This was harder to write than I expected. To pick my list of Collingwood’s took me longer than I expected as I sadly shortened the list leaving off some champions of the club.
The decade started and ended well for Collingwood although they delivered only one premiership despite playing in three Grand Finals (not including the draw). The middle years were not as prolific and we’d hoped and a quick look at key position players for that decade left only a few standouts and therein lies the reason for the limited success. The midfield has been exceptional for that period.
I’m open to discussion here, there will be plenty who disagree with me but here goes:
10. Adam Treloar
Now in his fourth year at Collingwood, it is safe to say his output has been exceptional and he will likely move up this list. He has his critics, mostly due to poor disposal when rushed but this is not always the case. Gets plenty of the ball, moves with pace and a long kick.
9. Dale Thomas
Played eight years at Collingwood from 2006 to 2013 before moving to Carlton with Mick Malthouse in 2014. Was at his best in the premiership year of 2010 and followed up with All Australian selection in 2011. Fast, creative and exciting to watch.
8. Jordan DeGoey
Another likely to move up this list. At only 23 and with 118 games to his name, his best football is ahead of him, injury withstanding. Playing primarily as a key forward to date it would be good to see him spend more time in the midfield but his one on one skills in the forward line are unparalleled. A very hard man to move.
7. Jeremy Howe
Came to Collingwood from Melbourne in 2016 having been promised more time in the forward line which did not come to fruition. Since then is constantly in discussion for All-Australian and was squad listed in 2017. His high marking and ability to read and intercept will ensure he stays in the backline.
6. Alan Didak
Played mostly as a small/medium forward. Incredible skills and confidence verging on arrogance. A smooth mover and a pleasure to watch. Not always on his best behaviour particularly around Dane Swan and Heath Shaw.
5. Travis Cloke
Another player who had his critics, mostly due to his inconsistent goal kicking. Cloke won the Copeland Trophy at 20, was a two time all Australian and led the AFL in contested marks for three years. In 2011 he took 99 contested marks – an AFL record which still stands.
4. Brodie Grundy
As of 2019 is the best ruckman in the game. At 25 there is a lot to come. Already a two time All Australian, dual Copeland trophy winner, Grundy takes contested marks and follows up at ground level like only the best before him have done – the likes of Farmer and Goodes.
3. Steele Sidebottom
In his tenth year at Collingwood and at only 28, still plenty to come. Skilled player equally adept on both sides of his body. Damaging on the wing, in the midfield or forward. Sidebottom was 2nd in the Brownlow in 2018, dual Copeland Trophy winner and All Australian 2018.
2. Dane Swan
Was there anyone less likely when he started to end up here? Swan was low to the ground, had enormous strength through the hips but was never regarded as an elite athlete. Tell that to the opposition midfields. It takes all types. In 258 games for Collingwood, Swan was All-Australian five times, won three Copeland Trophies, won the Browlow medal in 2011 and was third twice. Swan was and still is full of cheek and mischief and while he will be remembered as someone who bucked the trend, but this was also a seriously good footballer – a true champion. It would take someone special but a predictable selection to knock him off top spot.
1. Scott Pendlebury
There have not been many who move like Pendles. A damaging midfield who cuts through oppositions elegantly and delivers on a calm left foot to whoever is lucky enough to be on the end of his work. At 31 and with 301 games his work could be all but done. But he will add more games and become Collingwood’s games record holder by the time he adds to his five Copeland Trophies, six All-Australian selections, Premiership and Norm Smith Medal. Pendlebury has been captain since 2014. Only time will tell when he hangs up the boots, where he will sit in the discussion of Collingwood’s greatest ever.
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