BRODY Mihocek has gone full Melbourne and he knows it. Almost a decade after leaving Tasmania to chase an AFL dream that looked further away the longer he was gone, the unassuming spearhead who just keeps kicking goals has now opened a cafe. 

Situated on a busy road in Hawthorn in a space that was once a rundown milk bar sits Whiplash, a suburban cafe where the buttermilk chicken sandwiches, pastrami bagels and flat whites are produced with a Collingwood flavour. 

Along with Nathan Murphy, Callum Brown and Jordan Roughead, Mihocek opened his new venture for business last week, joining forces with experienced hospitality operators Jordan Faulkner and Eamon Sheahan. 

Brody Mihocek and his business parters at Whiplash. Picture: Paddy Quay

The idea was the brainchild of Roughead – the key defender has quickly transitioned into life post-footy after being forced to retire last month – and experienced barista Faulkner, who were looking to open a takeaway-friendly venue in the wake of living through a pandemic that drastically altered the hospitality sector.

Like many good ideas, it snowballed quickly, formed over many coffees in the courtyard outside The Glasshouse at the Collingwood Football Club. Murphy jumped on board next and before long, Mihocek and Brown were signing on the dotted line.

"I've always enjoyed my coffee and always enjoyed my food. I've always wanted to be involved in a cafe. Nathan Murphy was doing coffee roasting on his days off last year and I was asking him about that. 'Roughy' (Roughhead) got to know 'Jordy' (Faulkner) and they were chatting and had this idea, looking for others to be involved and it grew from there," Mihocek told this week.  

Brody Mihocek on the tools at his cafe. Picture: Paddy Quay

"In our off-season last year, with all the lockdowns, it was something for us to do. We looked at a place in Cremorne that was similar and it would have been a good spot but that fell through. This one popped up. 

"A lot of the locals around here remember what it was like back in the day. It is hard to believe this is the same place. We gutted the whole thing. I got involved on the jackhammer and the power tools as the other boys didn’t know what they were doing. 'Roughy' had a sore shoulder at the time. It has turned out really well. Hopefully everyone likes the food and coffee."

Mihocek and Collingwood return to action against Greater Western Sydney at the MCG this afternoon for the first time since the Magpies upset Melbourne to record a fourth straight win in front of a packed house on Queen's Birthday.  

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The last time we saw Mihocek, the 192cm key forward emerged from a week where he was under an injury cloud due to bone bruising in his knee to produce one of the best performances of his career, kicking an equal career-high four goals from 16 disposals and 10 marks.

"I always thought I was going to play. I got through the week training. It hurt but the physios and doctors want to keep you off your feet, whereas I feel like I need to keep moving to function at my best," Mihocek said. 

"I had bone bruising on the inside and swelling behind my knee, but I did the main training session, got it out of the way, loosened everything up. When I made the call to play, I told Fly (coach Craig McRae) 'I'm going to play, you won't hear me complain about the knee again'. Felt good on game day and thankfully had a good game. It was an awesome day."

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Mihocek kicked four goals on debut against Fremantle in round 11, 2018, reaching that mark for the 12th time in his career. A bag of five has been within his grasp on a handful of occasions, but has eluded him. Something his teammates like reminding him of, even just before the first bounce.

"I'm definitely aware of it," he laughs. "It's happened a lot; I've had my chances to kick five. The Gold Coast game this year I was lining up for my fifth right in front and I was thinking about it – it's hard not to. I think Essendon I had four and 'Daics' (Josh Daicos) had the ball and he could have easily handballed it over the top for my fifth. Hopefully one day it comes. 

"Four is still a good day in my eyes, so is three. I’m not going out there trying to kick five. Pat Lipinski always says before a game, 'today is the day, five is coming'. He is jinxing me at the moment. One day it will come."

Brody Mihocek kicks a goal during round 13, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Mihocek’s rise from state league football to the big time is well known by now, but only getting better with age. Don’t forget he was playing in defence for Gary Ayres at Port Melbourne on weekends and driving a forklift, packing boxes and laying floors for a timber and flooring company during the week, before the Magpies changed his life when they swooped with pick No. 22 in the Rookie Draft at the end of 2017.

The now 29-year-old has played 91 of 94 games since making that memorable debut, featuring in eight finals, including the 2018 Grand Final against West Coast. He has transformed from a dependable key defender in the VFL to a dependable key forward in the AFL, where he has led the goalkicking at the AIA Centre in each of the past three seasons and now has 150 career goals on the board. Fair return from a speculative rookie pick.

Brody Mihocek looks to handball during Collingwood's clash against Fremantle in round 10, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"It is very hard to believe. I think about it a lot. The hundred game milestone is coming up, which is very hard to believe," he said.

"I thought coming in as a rookie it was a one-year deal and you can be out of there just as quick. I knew coming in at 24 I needed to play senior footy to stay at the club. The aim was to play and stay in. 

"Thankfully the body has held up well. I've missed three games due to suspension and a knockout and my partner had COVID; three completely different things that don't normally happen. If I hit the 100-game milestone at the end of the year – I'm already happy with my career – but I'll be over the moon when that happens. That will be the icing cake."

After finishing 17th last season – the lowest the club has ever finished – with only six wins, Collingwood underwent widespread change in the football department. Craig McRae replaced Nathan Buckley as senior coach and brought with him Justin Leppitsch and Brendon Bolton – two men with first-hand experience running an AFL program – plus other high-performance changes to go with a new president. 

Brody Mihocek and coach Craig McRae after Collingwood's win over Hawthorn in round 11, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Not many expected the Magpies to be in contention for a spot in the eight in the late days of June, but they are. Not only have they won eight games, they have also beaten most of the leading contenders – Fremantle, Melbourne and Carlton – standing up in tense games in front of massive crowds in primetime slots.

"I don't think there is a ceiling. We haven’t been thinking too far ahead. We've experienced it all from the Grand Final to last year. It was a big jump from playing finals to second last. We all knew that last year was a down year for everyone. It didn't reflect on what sort of team we were. We knew we had the talent and knew we had the fight in us to make finals," Mihocek said.

“This year the belief is we're going to go into every game with the belief we can beat anyone. We've shown that the last four weeks against top-four teams. Who knows where we'll end up this year? To play finals and take a few big scalps in the finals would be nice. We'll see where we end up. We're all confident that we can do well.

Mihocek will always be a Tasmanian at heart, but it doesn't get much more Melburnian than playing footy and running a cafe.