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Let Nick Daicos Keep the 35




Collingwood’s Nick Daicos has now officially requested that he be allowed to keep wearing the number 35 – the number his father, Peter, made famous through a glorious 250-game career from 1979–1993.

That man who inherited the number from him in 1996 was Simon Prestigiacomo, an unglamorous key forward transformed into a dour full back. Presti, as he was known, was a battler early in his career, but under Mick Malthouse’s tenure (2000–2011) evolved into one of the premier defenders in the league.

Going into the 2010 grand final against St. Kilda, Presti was carrying a groin niggle. Although he passed a fitness test, he still didn’t feel right and withdrew his name from selection. His understudy, Nathan Brown, came into the side, got to play in two grand finals, and won himself a premiership medallion.

Not many players would do what Presti did. Most would take a painkilling jab and try get through the game. Presti recognised this was a risk. His opponent would’ve been Nick Riewoldt – a relentless runner. If Presti wasn’t at his best, or if he went down, it could’ve exposed Collingwood to St Kilda’s star forward.

The Collingwood Football Club decided to honour Presti’s act by bestowing the number “35” upon the first draftee ever year. This was intended to immortalise what Presti had done, and teach that draftee about selflessness and sacrifice.

Nobody can question Presti’s character, and this piece isn’t intended to besmirch his act, or Collingwood’s intention. But the motivation behind it is fatally flawed.

Are Collingwood saying that the only player who’s meant to learn from Presti’s act is their first draftee? What about the other draftees? Are they just ignored? Of course not. But this shows that the rationale doesn’t hold up to examination.

If Collingwood truly want to honour Presti, they could create an award in his name.

For example, Collingwood have the Darren Millane Perpetual Trophy Memorial Award for best clubman, and the Gavin Brown Award for commitment to the team. These are given out on Collingwood’s best and fairest night. You could add to it the Simon Prestigiacomo Award for Selflessness, or something similar.

Depending on his availability, you could even ask Presti to mentor all the first-year players. You could create a squadron of junior members named after Presti. There are plenty of options that better recognises what Presti did than throwing the number 35 around.

Here’s something else to consider: the way Collingwood presently use the 35 means that no other player will ever play 100 games in it. Surely the best way to honour Presti (and Peter Daicos before him) is to allow a player to forge a career in the number, and add their name under theirs on the “35” locker.

Nick Daicos handballs.

Nick Daicos handballs whilst being tackled by Dean Kent. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Instead, at best we’ll get to see a player wear it for the whole season, which’ll be rare (Nick Daicos the obvious exception) given most players will be 18-year-olds struggling for consistency. At worst – as occurred when Jay Rantall and Matthew Scharenberg wore the number – we don’t see it at all at AFL level.

The only argument that has any possible merit is that giving it to Nick is unfair on Josh Daicos.

Drafted in 2016 with Collingwood’s last pick, Josh originally wore number 26. He swapped to 7 in 2021. If Nick can have the 35, then surely Josh should’ve also been offered it?

Well, yes and no.

Josh never got to wear the 35 at all. The first chunk of his career was in 26. The cynical side of me says the club asked him to change to 7 to mitigate the fallout from trading Adam Treloar and antagonising a whole generation of fans wearing his number. So, Josh was given 7. But he never had a claim on 35.

Surely if Josh is okay with it – and you’d imagine he’d have to be if Nick is openly declaring he wants the 35 – then the club should be fine with it, too.

I appreciate the motivation behind why the club are rotating the number, but there are better ways to honour Presti’s sacrifice, and better ways to honour the number, too.

Let Nick keep the 35.





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