Updated: Jun 11
As we head into the first King’s Birthday match in 70 years, let’s take a look back at the last couple of Queen’s birthday clashes in what always seems to be a cracking game of football between the Magpies and the Demons.
2021: Pies stun Dees to send Buckley out with a bang
It’s hard to remember now, but back in 2021 the Magpies were struggling. Things just weren't clicking for Nathan Buckley and his Collingwood squad as they headed into the Queen's Birthday clash with a record of 3 wins and 9 losses. The Pies had a horrendous trade period in the off season which saw them trade away Treloar, Stephenson and Phillips for not much. The controversial-yet-passionate Eddie McGuire was pressured by the Collingwood board to step down as the club's president at the start of the '21 season. Nathan Buckley read the tea leaves and decided it was best to step down as head coach before getting a tap on the shoulder. Buckley announced that it was time for a change and that his last game as coach would be the upcoming Queen's Birthday match against the flag favourites. The Magpies were determined to pay respect to their outgoing coach and handed the red hot Demons one of only four losses in 2021.
The Pies came ready to play with an enthusiasm that hadn't been seen all season. Collingwood were competing with Melbourne goal for goal up until the second quarter and were able to break away to 16 point leaders at half time thanks to several precise entries into forward 50 and a strong don't argue from Beau McCreery. The Demons were always going to keep coming however and kicked the first 3 goals after half time to snatch back the lead. The rest of the third quarter was an arm wrestle but it was the Magpies who took the momentum back right at the end of the quarter thanks to the ever reliable Mihocek kicking his third goal. Darcy Cameron was also pivotal for the Pies and kicked his fourth straight goal four and a half minutes into the final quarter to give Collingwood some breathing room. Captain Scott Pendlebury showed his class once again with 31 disposals and critical goal in the fourth quarter to push their lead out to 19 points and was awarded the Neale Daniher trophy for his efforts.
Competitive beasts Maynard and De Goey led the way for Collingwood, both finishing with 32 disposals. Luke Jackson did his best and was the only multiple goal kicker for Melbourne, with two goals at important times in the match and 21 disposals. Petracca featured in the best for the Demons with 27 disposals and a goal, but even he couldn't spoil the Bucks party. This match proved only to be a blip in an otherwise dominant 2021 campaign for eventual premiers Melbourne, however it will go down as a famous win against the odds that reminds us about the power of narratives in footy.
2022: Melbourne’s nightmare continues after Collingwood’s comeback
The Demons were having their first bad run of form in what seemed like forever, with the Pies handing them their third consecutive loss following a 17 match winning streak. It looked like it was all starting to come undone at Melbourne, with both Steven May & Jake Melkshem having to miss the match following an off field scuffle that garnered a fair bit of media attention. Simon Goodwin’s name was also plastered all over the media following the leak of a report of a 2021 investigation that Goodwin was close to being sacked. The Demons looked like they had put all of that noise behind them in the first half and were leading by as much as 20 points in the third quarter. However, a second half blitz by Collingwood confirmed Goodwin’s fears that there would be more heat from the media over the coming week.
Rising star favourite Nick Daicos had another breakout game and had the most possessions for the Magpies, finishing with 33 disposals. Mihocek kicked 4 goals straight and Elliot kicked 3 of his own to lead Collingwood to a famous victory over Melbourne. Mason Cox was a big part of the comeback and found himself in the best with 21 disposals, nine marks and a thrilling goal on the run. But the best on ground & Neale Daniher trophy recipient wasn’t a Collingwood player, it was Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver, who battled hard and had another monster day with 43 disposals and a goal to his name.
This was an important win for Collingwood which fuelled the Magpies belief that they can always win from behind, which they proved many times again throughout the rest of the season. They had only just gotten over the line in their last two matches and they continued to win their following seven matches, many of them in extraordinary fashion. This win was proof to the Collingwood faithful that they were in very good hands with new coach Craig McRae.
Prediction for 2023 King's Birthday Clash: Collingwood by 15 points.