Liam Durkin

 

AFL premier Collingwood paid a visit to Gippsland this week.

The Magpies came down for a four-day event, taking part in a number of community engagements.

Last Sunday saw a signing session in Morwell, before school visits in the Latrobe Valley and further west.

The Magpies also took the time to visit Fish Creek Football-Netball Club.

The Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League and former Alberton FNL club is on the recovery trail after a devastating fire burnt their clubrooms to the ground.

Fire disintegrated most of the club’s memorabilia, including this year’s MGFNL senior premiership cup.

The Kangaroos were presented a replacement cup at the recent MGFNL annual meeting.

With close to 40 senior flags to their name, Fish Creek is one of the most successful clubs in country Victoria.

It was perhaps poignant then that Collingwood, as the equal most successful club in AFL history, was on hand to show their support.

The Magpies brought their 2023 AFL Premiership cup to Fish Creek, who in a nice touch, swapped their Mid Gippsland trophy with Collingwood.

Fish Creek hopes to play home games at Terrill Park next season, with temporary facilities in place.

A GoFundMe effort has already raised more than $100,000.

Collingwood returned to Morwell on Wednesday, and held an open training session at Morwell East Football-Netball Club.

Somewhat bizarrely, the Magpies required a ground without a cricket pitch in the middle in order to do full ground drills, and the Mid Gippsland oval was one of only a few available.

Locals lapped up any brief brushes with fame, which saw Collingwood players spotted in Gippsland cafes during the week.

There was however one noticeable absence, with Sale’s own Scott Pendlebury not yet in training.

At 35-years-of-age, the Collingwood games record holder was granted veterans allowance along with Steele Sidebottom and Jeremy Howe.

Pendlebury is currently on holiday in Byron Bay.

The Collingwood visit was part of a wider AFL Gippsland initiative to hopefully boost participation rates in junior football.

Amazingly, it has been reported there are as many as 250 kids registered with Auskick around Sale, and just 50 or so in Morwell.

Collingwood captain Darcy Moore, who succeeded Sale’s Scott Pendlebury, training in Morwell on Wednesday. Photo: Zaida Glibanovic