Howe agony, Daicos heartache underscore rousing Collingwood win

Collingwood’s clinical put-away of reigning premiers Geelong on Friday night belied the emotional backdrop of the death of Stan Daicos, grandfather to young stars Josh and Nick, and a sickening injury to vice-captain and stalwart Jeremy Howe.

The Daicos boys spent Thursday with their parents Peter and Colleen at the elder Daicos’s funeral, bypassing the captain’s run, and played on Friday night wearing black armbands and with rose petals in their boots, which at the final siren they placed in the centre circle.

Nick Daicos of the Magpies at the MCG.Credit:Getty

“It’s been really tough for us – we had the funeral yesterday. Tonight’s game was in honour of him,” Nick told Fox Footy. Added Josh: “It’s been a really tough week for the family. It’s been really tough for us but tonight made it all worth it.”

Peter was in what were joyful Collingwood rooms after the game, hugging both boys and putting an ebullient front on what was no doubt a heavy heart. Extraordinarily, Nick and Josh were both among Collingwood’s best as the Pies overran the Cats.

Coach Craig McRae blinked back tears when asked about their performance under duress. “It makes me a bit emotional,” he said. “We’ve got to look after our own. They’re human beings. It goes beyond the boundary line. They’re two of our most important players and young men and we want to put our arms around them.”

McRae also felt keenly for Howe, who landed heavily from a trademark leap in the third quarter, breaking his arm and necessitating a long halt in the game until he was removed on a motorised stretcher and taken to hospital.

McRae confirmed he had a forearm fracture and would probably have surgery on Saturday. “He’s such an important player. He’s the vice-captain,” he said. “We all love him. When you see one of the good guys go down, you think that there’s going to be a cost somewhere.”

As it transpired, after falling four goals behind, Collingwood lifted to hold Geelong goalless in the last quarter and kick five of their own to romp away with the win, kicking their highest score for five years.

McRae said he knew Collingwood had the fitness and run. It was just a matter of freeing themselves. “We just had to get to work. We had to get that game going,” he said.

He was especially pleased with the performance of star recruit and Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell, who clean handling in close gave the Magpies a dimension to their game they had lacked.

Tom Mitchell of the Magpies is congratulated by teammates after kicking a goal.Credit:Getty

“We get him in for a reason. His first possession is as good as anyone in the competition,” McRae said. “We were lacking in that area and needed someone to get in and get it for us. It was part of our game last year we needed to get on top of.

“His first possessions to Jordy [de Goey] and Nick Daicos … he’s going to make a lot of players better around him.”

But McRae added a sober caveat. “We’re under no illusion. It’s round one,” he said. “There are no patterns of behaviour yet. But it’s nice to beat the reigning premiers. That’s a good start.”

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