Why Carlton vs Collingwood will be one of the best games this year

Sunday afternoon’s anticipated clash between the Blues and the Pies at the MCG has got box-office entertainment written all over it, with so much at stake for both clubs.

It all comes down to one final regular season game, with Collingwood vying to cement a crucial top-four spot whereas Carlton will look to book a finals berth at the fourth time of asking.

Ever since their first meeting way back in 1892, this is known as the longest rivalry in the AFL which is also arguably the biggest rivalry due to the pure hatred that both supporters have for each other.

Rewinding all the way to the beginning, these two teams were culturally separated in their beliefs. Collingwood was known for their work ethic by working long hours in factories and workshops while also having a strong Catholic faith.

Carlton belonged to both the middle and upper class who had great economical advantages due to working in fields such as business and entrepreneurship.

It wasn’t until the 1910 grand final that caused this rivalry to spice up an extra level. During the game a massive brawl erupted involving the entire two squads, remembering that back then there was a blind eye turned involving violence in the sport.

Carlton Blues fans celebrate a goal.

Carlton Blues fans celebrate a goal. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Suspensions as long as 12-18 months were handed out and since then this antagonism has been here to stay. 

One of the biggest controversies in recent times was former Collingwood coach and legend Mick Malthouse switching alliances to take over the Blues.

Former Carlton midfielder Brock McLean, who spent two years under the guidance of Malthouse made some interesting comments last year. 

“I just think from a lot of the stuff that Mick said within the footy club was just that he was there for the wrong reasons. I really felt like he still had a bee in his bonnet from what had transpired at Collingwood.” 

With 31 premierships between them (Carlton 16, Collingwood 15) and 261 meetings (Carlton 128 wins, Collingwood 128), these two giants will once again fight and go into battle for a 262nd time this weekend in what is all set up to be one of the best home and away fixtures in history. 

Despite Carlton’s lack of form in the past few weeks, both teams possess great ball movement in the middle of the ground and have the talent in the attacking 50 to make special moments happen. 

Since coaches Craig McRae and Michael Voss have taken over the reins of their new clubs, they have been able to install a winning mentality and a close-knit playing group who are willing to work for each other consistently throughout games.

Patrick Cripps of the Blues avoids a tackle by Brayden Maynard of the Magpies

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The constant pressure that is put on the opposition cannot be underestimated, as it has no doubt one of the secrets to both sides’ aggressive gameplay this season. 

The tackling statistics back this up. The Magpies are above the competition average in tackles, tackles inside 50, turnovers, and intercept possessions. Carlton is impressively similar besides the turnovers being right on average and falling just behind in tackles completed. 

This is the main reason why the fans and neutrals should be expecting a fiery encounter. The background of these head-to-head wars has witnessed many brawls and hot-tempered encounters that have managed to carry on to this day.

Players like Jack Ginnivan and Matthew Owies love the attention and a scuffle or two, which there is sure to be plenty of with so much on the line.

Despite the sense of occasion and the potential nerves, especially in the first few minutes, this should be an attacking matchup with both sides wanting to take the game on based on their game structures. No team can afford to sit back and soak up time and pressure. 

Who can forget about the electric atmosphere in the stands? The G is expected to reach just close to 100,000 spectators which will be incredible for the players to feed off that energy that will no doubt have a finals feeling to it.

What makes this clash even more intriguing is the fact that both teams are coming off gruelling losses. Carlton was 14 seconds away from making the top eight before they lost a nail-biter to Melbourne by less than a kick. The Pies finally had their 11-game winning streak come to an end after a 27-point loss to the Swans in Sydney.

This extra added motivation to bounce back will only further ignite this game which is already eagerly anticipated. 

Back in May, it was the black and white who edged the Blues by five points in an entertaining back and forth game which is sure to produce much of the same this week.

In the past 130 years, players, supporters, club presidents, and CEOs have come and gone, but one thing that will stay for eternity is this bitter rivalry between Carlton and Collingwood. 

Another piece of history will be written on Sunday.

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