It’s the 20-year anniversary of a game not remembered fondly by Collingwood fans and players alike. But according to those involved, the club will atone for it this week.
By the end of 2003, the Magpies had risen from arguably the club’s darkest days – including when they claimed their second ever wooden spoon as part of a finals drought from 1995 to 2001 – to play in back-to-back grand finals.
But they had no silverware to show for it after consecutive losses to the powerhouse Brisbane Lions on that final Saturday in September in a pair of iconic deciders.
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Some say that Collingwood side peaked at the wrong time in AFL history given it came during a golden era for the star-studded Lions, who won three-straight flags and lost another grand final that denied them a four-peat. Others think then Magpies coach Mick Malthouse squeezed every bit out of a side that wasn’t necessarily supremely talented.
What’s more, both Collingwood’s 2002 and 2003 lists ranked among the least experienced in the AFL in those respective seasons, but had great leaders at the top with the likes of Nathan Buckley, Scott Burns, Anthony Rocca, James Clement and Paul Licuria.
An intriguing element is that, in 2002, the Pies got considerably closer in a year they came from the clouds. Finishing fourth and snapping an eight-year finals drought, Collingwood in the post-season stunned minor premier Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, then convincingly beat the Crows en route to its first grand final since 1990, only to narrowly fall to Brisbane by nine points.
Then in 2003, the second-placed and more hardened Magpies – albeit less experienced around the edges – went into the rematch as favourites after they’d earlier in the finals series defeated Brisbane, and for a second-straight year, also beaten minor premier Port – this time by 44 points – to qualify for the decider with added momentum.
But Malthouse’s side got blown off the park by the Lions in a 50-point whitewash – a game star forward Anthony Rocca infamously missed due to a suspension from the previous week – in a more comprehensive repeat of what took place the previous year.
It’s therefore poetic that Collingwood and Brisbane play off yet again in a grand final 20 years on while both clubs are flourishing afresh.
And all 14 members from that 2003 Magpies side contacted by Foxfooty.com.au this weektipped their former club to get one back on the Lions, whose dynasty team ironically included current Collingwood coach Craig McRae and senior assistant Justin Leppitsch.
Seven of them have backed Jordan De Goey to continue where he left off from last week’s dominant preliminary performance over GWS and take out the Norm Smith Medal.
Twenty years on, here are the reflections from 14 members from Collingwood’s 2003 Grand Final team, plus an update on where they are now and full predictions for Saturday’s third decider between the clubs this century.
Starting with the captain and coach, then working up in jumper number order …
5. NATHAN BUCKLEY (captain)
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “We’d beaten Brisbane in the qualifying final three weeks earlier, so we were relatively confident going in. We’d performed well on that stage and had qualified well against Port Adelaide the week before.
“So beating the top two sides of the year – and we were thereabouts as a top four side – we were relatively confident that we were well placed to be able to get the job done. But what became abundantly apparent is that we just didn’t turn up in as good a shape as we could’ve. If I reflect on it, I think half of the group were overconfident and the other half were overawed. They came at us hard with a physical element and we didn’t stand up in the early stages of the game.”
Now: “Working in the media for Fox Footy and SEN, which I’m really enjoying.”
Favourite current player: “I’ll go with Steele (Sidebottom), he was my original favourite. Connection is really important, and as a forwards coach in 2010, he’s the first guy I felt like I was really able to connect with and help along his journey. Anyone who’s a teacher or a mentor of sorts, that connection is really important – you need to feel like you’re of service and of value. Steele and I developed that rapport really quickly. To have seen him continue through his career and achieved what he’s achieved. I also loved the youthful exuberance and sheer joy he brought to football. That was in contrast to how I went about my footy at the same age. I sort of look on with admiration that he started like that and has been able to maintain it for the entirety of his career.”
Tip: “Collingwood by 10. I think the Pies will be able to ratchet up the pressure to a level that will have the game on their terms for long enough to be able to have the scoreboard look favourable for them.”
Norm Smith Medal: “I’ll go ‘Crispy’ (Jack Crisp), it reckon it’ll be out of him or Nick Daicos. I think Jack’s back in form, he’s been settled as either a midfielder or a half back. Since he’s been more settled, I think he’s popped again. His run will be crucial, when everyone else starts slowing down or the intensity starts getting a bit too much for some, he just goes to another level. He’ll be significant and his second half will be better than his first.”
