No gimmicks needed

PLANS for a Star Wars-theme in the AFL's seventh round this year are ludicrous.

The Black and White Army celebrated beating the Blues both times last year

For May 4, a day declared International Star Wars Day, the AFL marketing department has toyed with the idea of releasing merchandise in club colours.

T-shirts featuring Carlton coach Mick Malthouse in a Darth Vader mask and declaring "Nathan, I am your father" in reference to Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley have been mooted.

The AFL does not need gimmicks to promote matches between its greatest rivals.

Footy fans and those who cheer for the Blues and Magpies know how deep-rooted the rivalry between the clubs is.

Last year the build-up to their showdowns featured heavily on Malthouse.

Collingwood's premiership coach of 2010 had sensationally joined the Blues after a long and fruitful reign with the Magpies.

The Black and White Army celebrated beating the Blues in both contests in 2013.

This year it's one of Collingwood's favourites, Dale Thomas who is now in navy blue.

Thomas is not the first player to switch from Collingwood to Carlton, or vice-versa.

The 70s included Collingwood's legendary goalkicker Peter McKenna leaving Victoria Park for Carlton's turf at Princes Park.

Golden Square's Ray Byrne left Carlton to play for Collingwood.

Byrne's career of 222 games included playing for the Magpies in the grand final losses to the Blues in 1979 and '81.

Kept busy these days as regional manager for the Bendigo Bank Pioneers Football Club, Ray Byrne knows plenty about the Carlton-Collingwood rivalry.

The first VFL match I witnessed featured Byrne playing for Carlton on Anzac Day at VFL Park in Waverley in 1975.

On that occasion the Blues were against Essendon, the club my dad has supported for years.

Whoever won became the team I would support.

The Carlton line-up included Byrne and other Bendigo recruits such as Rod Ashman, Greg Kennedy, Trevor Keogh, Eric Pascoe and Brian Walsh.

Essendon beat the Blues by 17 points before more than 77,000 fans and I soon knew about the rivalry between the two.

In AFL-VFL history there is no bigger rivalry than the Blues and Magpies.

Carlton and Collingwood have met 247 times. The ledger stands at 125-118 in favour of the Blues, and includes four draws.

The great clubs have met in six grand finals.

Collingwood won the first in 1910, but the Blues reigned supreme in 1915, '38, '70, '79 and '81.

Carlton versus Collingwood. 

There's a message that will get footy fans to the ground, no matter the form or ladder position of two proud clubs.

Marketing plan on Star Wars theme spaced out

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