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Pendlebury: From surprise to superstar

Luke Mason  May 20, 2015 11:10 AM

CTV Flashback: Pendlebury's first interview Watch new captain Scott Pendlebury speak to CTV's Clinton Bown for the first time after his AFL debut against Brisbane in round 10, 2006.
Scott Pendlebury, during his days with Williamstown in early 2006. Photo: John Anthony.

Scott Pendlebury, during his days with Williamstown in early 2006. Photo: John Anthony.

One of Collingwood’s finest players is set to notch one of the most important milestones of his storied career so far.

Captain Scott Pendlebury is poised to play his 200th senior game against Gold Coast this Saturday.

Pendlebury will become the 35th man to play 200 games in the Black and White at just 27 years of age.

Perhaps the prototype of the modern midfielder, Pendlebury’s sleek, skillful and slippery style of play makes him one of the bona fide stars of the competition.

Began the year on a basketball scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport. Quit on the eve of the football season, and having not played football since under-12s, trialled for Gippsland in the U18s.

Improved rapidly and was selected for Vic Country in the National U18 Championships, where he averaged 17 disposals. Was a part of the Gippsland U18 premiership team in the TAC Cup alongside Dale Thomas, with Tyson Goldsack and Brent Macaffer also named in the squad. Was something of a surprise selection at pick five in the National Draft.

Impeded by glandular fever during the pre-season, but quickly made up ground for Williamstown in the VFL. Won a senior promotion in round 10 after he was named as an emergency in three of the previous four matches.

Debuted against the Brisbane Lions on a Saturday night at the MCG wearing the No. 16 jumper. Goaled with his first kick, marking a pass from his captain Nathan Buckley. Missed only one of the next 10 games due to illness.

Omitted for round 20 and remained an emergency for the final month of the season, including the Elimination Final loss to the Western Bulldogs.

He's come a long way since wearing the blue + gold of Williamstown in the VFL. #Pendles200

A photo posted by collingwoodfc (@collingwood_fc) on May 19, 2015 at 4:43am PDT

Surprised many with a definitive breakout season. Changed to guernsey No. 10 after Blake Caracella’s retirement. Averaged 18.9 disposals, 3.3 tackles and booted 20 goals across 23 games. Nominated for the AFL Rising Star after the round four loss to Port Adelaide.

Broke his foot minutes into the loss to Brisbane in round 17 but remarkably missed only two games. Enjoyed an excellent September, gathering 24 disposals against Sydney in the Elimination Final and 26 as the Semi-Final against West Coast went into extra time. Kicked the sealer in the win over the Eagles late in the second half of extra time.

Finished his second season as runner up to Travis Cloke in the Copeland Trophy, and finished second to Joel Selwood in the NAB AFL Rising Star.

Continued his improvement, averaging 22.5 disposals and was selected in the Victorian team in the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match. Elevated into the club’s leadership group in the pre-season.

His best match of the season came on ANZAC Day in round six, when he amassed 26 disposals and seven tackles against the Bombers.

Played his 50th game in round 19 against St Kilda, and again stood up in the finals, with over 20 disposals in both matches.

Began to attract more attention from the umpires, accruing 13 Brownlow votes. Gathered 30 or more disposals in eight matches, but didn’t have the scoreboard impact he may have liked (eight goals in 21 matches). Won a career high 39 disposals against Melbourne on the Queen’s Birthday.

STORY: Pendlebury prepares for game 200.

His importance to the side was underscored when he broke his leg early in the qualifying final against a rampant St Kilda, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Suddenly, Collingwood’s midfield had lost its prime mover, severely impacting upon its fortunes for the rest of September. Finished sixth in the Copeland Trophy.

A season to remember. Named in the All-Australian team (on the interchange) for the first time, polled 21 Brownlow votes, won his first ANZAC Day Medal in round five, and ran second in the Copeland Trophy. But none of this compared to his Norm Smith Medal in the Grand Final replay and his first premiership at the age of 22.

After an uncharacteristically quiet first Grand Final, where his impact (19 disposals, six tackles) was lessened by gastro, Pendlebury fought back in the replay (29 disposals, 11 tackles) en route to his Norm Smith Medal. Averaged 26.6 disposals and 5.5 tackles for the season and finished fourth in the Brownlow Medal.