MICK MALTHOUSE (coach)
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “I’ve often said I think that Brisbane side is the best I’ve seen, they had six All-Australians (including from 2002) and ended up with three Brownlow medallists.
“They had a good salary cap advantage, but you’ve still got to win, and they were the best side, without a doubt. The sheer volume of talent, we knew we were a bit short and a pretty young side. We had some good players and some players who battled, but gave their all.
“We were also handicapped by (the suspension of) Anthony Rocca, which was a travesty, absolutely no way known he should’ve been rubbed out.
“It was really left to a good leadership group to battle their hearts out and see if they could drag as many other players over the line.”
Now: “Chasing 10 grandchildren around! The youngest ones aren’t in sport yet, but the elder ones certainly are. I also do a little bit of ABC commentary and some writing in the Herald Sun. I’m just basically doing what I enjoy now, I’ve just come from watching my granddaughter in the national championships in basketball.”
Favourite current player: “I still enjoy watching Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom go round, they’re the reminiscence of that 2010 and 2011 side. They’ve been outstanding players for Collingwood for so long, I can’t go past them. I really like Taylor Adams and Brayden Maynard, too.”
Tip: “Collingwood narrowly. I don’t think it’ll be a big victory. They’ve only fallen over the line against really good opposition in Melbourne and GWS. But I think Brisbane will be a very, very hard side to beat.”
Norm Smith Medal: “If De Goey gets up and running, he’ll be hard to stop.”
1. LEON DAVIS
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “Going back a while now! Brisbane was a great side and showed that, three-peat and all. We just came up against a quality opposition and one of the strongest teams ever put together. To go down to them was obviously hard to take and still is.
“But you look at the team they had, they would go close to beating any team you could assemble, they were that good. Unfortunately we came up against them and couldn’t get over the line, so full credit to them.”
Now: “Back at Collingwood, I work there full-time. Doing some stuff around the Do Better report and the findings around that. I’m trying to put a cultural lens on everything within the football club and assisting in all things cultural. We’ve put in a cultural room with a lot of cultural knowledge, it’s very exciting. Just putting things in place to ensure the environment is a good one where Indigenous and First Nations players can come there, feel safe and feel like it’s a home for them where they can be themselves and live their cultural responsibilities as well as their football.”
Favourite current player: “Bobby Hill is a nephew of mine, so I’m pretty biased on that one! Otherwise, you can’t go past De Goey, he’s easily one of my favourites. Just a grunt worker and what he brings. To come where he’s come from and all the talk about the off-field stuff and him not fulfilling his potential, for him to knuckle down and really focus on his footy and get the balance between life and football. It’s shown on the field and he’s definitely a big part of why I think the Pies will win this weekend.”
Tip: “Hopefully the Pies by about 12 points, if they can get it going and play their brand of footy. I reckon it’ll be a great game. If both teams play their best, it’s going to be a close one. We’re hoping for that, that’s what grand finals are all about. It’ll be a tough game, the Lions have an amazing list and they’ve shown that all season. The two best teams are playing off and hopefully the Pies can get it clicking and get one back on the Lions.”
Norm Smith Medal: “De Goey would be my prediction. Especially if he can replicate his form from last week.”
2. SHANE WOEWODIN
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “(After being traded from Melbourne that season) I knew I was going to a really exciting list and a great club and was going to play with some of the greats. I thought I trained really hard at the Dees and had really good standards. When I went to the Pies, it just went to another level under the leadership of ‘Bucks’ (Nathan Buckley).
“It was a pinch yourself moment, I really enjoyed it … at a big, powerhouse club. Melbourne probably wasn’t as big a club back then, it was chalk and cheese. It was all very different for me and I didn’t expect to play in a grand final, but we had a really good season.
“After our qualifying final win (over Brisbane), we felt really confident we could do it that year.
“I remember more about the week leading in and the emotion of the week itself, with ‘Pebs’’ (Rocca) tribunal case and getting rubbed out for the hit in the prelim. He got up in front of the group I think on the captain’s run to apologise for not being out there. He said he wished he could be out there and wished us all the best. That was a really big emotional week, I know the boys were pretty shattered and emotional when he spoke.
