Craig McRae celebrates Collingwood's win in the 2023 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

IF THE Jeremy McGovern-Nathan Vardy-Liam Ryan-Dom Sheed passage of play late in the 2018 Grand Final will always haunt Collingwood supporters, then the Nick Daicos-Scott Pendlebury-Daicos-Jordan De Goey sequence late in the 2023 premiership decider will forever soothe.

A freakish, all-time great goal by Sheed cost the Magpies that day, and equally a historically brilliant goal by De Goey, with extraordinary help from Daicos, propelled them to a famous win last year.

Subjectivity is always in play when rating football's greatest moments, but there is no doubt the Daicos-De Goey effort is already entrenched among the game's greatest Grand Final goals.


It's right up there with the front-and-square Jason Akermanis in 2002, Paul Chapman (after the Matty Scarlett toe-poke to Gary Ablett) in 2009, any one of Darren Jarman's five in the last quarter of 1997, Michael Long in 1993, Tom Boyd in 2016, Adam Hunter (after a Daniel Chick smother) in 2006.

In Collingwood supporters' eyes, it is probably a tie with Peter Daicos' goal from the right pocket on the boundary at the Punt Road end of the MCG in the 1990 Grand Final.

Collingwood coach Craig McRae happily relived that goal with recently and reminded everyone to add Steele Sidebottom's long-bomb goal minutes later to the best-ever list.


"I haven't watched this much, I might have to go back and watch it," McRae joked. "That's probably the most-watched bit of play that I've seen. This club will remember that for a long time. The context of it all was we were down, we knew what we needed to do.

"And then to have two exceptional talents in a bit of play, how that happens, over the head, like, wow. Slow it down, watch it, how many players could do that? Then Jordy across his body running that way, kicks it that way from 50 metres through the middle. Add the context of the day, and the time, and the heat, then the occasion …"

Asked to return his mind to the goal kicked only moments before by Brisbane's Charlie Cameron, which had taken the Lions two points clear with 5min 30sec remaining, McRae said:

"It's go mode, my head goes, 'let's go, we've got to go now'. 'Pendles' (Scott Pendlebury) gets things organised on the field. And we had rehearsed it. We knew what we needed to do, obviously it was about doing it. There's a level of calmness, as much as you can possibly imagine at that moment. The heart is still pounding, but we knew what we had to do.

"It will go down along with Steele's goal in Collingwood folklore. We were on the bench debating (the Sidebottom shot). Is he going to go to the top of the square? What was it, he'd kicked nine goals outside 50 in his career? He's played 300 games. The go-for-it mentality is something we have tried to install, and that can express itself in many ways."

Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury celebrate a goal during Collingwood's win over Brisbane in the 2023 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Daicos, in his second season, injured his knee in round 21 against Hawthorn. He did not play again until a one-point win against GWS in a preliminary final and his absence saw him lose his grasp on the Brownlow Medal, when he was overtaken by winner Lachie Neale in the final round of the season.

Daicos' performances in the preliminary and Grand Finals were crucial to the Pies' win. He polled in official Norm Smith Medal voting.

"He is fast becoming a generation player, and I'm reluctant, with him starting his third season, to make too many big statements," McRae said. "If you come and watch him train, you see a guy who is at another level of preparation. I don't think I've ever seen anyone train as good as him.

"There were a couple in Brisbane who could rival him, Simon Black comes to mind. But this young kid looks bigger and stronger and the GPS doesn't lie. He's done more work than anyone in our group. So, here we go. That doesn't guarantee anything. But to the eye it has been impressive."