Side by Side with the Players

Jun 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Side by Side

We have a beauty this week from GlovemanGayfer, who not only has a great username, but is also a deft touch with the pen. While this one comes straight from the heart, how prescient it was being posted the morning of the narrow win against the Bulldogs. Many thanks to Gloveman for allowing us to reprint his post here.

“Leon Davis polarises opinion amongst Collingwood supporters. He is seem by some as a luxury player whose undoubted talent shines only fleetingly when required. Others, myself included, see him as being as vital a player as any on our list.

It is fair to say that I feel a sense of ownership with Leon. I feel I am owed a little bit after watching him struggle through the first 50 games. Every now and then something would happen to make it all seem worthwhile and to keep the belief in Leon. This would be followed by games where he would struggle in the most basic aspects of football. My ownership started to bloom, however, when Leon went from the butt of radio jokes to a small forward of the highest calibre, someone to turn games and influence the team as a whole.

Over the next few seasons his development continued; suddenly he was running through the midfield picking up damaging possessions all over the field. Chasing, tackling and demanding respect. Along the way he became the first indigenous player to reach 100 games for the club, no small accomplishment at a club with a history like ours. There was a sense of calm and maturity in Leon that you could see not only in him but in the way the playing group approached him.

Then came last season. Leon was brilliant. All Australian. His first half of the season was as good as any at Collingwood but there was a decline towards the second half of the season. Then came the finals and the “end” of Leon Davis in eyes of many.

Leon has played in two losing GFs. His output in both was marginal at best. His age, inexperience and in the case of the second game, the team’s general performance, were used to excuse him. The 2009 finals were different, however. People expected Leon to deliver now. He owed us! History will only show we lost the finals games; it will never show the vitriol aimed at predominantly one player – Leon Davis.

Suddenly Leon went from All Australian hero to trade bait for anyone who had ever shown an ounce of talent. Names from the West became daily linked with the man who weeks before we believed could help us to the promised land. “We will never win a flag with Leon Davis in the team!” While it could be argued that we never won a flag with Nathan Buckley in the team, either, most Collingwood fans I know did wonder whether to move forward we had to in fact sacrifice one of our “legends” to move closer to the prize (“legend” – at this stage Leon will be the leading indigenous player at our club indefinitely, possibly forever with players careers being impacted upon by free agency, etc).

So what has 2010 shown us? Well, 2010 so far has been a mixed season indeed. At the end of the day we could be second. Lose and we could sit on the same points as Carlton, a team we genuinely think we are far better than. 2010 has shown us that we still have yet to put the finishing touches to the jigsaw. We may have closed some gaps but still are yet to get the job done against Geelong and St Kilda. So who is the difference maker this year? Who will help us make the difference?

Watching the game in Brisbane last week all I could think as I watched the ball ping in and out of our forward line was “we miss Leon”. His chase and tackle, his general energy when the ball hits the ground, the flicks, tap ons and general Leonesque plays. He may not have been 2009 spectacular thus far, but he has been better and more valuable than many give him credit for. Leon is the glue that makes our forward line stick. He is the player that a youngster Like Dawes needs at his feet to reward him for crashing a pack or creating a contest.

Leon’s form hasn’t been All Australian. It hasn’t been the Leon we know. He starts today half way through the season. Rested after a week’s golf and poised I believe to be the difference as the Pies fly towards the finals. If Leon can capture a good burst of form – and more importantly confidence – he is the missing piece in a team that is really doing well without his 3 or 4 goals. If Leon takes hold of a few games it allows the pressure off of Sidebottom and Beams. It also allows the “luxury” of bringing in Brad Dick from injury, knowing that he won’t be doing it alone.

I Love Leon Davis. I feel I have the right to and I feel I have the right to watch him set 2010 on fire. I feel that I also have the right to cheer that little bit louder when the boy I have watched grow to a man holds aloft the premiership cup. I also have the right to dream that it is Leon who kicks his 4th with a banana from the boundary after the siren to win it.

Leon. I love to watch you play. I love the sound the crowd makes when you get the ball and I know you can be the man to take us that extra step. It’s time for the Davis factor.”

GlovemanGayfer, 6 June 2010, General Discussion Forum

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