“That was the emotional rollercoaster that really sticks out to me. I always think, I wonder if that was really needed. That was a big out for us, he was such an important and integral part of the group, him up front.
“The game itself, I thought we were OK in the first quarter. It was the second quarter where Brisbane kicked six goals and really put us to the sword. We went into half-time a good seven goals down, so it was going to be hard from there.”
Now: “Back in Perth after I spent some time in Brisbane as a coach, but the soft cap came in. I took the family back to Western Australia and got involved in amateur coaching in the PSA school system and I’m working in property development. I’m also working with ABC radio, so I’ve still got my finger in the pie with footy. Moreso sitting back now, watching Taj (his son and Demons youngster), but nestled in WA enjoying life.”
Favourite current player: “Jack Crisp for me. I coached ‘Crispy’ when he was first drafted in Brisbane, we were devastated when he left. He had such talent and we knew he was going to go a long way. What he’s done for Collingwood, such a durable player and he’s been an integral part of that playing group for a long time. His flexibility – he can go inside and outside and play off half back and gives them a lot of drive.”
Tip: “The Pies by 14 points. My heart says the Pies and I’d love to see them win it, but every time they lose a player this week, your head starts saying Brisbane. If the Lions’ powerhouse forward line gets going, it’s really heart to stop. It just depends if the Victorian biased crowd can get the Pies over the line.”
Norm Smith Medal: “I’m going Jack Crisp, doubling down on the above. I think ‘Crispy’ might just have a big one.”
6. BRODIE HOLLAND
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “If I’m being as honest as I can be, I can’t remember too much. I vaguely remember running out and then standing on the wrong side of Jason Akermanis at the centre bounce, because I was so nervous. ‘Aker’ kicked a goal on me in the first quarter and he was probably the best player on the ground at that stage.
“I was on the bench for most of the second quarter because my first quarter was so bad. I came on in the third quarter and went to Simon Black – and it didn’t get any easier from there!
“It wasn’t a great day for me, I wish I’d done a few things differently to prepare better. I don’t think I handled the day that well. I was a bit nervous and I reckon it got to me a bit. It was probably one of my worst games for the season, and there was probably a few Collingwood players in the same boat on that day.
“I know Brisbane was the best team I ever played against, but I think just about any other team in the top eight would’ve beaten us that day. I just felt like we were off. Our energy the week before was through the roof. And Port Adelaide, who were the minor premiers, didn’t look like they were in the game at any stage and we hit hard and ran hard.
“The next week was the polar opposite. It’s hard to know why that was the case, but it just was, it was just an off day on the wrong day of the year.”
Now: “Coaching at local level – premier league EDFL for Maribyrnong Park and division one WRFL for Caroline Springs. Last year, I stepped it up and went to the VFL with the North Bullants … but there weren’t any full-time opportunities with them this year, so I’ve taken a little step back. I’ve got three young kids and that keeps my wife Sarita and I busy. Her and I do a bit of social media advertising and so fourth in between working and other commitments. We do a bit of renovating too, which has been a bit of fun. Sarita is probably more the driver of that than me, she’s the one with the creative flair. I’m just the one that nods my head and says: ‘Yep, sounds good to me.’ Life is pretty good at the moment.”
Favourite current player: “I’ve got a few actually. I’m a big ‘Crispy’ (Jack Crisp) fan, I must admit. Taylor Adams has always been one of my favourites, I just like the way he goes about it, that hard edge and ruthless side he brings … Brody Mihocek is one I coached for a year too at Caroline Springs, got him over from Tassie when he didn’t get drafted … I always watch Brody pretty closely and a bit of a namesake thing as well. The kids love Bobby Hill and ‘Ginny’ (Jack Ginnivan), so there’s a few favourites going around in the household.”
Tip: “The Pies by seven points. I think they’re playing well enough to win a grand final. It depends if Jack Payne plays, he’s pretty important to the mix, and you’ve got Dan McStay out. Then you’ve got the home ground advantage at the MCG, but it’s going to be 28 degrees. That’s probably going to suit Brisbane. The closer you look at it, the closer the game looks like it’s going to pan out.”
