With no footy, the tragics are stirring. The Border Mail's ANDREW MOIR set out to find how one fanatical fan is coping.
Wodonga's Brenda Seckold is the first to admit she doesn't take herself too seriously - but Collingwood is a different matter.
On a scale of passion one to 10, Brenda Seckold is a 15.
During any Pies' game, there's no visitors allowed. It's a bit like isolation, pre-coronavirus.
"With the 'iso' over the recent two weeks of school holidays, it's given me permission not to have to worry about if someone knocks on the door and interrupts," the primary schoolteacher said.
"I've been able to watch all old YouTube clips of the older players like Alan Didak, Gavin Brown, even right back to the old Rene Kink, the old hairdresser.
"Oh, this is a bit embarrassing now that I think about it, I'm even looking at old drafts, 'OK, he was taken at number three', and looking at trades, 'how did our player match up'?, that sort of thing."
Brenda might have a lend of herself at times, but you can't hide the passion.
You can hear the excitement in her voice as she races from one Collingwood topic to another.
"I was at a game with my brother Stephen once, he's a Pies' fan too, I was staying at his place, we were getting thrashed and I was going off and he said, 'I'm going to the bathroom'," she said.
"He rang me from the train and said, 'you have to find your own way home'.
"My side of the family is very competitive. It's not a strength, it's something we're trying to work on, we're bad sports, when we lose, we're bad sports, shocking."
But family disputes aren't uncommon - even from friendly fire.
"If we lose on a Friday night, to be honest, my husband (Mark) and I probably have a fight," she said.
But he's a Collingwood fan too, so how does that work?
"Yeah, but it will be his fault that we lost. By Saturday, yeah, I'm alright, Sunday, I'm good by then," she laughed.
Then Brenda returns to the classroom at Albury's St Patrick's Parish School.
"I'll put money on one little cherub has brought in a box of tissues," she chuckled.
"Once I even got a towel so I could wipe away my tears.
"It's pure joy when they run up to me screaming, 'my team beat you, ha ha ha'.
"I say, 'I'm going to give you 60 seconds and you can say whatever you like (within reason of course), then let it go'.
Both the students and Brenda love the banter and understand it's in jest.
Their parents decide they might join in as well.
"I even have some of the mums and dads give it to me down at gate duty," she said.
But one time, years ago away from school, a few of the kids saw another side to Mrs Seckold.
"I have a clear memory when they (my two girls) were young, Mark and I were watching and it was pretty ugly, getting really close to the TV, the heart rate goes up," she recalled.
"Then my eldest one came in and said, 'mum, you're scaring my friends'."
Brenda's brother Graeme Fallet is a St Kilda fan, but he was also a VFL/AFL umpire from 1986-1991, who officiated 14 AFL games.
His little sister was always on his case to give her beloved Pies a good run.
"Many a time, many a time, but he just said, 'no way' and, if anything, he found it quite challenging, he loved it when the Pies lost, he despises Collingwood," she said.
"Much to his disgust the only grand final St Kilda has won was against us in 1966 and he would have only been six, so he couldn't really remember it.
"I don't know why, but this brings me great delight (laughs loudly)."
Brenda's first memory of a grand final was the 1990 decider against Essendon.
She couldn't get a ticket, but still travelled to Melbourne for the excitement and atmosphere.
"I went to the Victoria Hotel in Collingwood," she said proudly.
"My girlfriends went shopping, but there was no way I was missing the game.
"We beat Essendon (breaking a 32-year premiership hoodoo) and you feel, at the time, you're making friends for life, although I haven't seen those Pies' fans since I was celebrating with them that night (laughs)."
Brenda would have to wait just over a decade for her first 'live' grand final and it was a gut-wrenching loss to the all-conquering Brisbane Lions in 2002.
It was also a 'white-knuckle' thriller against St Kilda in the 2010 draw, but it was way easier on the heart in the replay the following week.
"In the first grand final against St Kilda, I'll never forget Stephen Milne allowing that ball to bounce because if he had caught it, it would have been a whole different scenario," she said.
"The game was that close, you know when you can feel your heart pounding out of your chest?
"I knew we were going to win (the replay), we were smashing them, but you still have that uncertainty that you don't trust St Kilda, they're still going to come back.
"I've replayed it over and over and over in the school holidays, that one where Heath Shaw smothered Nick Riewoldt, that was a game changer.
"I was sitting next to (brother) Stephen, yes, the one who left me at the MCG, and I'll never forget his words, 'we're home'.
"We shared a look of pure love for our beloved Pies. Graeme, the St Kilda brother, was not seen nor heard from till January, 2011.
"Then we hit Melbourne and like I was in my early 40s, not the place for a 42-year-old woman to be out (laughs)."
Brenda has her favourite players, like Didak and Dane Swan, but woe betide anyone who deserts the Pies.
"When (Dale) 'Daisy' Thomas left for Carlton, I can't stand 'Daisy' Thomas now, it's like you're a traitor, how could you want to leave our club because we're so united?," she offered.
"It's that community and being a part of it. I think, 'why would you ever want to leave that'?"
Outspoken Collingwood president Eddie McGuire is a polarising figure, while coach Nathan Buckley had plenty of fans wanting to shove him out the door a few years ago.
"I love Eddie, I love Nathan Buckley, even though I don't agree with some of his decisions, I'm sitting back thinking I'm a great coach," she said.
"It's just a nice sport to be involved in, involved in the club."
And when footy returns, the Collingwood member will be a fitter fan too after starting a training program, with other friends, in isolation of course.
"We listen to (band Survivor's) 'Eye Of The Tiger', any of those motivational songs, but I also get them to listen to a podcast of Collingwood, they're not happy to do that," she said.
"Now I'm only joking here, of course, but I want to feel like the players do when they become fit, getting closer to know how a professional athlete trains.
"I only came up with that because I can't watch the footy."
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And just like all passionate fans, Brenda believes if you're not with us, then you're against us.
"People who don't know me will think, 'this woman is delusional'," she laughed.
"You know what, I don't really care."
Spoken like a true Pies' fan.