Call that an earthquake? Magpie army shakes Melbourne

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It took until dying seconds until they knew it – but once they did, they let it all out.

In true Collingwood fashion, there was plenty of swearing – but it wasn’t laced with aggression. Just pure joy from the black and white army when their side secured premiership number 16 with victory over the Brisbane Lions.

Fans celebrate Magpies winning the grand final at the Collingwood fan site at Olympic Park.Credit: Chris Hopkins

“I feel amazing today, I can’t believe it,” said Tracey Farley, a Collingwood fan of more than 40 years. “It was heart-wrenching, absolutely heart-wrenching. We have a 7am flight to Tassie tomorrow, we’ll still be up.”

Early Saturday, there was a small earthquake recorded in Melbourne’s north, with a magnitude of 2.2. That was barely a tremor compared to the convulsion that reverberated across the city when the final siren rang.

The epicentre was Collingwood’s training ground at Olympic Park.

The MCG has its blend of neutrals, but the concentration of thousands of Pies fans at the club’s watch party was like 100-proof liquor.

And they’ll be consuming plenty of whatever they can get their hands on after a back-and-forth game that will go down as one of the all-time great grand final tussles.

You could barely breathe in the final quarter, such were the nerves.

Then the tension was released like a giant spring.

They jumped, they ran around, they screamed. The mobile phone network struggled under the load of all the calls, text messages and social media posts.

Olympic Park erupted on the final siren.Credit: Chris Hopkins

Raihania Thompson wiped back tears in the moments after the game was over. He doesn’t look like the type of bloke who cries often.

“After [the loss in] 2018, this is just … oh my God,” he said, battling for words. “It was intense. Every goal they kicked we had to respond. It was just … wow. I just love this club.”

They adored Bobby Hill’s game. The small forward only joined the club a year ago, but he’s already a Magpie legend forever.

The mark he took in the second quarter will be on posters in children’s bedrooms for years to come.

“Bobby, it has to be Bobby,” said Thompson when asked of his pick for the Norm Smith Medal. At that point Hill was an un-backable favourite, his win confirmed a few minutes later to huge cheers from the black and white.

Then it was time for another rendition of the club chant, you know the one. It goes COOOOOOO-LING-WOOOOOOOOOD.

Gary Robson travelled from Western Australia to see the game. He couldn’t get a ticket but did the next best thing and joined fellow Magpies to watch Collingwood on the big screen.

“I’m 55, you don’t see them [premierships] often,” he said, as he prepared a celebratory cigarette.

“I wouldn’t have begrudged Brisbane winning that.”

The definition of confidence?Credit: Chris Hopkins

Danny Robertson, a Pies fan for 59 years, said he felt “like a million bucks”.

“Craig McRae – he’s the man,” Robertson said of the Collingwood coach.

“They’ve all bought into what he’s selling. He’s just getting the best out of every single player and then some.

It was all too much for some.Credit: Chris Hopkins

“They just kept going forward. How about Pendles [Scott Pendlebury] and Steele [Sidebottom]? That goal was huge.”

It didn’t all go their way. The game was a topsy-turvy contest, with both teams getting on top at various times. Brisbane could have easily pushed ahead, but fell short.

The Collingwood fans rode each contest, roaring with delight at every goal and screaming “BALLL!” as if the umpires half a kilometre away could hear them.

At three-quarter time, with the result still in the balance, cracks began to appear.

“It’ll either be the best or worst day of my life,” said Chris. “I’m about the most stressed I’ve ever been.”

Collingwood has a knack for making grand finals – but not necessarily winning them. There was very little discussion of what happened in 2018, when West Coast’s Dom Sheed snatched the premiership from the Magpies.

“I think Collingwood will have enough. I feel as if it’s 1990 again, when they went from just losing games to winning them,” said Jenny Bone before the game.

Bone was keeping a close eye on number 23, the one with the surname Hill: “He’s exciting, when he does something big it doesn’t have to be much. It electrifies the game.”

Beau McCreery and Bobby Hill celebrate their grand final victory.Credit: Joe Armao

She was spot on.

When the game was done, thousands more fans began pouring into Olympic Park to join the party, which promised to go on late in to the night.

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