Norm Smith Medal:“I’m going to go with the obvious, Jordan De Goey. I thought that was the best game he’s ever played for the club last week. He just willed himself at the contest, shrugged tackles, won hard balls and was super clean with the footy. I was really impressed with his game.”
11. SHANE O’BREE
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “Obviously devastated, we had a really consistent year. We beat Brisbane pretty convincingly in the qualifying final and went into the grand final really confident. Losing Rocca was a big loss for us. We lost the year before too and were probably out for redemption and were really close in that ‘02 grand final. But ‘03 probably hurt more than ‘02 because we were favourites and had endured back-to-back years of losing, so it was devastating.”
Now: “I’m in a dual midfield coaching/list management role at the Cats. It’s been a great role for me after stepping out of the VFL coaching gig. I’ve been down here in Geelong for seven years.”
Favourite current player: “I won’t say one, but I’ve got a soft spot for ‘Pendles’ (Scott Pendlebury) and ‘Sidey’ (Steele Sidebottom) because I played with them. To see them come in as young fellas, how raw they were and how good of a players they were straight away. To still be playing AFL at the level they are at the moment is fantastic. They’re great to watch and good fellas.”
Tip: “The Pies by eight points. They’ve been the standout team all year and I think the day itself in Melbourne, I reckon they’re used to the pressure of big games and full crowds, which will get them over the line. They know how to win close games.”
Norm Smith Medal: “Jordan De Goey will be best on ground. His game last week – seeing him live and the way he’s moving and playing – I think it’s put him in good stead for the grand final. Hearing him talk this week, he’s out for redemption a bit of losing in 2018. I think that’ll spur him on a little bit and he’ll break the game open.”
14. SHANE WAKELIN
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “A lot of people forget we beat Brisbane in that first final at the MCG. We were pretty confident going into that ‘03 Grand Final, but we did have a lot of players – there’d been quite a bit of turnover from the ‘02 team.
“We just started poorly. We actually had our opportunities in that third quarter, I think (Alan) Didak had two or three shots on goal, but we could never get that momentum going. I still remember (Alastair) Lynch took a mark on me literally in the first 30 seconds, he pushed me under the ball, these days it would be a push in the back.
“I probably need a good psychologist to unpack it one day, but your expectations going into a second grand final after having lost one, it’s a big mental challenge. I’ve never really spoken to my old teammates about it.
“I don’t have really clear recollections of the game other than it was a massive impact losing ‘Pebs’ (Rocca) to suspension and it’s quite often overlooked. All footy people will look at is the result of the game, we lost arguably our most important player from a structural point of view, and we just couldn’t get momentum.
“They punched us on the end of the nose in that first quarter and we just couldn’t really get any positive territory out of the midfield. It was pretty tough down back. Just that feeling of lost opportunity after the game even though we had a great year. Unfortunately we just couldn’t execute on the big day.
“I have fonder memories of ‘02 – we didn’t have one All-Australian in the side. You talk about getting the best out of a group of players and your teammates giving everything for each other, that was a pretty special group of players.
“I’m a pretty optimistic person, I just reflect on an incredible opportunity both ‘02 and ‘03 were playing in grand finals. Sure, we would’ve loved to win one, but luck plays a big part in our game and we were unlucky to come against arguably the greatest side of all time. They could have eight Hall of Famers out of that side, which is unheard of for any team.”
Now: “I’m an executive director and part owner of ARK Capital Funds – we’re a lender private debt funds management business with about 200 million funds under management. It’s filling a really strong void that gets left behind when you retire from footy and you’re finding your home. I do (still attend Collingwood games) with my family. I’ve also been on the AFL tribunal the last nine years, so I have to retain a balance and independence there. That’s really my only involvement in footy, I’m just an old past player in the crowd now and I love it.”
Favourite current player: “I’ve probably got two answers. To go along to the footy, you can’t go past Nick (Daicos) – he’s a special generational talent that sees the game and has awareness of the game not many of the great players have had. I’ve always got a soft spot for the backman. I think the year (Isaac) Quaynor has put together and how he’s evolved as a player. It’s hard to split him and (Brayden) Maynard.”
