Collingwood in the country

Casual: Yinnar South Primary School students sitting around with 2018 Brownlow medallist, Tom Mitchell, who recently was traded to Collingwood from Hawthorn.





IT’S not often that kids from Gippsland can talk to Brownlow medallists, or hang out with their footballing heroes, but some were able to last week.

The Latrobe Valley was home to its second AFL club in a matter of weeks, when Collingwood Magpies came down for a community camp.

From February 7 to 8, the Magpies spent time in the community doing Q&A’s during school visits and hosting clinics and signing sessions.

It was the first time in two years since the Magpies had visited this neck of the woods, following a break due to COVID-19.

Within the 48 hours that the Magpies had in Gippsland, they visited Traralgon, Moe, Churchill and surrounding towns, engaging with the youth of the community.

While in Moe at John Tabuteau Reserve, media had the chance to chat with new recruit, Dan McStay.

McStay spent nine years at the Brisbane Lions, interstate and away from his family – some of which live in Gippsland.

“Getting back to Gippsland, where I spent a fair bit of my childhood, coming down for Christmases and birthdays and these sorts of things, it’s great to be back here and supporting the local community and giving back,” McStay said.

McStay had plenty of support on the track, brining family members down to Moe, helping convert them into Magpies fans.

“Couple of Collingwood jerseys floating around… I’ve converted them all in the last couple of months which has been good,” McStay said.

“They used to be avid Brisbane (Lions) fans and now we’ve converted them.”

McStay recognised the impact that AFL clubs can have on rural communities outside of metro areas, especially growing up east of Melbourne.

“We just came from a school in Traralgon, and they were absolutely thrilled to have us out here in the community,” McStay said.

McStay reminisced of the time that Richmond came to his town when he was growing up.

“I actually remember Alex Rance gave us a fair bit of time…you remember those things pretty vividly,” McStay said.

“As much as you can give back and make a difference, it’s definitely memorable.”

McStay gave further insight as to what the players get up to during the community camps.

“We’ve got a little bit of a clinic going on here, a lot of black and white jumpers – which is great,” he said.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday, February 8) we’ve got a few more school clinics.

“It’s all happening, the boys are loving it, it’s always great to get back down this way, continuing to build that bond.”

McStay said he was looking forward to his first taste of Collingwood-Carlton rivalry, when the two teams face off in the preseason at Ikon Park on Friday, February 24.

Former Collingwood captain, Sale’s Scott Pendlebury, was also in town, getting a glimpse of local surrounds alongside McStay, for the first time in a while.

Pendlebury was nursing a corked leg, but appears to be fine going into the start of the season.

Collingwood also recently announced its 48th captain, Darcy Moore, after Pendlebury stepped down at the end of 2022.

Moore will follow in the footsteps of his father, Peter Moore, who captained the Magpies from 1981-82.

Swoop: The Magpies in full force with Latrobe City Mayor, Kellie O’Callaghan. Photographs supplied
All smiles: Brody Mihocek, Jamie Elliott and Jack Crisp signing jerseys of the Collingwood faithful.