Damien Hardwick’s side finishing the season full of momentum.
A new campaign brings fresh hope for all 18 clubs, though, and our 2019 season reviews take a look at what went right, what went wrong, each side’s best players and how every club can improve.
The next team in the spotlight is Collingwood.
- Ladder position: Fourth
- Eventual finish: Preliminary finalists
- Home and away win-loss ratio: 15-7
- Home and away percentage: 117.7
Collingwood Football Club AFL 2019 Season Performance Review
The beaten grand finalists of 2018 were less than a kick away from another appearance on the last Saturday in September. A seven-game winning streak from Round 4 to 10 had Magpies fans dreaming but they stuttered through late June and July, winning just one of five matches. A strong finish raised spirits as the ‘Pies scraped into the top four and a 10-point win over ladder-leaders Geelong in a qualifying final then set up a much-anticipated home preliminary final. Greater Western Sydney edged Nathan Buckley’s men in a thriller, though, Collingwood fans forced to deal with the all-too-familiar feeling of finals frustration.
Collingwood’s 62-point win at Brisbane in Round 5 continued to look better and better as the season went on, the Magpies setting up a huge victory with a seven-goal first quarter. Adam Treloar was typically prolific, with 35 disposals, while Brody Mihocek and Jordan De Goey impressed in the forward 50. Winning a final is always special, though, and the gritty nature of Collingwood’s win over the Cats in September was another joyous moment for the club’s huge fanbase.
Magpies fans were left with a feeling of what might have been after it took them a little over three quarters to click into gear in their four-point loss to Greater Western Sydney in their preliminary final. The ‘Pies were sloppy for much of the match and when GWS kicked the first goal of the last term, the visitors led by 33 points at the MCG. Collingwood had kicked just three goals up until that point, but surged home, booting four in a row to get within four points before the Giants withstood a late barrage of forward forays from the Magpies. A 44-point loss to North Melbourne in Round 15 was also particularly disappointing for Collingwood, who kicked just five goals in the match.
The best and fairest
Ruckman Brodie Grundy won his second Copeland Trophy in a row, the AFL’s best ruckman winning Collingwood’s highest honour in fairly comfortable fashion. Grundy shared the award with Steele Sidebottom in 2018 but finished 16 votes ahead of skipper Scott Pendlebury. Jack Crisp was third, while Treloar – the leading disposal winner in the AFL in 2019 – was forced to settle for fourth. Grundy remains un-signed beyond the 2020 season, but talk of a huge seven-year deal surfaced in November. Collingwood will be desperate to keep the star big man.
Ruckmen often struggle to poll votes in the Brownlow Medal but Grundy is a different case, his tap work, ball use and agile movement around the ground helping him to 23 votes in 2019 and a share of sixth place. Treloar’s ball-winning and line-breaking saw him poll 18 votes and finish equal 11th, while Pendlebury (14 votes, tied for 21st) was the only other Collingwood player to poll in double figures.
Grundy and Pendlebury flew the flag for the Magpies in the 22-man All-Australian team, Grundy edging out Melbourne’s Max Gawn for the starting ruck spot. Pendlebury slotted in on the bench, narrowly missing out on a midfield berth. Treloar was the only other Magpie picked in the 40-man squad, but he missed out on selection, perhaps due to queries on his ball use, despite his innate ability to find the football.
The goal kickers
No player in the top 35 goal kickers for 2019 played less games than Jordan De Goey, who booted 34 in 17 terrific matches that also saw him spend extended stints in the midfield. Buckley would dearly love De Goey to stay fit in 2020. Mihocek was Collingwood’s leading goal kicker, booting 36 in 24 matches, while Jamie Elliott added 26 and Jaidyn Stephenson contributed 24 in 14 matches. A spread of goal kickers is often a feature of Collingwood wins but a forward capable of kicking 50 goals or more would elevate Collingwood to the next level.
The reason to be hopeful
Collingwood’s luck with injuries was horrific in 2019 and surely things will improve on that front in the new season. A string of soft tissue injuries raised eyebrows among fans and at one point in late June, almost half of Collingwood’s list was missing due to injury of suspension. Better luck with injuries and the continued improvement of De Goey and Brayden Maynard will help, with Collingwood still blessed with one of the competition’s best midfields.