Tip: “Collingwood by 23 points. I didn’t think GWS could play any better last week. One of the Pies’ biggest strengths is their ability to turnover and transition the ball quickly between the arcs, you can do that against Brisbane. Collingwood’s layers of defence and ability to score against Brisbane on turnover could make a couple of their young defenders nervous and accountable. If they do those things and start well, the Pies are well and truly on their way … they have to hold Harris Andrews accountable and limit his intercept marks.”
Norm Smith Medal: “I’d love to see De Goey win it. I’m a bit of a football romantic, I think we’re hard to judge young kids – some of them are ratbags, some of them mature late, some of them are just poor decision makers. We miss the good parts of them as people. I’d love to see him really elevate himself on the big stage. I think he’s an A-grader, but he can then put himself in that level of stars who really produced on the grand final stage.”
23. ANTHONY ROCCA
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “Even thinking about it, I get goosebumps. The incident happened in the prelim against Port where I went to bump Brendon Lade and my elbow came up. It got him on the shoulder first then snuck up a little bit high. These days you might get a fine and with an early plea, you probably get off.
“It was a big week fatiguing week, I went to the tribunal then the appeals board. I was just really disappointed I let a lot of people down in regards to my teammates first, then the coaches and my family.
“I was in the coaches box and listening to everything going on. It was a really tough day, we tried our guts out early and Brisbane was just way too good. Over time, you wonder whether what happened and the whole week lead up impacted the whole group.
“I was a focal point up forward, where, if I wasn’t marking the ball I was bringing it down for smaller players to crumb or impact. What happened to me doesn’t just impact me, it impacts others around. I was a little bit disappointed with that feeling that what I did impacted the whole group, absolutely.
“But that’s life, you carry on. Over time you learn to live with the pain of missing a grand final. I was grateful I got the opportunity the year before to experience a grand final, even though it was a loss, which we nearly stole from the Brisbane Lions.
Now: “It’s come full circle for me – I’m the head coach of the boys program at the Northern Knights in the U18s Coates League. It’s where my journey started from before I got to the AFL. It’s really nice to be involved with developing the kids here to possibly get picked up in the draft, or just become the best version of themselves.”
Favourite current player: “There’s a few – I love the way Darcy Moore goes about it, the way he intercepts and impacts games is important and his leadership is outstanding. I still love the guys who I played with. Scott Pendlebury, the fact he’s still playing is unbelievable. He doesn’t look like he’s getting any quicker, but experience counts for everything – where to be, where to move and the ability to see things before anyone else has seen it. Steele Sidebottom is still running up and down that wing. The rise of Mason Cox. He’s underrated away from Collingwood and you hear the external noise, but what this man has done … coming from Texas and not having kicked the footy in 2015, I think it was, it’s a huge achievement. To be in a position where he took that 2018 prelim against Richmond by the scruff of its neck and turned that game. His ruckwork has come on in leaps and bounds in the last year or two, it’s fantastic.”
Tip: “Collingwood by nine points (the same margin Brisbane won by in 2002), redemption. It’s going to be a huge game, I would love the game to be like Geelong-Sydney last year. I don’t want a close game – our hearts can’t handle it! But the reality is Collingwood doesn’t win by big margins. It’s going to be a battle of the small forwards of either team who do the most damage.”
Norm Smith Medal: “Jamie Elliott with four goals as the difference by kicking those goals.”
25. JOSH FRASER
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “It felt like an opportunity missed. ‘02 was an incredible ride, and even that particular day, to get so close, in some ways was heartbreaking. But I thought in ‘03 we were really well prepared. We’d beaten Brisbane in the first final and thought we felt like we’d figured them out a little bit, so we went into grand final day confident.
“But we just ran into an incredible team, they were clearly at their best and we weren’t. I do take my hat off to Brisbane, they were an incredible side through that era.”
Now: “Post playing I moved straight into coaching and spent some time at the Gold Coast Suns and Carlton. I’m back at the Pies now as the head of development and VFL coach.”
Favourite current player: “That is a tough one. I don’t know if I have a favourite as such, but I admire ‘Pendles’ (Pendlebury), having played with him and seeing his consistency and standard he’s set for such a long period of time. Steele Sidebottom is in the same boat. You marvel at how well those guys have gone the last two years, considering they were teammates at one point.”