Most players would be satisfied with a season like Pendlebury had in 2010, but the vice-captain took it to another level in 2011. Averaged 29.7 disposals in all 25 games (never dipping below 20 in a match), kicked 24 goals (including three in both matches against Essendon) and polled 24 Brownlow votes to finish equal third.

Confirmed his reputation as a big game player in averaging 34.3 disposals during the finals series, and was one of Collingwood’s best in the Grand Final loss to Geelong. Named on a wing in the All-Australian side and capped off his year with his first Copeland Trophy.

The silky smooth midfielder with enviable skills and evasive qualities was let down only by a mid-season leg fracture that robbed off four games. Started the year well and was averaging more than 28 disposals a game before his injury.

Came back against Geelong in round 16 for 36 possessions but his effectiveness was down. Fought back to win his second straight Bob Rose Award as Best Player in Finals after a stunning performance against Sydney in the Preliminary Final. Finished second in the Copeland Trophy and earned his third consecutive All-Australian honour. Signed a four-year extension early in the season.

Another exceptional season from one of the most driven players in the competition. Pendlebury did not miss a game for the third time in the last four seasons and averaged a career-high 29.9 disposals per game.

He opened the year with 30 possessions and a goal against North Melbourne and didn’t relent from there on.

One week later, the left-footer iced a famous win over Carlton in round two with a superb goal from 50m out with seconds remaining before putting in best on ground displays against St Kilda in round six (28 possessions and two goals) and Sydney in round 20 (35 possessions and seven tackles). He saved one of the finest performances of his career for the Friday night clash with Adelaide in round 16 when he collected a career-high 42 possessions, laid five tackles and kicked two goals (one with each foot).

The silky onballer had 30 or more disposals on 10 occasions and polled Brownlow votes in all bar two of those games. He entered the Brownlow count as one of the favourites and polled more than 20 votes (21 in total) for the third time in the past four years. Didn’t have his usual impact in the Elimination Final loss to Port Adelaide (24 possessions and five tackles) but because the third Collingwood player to win the coveted AFL Coaches Association’s Player of the Year Award.

By this stage of his career, most supporters had become accustomed to Scott Pendlebury churning out the big numbers and match winning performances.

It’s a fact that was reflected when he was named in his fifth consecutive All-Australian team in September, an achievement that capped off another stellar season.

Pendlebury became the club’s 46th captain when Nick Maxwell officially handed over the reigns on 29 January during a ceremony at 333 Collins Street in Melbourne.

He led the team out onto the ground for the first time in his own right in the NAB Challenge against Geelong – only he ran out onto Simonds Stadium while wearing the green substitute’s vest, reflecting the nature of the February fixture.

Pendlebury’s captaincy tenure began like a dream, only for it to quickly evolve into a nightmare outing at Etihad Stadium.

With the game just two minutes and four seconds old, Pendlebury kicked the first goal of the home and away season when he slotted one home on his left boot.

But his team could manage just four more goals in the 113 minutes that followed, and while Pendlebury himself did what he could with 26 disposals and nine tackles, his Magpies slumped to a 70-point loss.

The skipper helped steady the ship against Sydney, playing a critical role in the 20-point win on a night in which his leadership rose to the fore. He laid a game-high 10 tackles and registered a career-high 11 inside 50s, as well as kicking a team-lifting goal in which he and Maxwell combined to work the ball down the ground together by hand.

As the weeks progressed, Pendlebury’s form became a key driver behind Collingwood’s rise back up the ladder. He kicked three goals in the win over Richmond and helped himself to 30 disposals on ANZAC Day against the Bombers.

His consistency was perhaps the only bankable element of the Magpies’ form mid-season, as they tailed off after a strong start.

Pendlebury enjoyed a huge final quarter against West Coast in round 10, kicking a goal on the burst to help his side to an eight-point win, while he collected 65 disposals in the space of two defeats at the hands of the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn.

He laid an equal career-high 11 tackles against Carlton on a Sunday night in round 15 and dipped below 25 disposals just once in his final seven games.

The captain missed just one game, succumbing to a quad injury in the warm-up against Brisbane in round 21 when an errant Sherrin struck him on a cork.

Pendlebury began his second season as captain in fine style, helping his younger teammates achieve a 4-1 start with wins over Brisbane, St Kilda, Essendon and Carlton. He has already won 30 or more disposals in three games and was at his best in Collingwood's 75-point win over Carlton when he collected 32 disposals, won five clearances and kicked two goals.