Collingwood’s 2013 campaign prematurely ended in the first week of the finals at the hands of Port Adelaide in its sudden death elimination final.
The Magpies were gallant for most of the season as they qualified for their eighth consecutive finals campaign, but overall performed slightly below expectations. Back in January, the Bound For Glory team forecast the Magpies were in a position to finish between second and fifth.
Ultimately by finishing sixth after the home and away season, Collingwood recorded their lowest ladder position since 2008’s eighth place finish.
After recording narrow wins in the opening two rounds over North Melbourne and Carlton, the Magpies remained consistently inconsistent over the next few weeks trading wins and losses in the first half of the season.
Notably, these defeats were all against teams that occupied positions above the Magpies in the top eight for the vast majority of the season, three of which in Hawthorn, Fremantle and Sydney eventually progressed into preliminary final weekend.
Collingwood finished off the home and away rounds in solid fashion, recording wins in nine of 12 matches from rounds 10 to 22, ensuring itself a finals place. However, it wasn’t enough for the Pies to climb into the top four as they remained anchored and vulnerable in the bottom half of the eight.
The round 23 defeat to North Melbourne, whilst remaining inconsequential to the Magpies eventual ladder position, may just have caught the Pies with their eyes slightly off the ball heading into their home elimination final against the Power as the heavily fancied favourites.
The victory over the Cats in round eight, and the triumph over the Swans in round 20 showed at their best, the Magpies could match it with the cream of the competition in 2013.
Scott Pendlebury was a shining light for Collingwood in 2013 winning his second Copeland Trophy as the Magpies best and fairest. Pendlebury also polled well in the Brownlow Medal count with 21 votes, his third tally over 20 votes in the last four seasons, and was rewarded with All-Australian selection.
Dane Swan again was an impressive contributor for the Magpies, and his efforts were duly recognised with All-Australian selection, and second placing in the Copeland Trophy, while he actually out-polled Pendlebury in the Brownlow with a third placing overall with 26 votes, behind only winner Gary Ablett and runner-up Joel Selwood.
Travis Cloke after an indifferent 2012 was also back to his best, booting 68 goals for the season and also earned himself All-Australian selection.
Collingwood was well served by blooding younger players in 2013, and the likes of Josh Thomas, Brodie Grundy, Jamie Elliott and Paul Seedsman will be expected to take on a greater role in 2014.
The inability to string a prolonged winning sequence together, and injuries to key personnel such as Dayne Beams, Dale Thomas, Alan Toovey, Darren Jolly and Luke Ball, all of whom played less than 13 matches meant that the Magpies rarely had access to their best 22, and were playing under strength for the majority of the season.
Disappointing losses also hurt the Magpies, notably the seven-point defeat to the Gold Coast in round 17, and the two losses to Port Adelaide, 35 points in round 14 and worst of all, the season ending 24-point defeat to the Power in the elimination final.
Key signings and departures
While a ninth consecutive finals campaign is still very much on the cards, 2014 will be about regeneration for the Magpies.
The Magpies were active in the trade period, acquiring Jesse White from the Swans, Taylor Adams as part of the Heath Shaw deal from the Giants, and also Patrick Karnezis from the Brisbane Lions, all of whom will be pushing hard for a spot in the senior side from the opening round.
However, the Magpies have also had a major list cleanout with the loss of 2010 premiership players in Dale Thomas (Carlton), Heath Shaw (GWS) and Ben Johnson (retired). Darren Jolly and Alan Didak were also both delisted.
Additionally Jackson Paine was traded to the Lions, while Andrew Krakouer, Jordan Russell and lesser lights Ben Richmond and Michael Hartley were all delisted.
Draft wise, the Magpies made excellent use of their first round selections gaining the highly rated South Australian Matthew Scharenberg with pick six via Glenelg, and also the exciting Nathan Freeman from the Sandringham Dragons with pick 10, who has now inherited the departed Heath Shaw‘s number 39 guernsey.
The Pies also utilised their later picks acquiring Tom Langdon (pick 65, Sandringham) and Jonathon Marsh (pick 77, East Fremantle).
Overall grade: B-
While the Magpies managed to play finals football in 2013, ultimately they fell a little short of expectations, and therefore have been awarded a grade of B-.