Tip: “Collingwood by 17 points. I think it’s going to be a fantastic game and that the best two sides are in the grand final, which is a great result. I think it’s going to be combative and contested with a lot of momentum swings. But naturally, I feel like we’re well placed and I’m hoping we can kick a couple late to push the margin out to a distance that’s hard for them to rein in.”
Norm Smith Medal: “I’m going to go Nathan Murphy. I admire ‘Murph’ and think he does a fantastic job. His courage and the way he plays the game, I think he’s well set up to play really well for us.”
28. BEN KINNEAR
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “I haven’t thought about it for 20 years, probably because of the result. The experience, as you get older, I’ve still got a very sour taste in my mouth. Not being able to walk away with the thing you dreamt about as a child.
“Nevertheless, as you get older and have kids, you start to understand a little bit more about life and what it meant to people around you. The day is special in that sense, but it’s still an uncompleted job.”
Now: “Living in Queensland trying to spend as much time at the beach I can with the kids. I’m involved in Maroochydore footy club at a junior level, working with some talented young kids in that age group.”
Favourite current player: “Can I say Dane Swan?,” he quipped. “No, Isaac Quaynor, he can run and is so exciting.”
Tip: “The Pies by 19. Their pressure at the contest and up forward is elite.”
Norm Smith Medal: “JDG (De Goey), following on from his prelim appearance. He was unbelievable. Dustin Martin sits in a league in his own come finals time, he and De Goey are similar characters in a sense in that nothing seems too much for them and they’re not phased by the occasion. They deliver on the big stage, which is a hell of a quality.”
29. HEATH SCOTLAND
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “Twenty years later, it’s getting thinner and thinner! One thing that sticks out to me, coming into the finals, I felt pretty confident even though my spot wasn’t guaranteed.
“From a team perspective, we’d beaten Brisbane in the first final and they’d limped in with a few injuries … but it was a complete domination, they physically mauled us and it was one of those games where we were never really in it from the start.
“It’s one of those memories I’ve tried to subdue and not think about too much, but you look back all these years later and think, jeez, two opportunities in two grand finals that got away.”
Now: “I coach local football at Deer Park — we won the flag last week which was nice — and run a signage business, which I’ve been doing for about six years now. It keeps me busy with three kids and their sport now — I have less time!”
Favourite current player: “I love De Goey, but I can’t go past Steele Sidebottom. I love the way he plays — balanced and a hard worker with beautiful skills. He’s still dominating footy as he’s getting older, so really love the way he goes about it.:
Tip: “Pies by 17. I think they’re the best side and I love the way they’re playing. They’re never out of it and have been able to fight their way through those close games and find a way to win and I think Saturday will be no different … 20 years later, it’d be a nice fitting reversal of results.”
Norm Smith Medal: “Jack Crisp. I think he’ll break the game open, we saw what he did on the weekend, he’s a quality player. I think the game is set up for him to have a really big day.”
34. JASON CLOKE
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “It’s 20 years ago, so it’s actually hard to remember. It was a big thing for me because I wasn’t playing the year before (due to suspension).
“It’s a different week, it’s full on. You’ve got training with 5,000-10,000 people there you’re not used to and you’re doing the parade. It’s something completely different from a normal preparation.
“I tried not to watch any replays of 2002 and 2003. It’s hard to watch the one where I didn’t play in 2002 – in my mind, I still don’t reckon I did anything wrong the week before and got suspended – given we lost by such a small margin. I still speak to supporters today and some of them joke that if I’d played, we would’ve won.
“Then I get blamed for 2003 – I got moved to centre-half forward when Rocca didn’t play when I’d never played at centre-half forward for Collingwood. Mick said I might as well not have played.”
Now: “I left Victoria just before Covid, moved up to the Gold Coast for family and lifestyle reasons. I’m semi-retired as a carpenter and builder up here, just doing little bits here and there. I’m the PNC president at my kid’s school – I run all the Father’s Day and Mother’s Day stalls and those kinds of things. Just trying to enjoy life with my wife and three boys.”
Favourite current player: “Well, my kids love the Daicos brothers – my youngest one goes around the house kicking the footy into doors yelling out Daicos all the time. I’ve grown up with their dad, so now seeing them come through is cool to watch.”
Tip: “Collingwood by about seven points. If you have a look at all the finals, I think it’s going to be a very close one again and a cracking game. Brisbane has won the last six games against them – but none have been at the MCG. You’re playing a side, not a ground, but you need the 19th person on the field too – which is the Collingwood army. I think that’s going to make a big difference.”
Norm Smith Medal: “Defenders and forwards never win it, so it’s going to go to an on-baller. I’ll go Daicos, that way I’ve got two chances of getting it.”
35. SIMON PRESTIGIACOMO
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “I have been thinking about it, especially with the Collingwood-Brisbane grand final coming up this week, I’ve done more reflecting. I don’t remember a heap, I don’t know if the two grand finals blended into each other or if I remember more about the ‘02 game because we were in the game for most of it.
“It’s more memories of it not being a great day. We weren’t ever really in the contest at all. At least in ‘02, we gave it a shot and had a fair dinkum crack.
“I started in 1996 and the ‘02 campaign was the first time the club had played finals since I’d been there. We were underdogs that weren’t supposed to be there or win one, so we would’ve pinched one. We went into ‘03 as favourites, but they just came out and smashed us unfortunately.
“I reflect more on the prelims and qualifying finals and build up, because you enjoyed that more. Playing in the grand finals are good memories, but not getting the result we wanted aren’t great memories.”
Now: “I’m still involved at Collingwood, I head up the merchandise team. Dealing with a lot of the retail product, the shop and our online side of things. Also a lot of work with our on-field supply, Nike. It’s really interesting to see the business and commercial side of the footy club and getting that exposure. It’s been a huge eye opener coming from the footy side, I’ve been doing it for over 10 years. It’s great to still be involved in a footy club … I got drafted at the end of 1995, so coming up to nearly 30 years at Collingwood.”
Favourite current player: “I have a soft side for the defenders and I like watching those guys. I don’t really have a favourite, but I enjoy watching Darcy (Moore), ‘Murph’ (Nathan Murphy), ‘Howey’ (Jeremy Howe) and Isaac Quaynor go about their business. It’s a different game to when I played when it was a lot more shutdown, now it’s more about spring boarding – intercept marking and attacking from defence.”
Tip: “I’ve got to tip the Pies … by four points. I think it’ll probably continue on the way we’ve been getting things done, it’s going to be close. Hopefully we’re not having to come from behind and still have a narrow lead the whole game. I think it’s just the way we’ve done things and we’re all used to it now. I don’t think it’s going to change, but it’d be nice to be relaxed at three-quarter time if we were by eight goals! But it’s not the way we do things.”
Norm Smith Medal: “He’ll be one of the favourites, but I’ll go for ‘Jordy’ (De Goey).I just think he’s built for finals footy and grand finals, that contested footy. He’s in good form and has performed well in finals before – we saw in the prelim the way he was breaking tackles and bursting through.”
39. MATTHEW LOKAN
Reflections on the 2003 Grand Final: “It was my first year, so to be able to play in the grand final in my first season was really special. The result obviously didn’t go the way we wanted, but it’s an amazing week. The build up to it’s huge and it’s a huge day. Something I look back at now and it’s a bit surreal.”
Now: “I’m a teacher by trade, so I’m about to start a new teaching role at St Michaels in Adelaide. I’ve spent the last five seasons at Port Adelaide as a development coach and finished at the end of 2022. I’ve done a few things in the last 12 months and gotten involved in the mining industry.”
Favourite current player: “I don’t think you can go past Nick Daicos. What he’s been able to do in a short time in the AFL is outstanding. Along with Zak Butters, they’re my son’s favourite players! Daicos is so exciting to watch, the way he uses the footy and is able to get hold of it. He’s going to play a big part for them on Saturday.”
Tip: “Collingwood by 18 points. Being in Melbourne, at the MCG and in front of some passionate supporters. Their ability to turn their really strong defence into some pretty potent offence is going to be important for them. They say grand finals are won off really strong defences and Collingwood’s defence is outstanding.”
Norm Smith Medal: “Nick Daicos. His season has been outstanding, to be able to have the impact he’s had in only his second year in AFL football. It’d be a bit of a fairytale for him to be able to win the Norm Smith and I’ll be hoping he does it.”
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