Like looking in the mirror: Daicos boys ready to match dad's flag feat

AFL Grand Final coaches spend much of their time in the lead-up to the big game making sure their players are keeping things as normal as possible.

But there's a couple of young men Collingwood's Craig McRae knows this week he'll have to worry about less than most Grand Final novices. For obvious reasons, the Daicos household knows very well how this week works.

Josh Daicos is closing in on 25 now, and Nick close to 21, but the Daicos boys are both still very happy to live with mum and dad Colleen and Peter. And this week particularly, that could prove very handy.

"I think dad's been trying to kick us out lately; we haven't been doing the chores," Josh chuckled in the euphoric Magpies rooms after the nail-biting win over Greater Western Sydney last Friday night. "But we're loving it at home, and yeah, to have mum and dad there is amazing.

"Nick and I for sure will be asking dad questions, even just in our downtime trying to relax with him. He's so excited, it means so much to him, so I'm sure he'll have a few little pointers for us, but I'm also sure not too much will change."

It's not like Josh and Nick are nervous types, anyway. After all, it was the former who helped wind down the clock in those anxious final few seconds against the Giants, ushering the ball to safety towards the wing, then gathering cleanly and hitting a seamless pass to Will Hoskin-Elliott to make certain of victory. And Nick returned as emphatically as you'd expect of the budding superstar even after six weeks on the sidelines.

But Grand Finals are something else, and unlike the young pair, their dad, in this sense at least, actually has been there, done that.

In 15 seasons and 250 games for Collingwood, Peter experienced the lead-up to and participation in a Grand Final three times.

There was his first for the Pies, in 1980, having only just turned 19. Another the following year, when Daicos senior, trying to get some valuable sleep on Grand Final eve, had to contend with some emergency service vehicle arrivals in the neighbourhood which may or may not have been lured under false pretences in an attempt to disrupt the young Collingwood star's preparation.

Then there was the famous 1990 Grand Final, and Collingwood's breaking of a 32-year flag drought, when Peter spent the night before the game at his own parents' place, trying to avoid any possibility of a repeat.

That proved a fruitful plan, Daicos kicking two critical steadying goals for the Pies as they overcame some early jitters to roll right over the top of Essendon that October afternoon and win one of the game's most famous premierships.

But with all due respect to their famous, much-loved old man, Josh and Nick are now intent on creating their own slice of Daicos football history.

"Absolutely, that's what it's all about," Josh nodded. "Dad was able to get one in '90, a couple of boys here got one in 2010, but the time is now to add one more to the collection. It would be amazing for Nick and I and all the boys just to be a part of something so special and, really, just top off all the hard work in the right way."

In the hubbub of the post-preliminary final Collingwood rooms, Peter was, not unusually, one of the more animated of the army of Magpie family and friends savouring another Grand Final berth for the Pies.

"Oh, I'm over the moon," Daicos senior beamed. "Look, they're hard to get into. Some blokes don't play in any finals, let alone make a Grand Final.

"They're not just made over a pre-season, they're three or four years of work, you know, the evolving of the team, the topping up, the maturing. You rarely come straight from bottom to top, that's just a rarity. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work, so it's just magnificent."

With just a few days and one game to go for Collingwood to again reach the summit, Peter is chanting one important mantra to himself. That this week, when it comes to his sons and football stuff, less might be more.

"I've got better with that," he concedes. "They get their eight hours a day of footy hit and all the coaches and everything, so you've got to have the ability to just break away from it. You've really got to create that bit of a void for them to just give them a break, it's really important. And as a family, we've all got better at that.

"I mean, I love my footy news, but I know a lot of that stuff gets regurgitated and gets repeated. I think we'll just take the weight off the kids, and in our own private time we'll be buzzing at home, but we'll keep the lid on it when the boys are around."

Both young Daicoses have an endearing easy-going nature about them that you already know will stand them in good stead over this next hectic seven days or so. But even after close to 50 games for Nick and over 100 now for Josh, there's still stuff about the biggest couple of games of the year which you can't appreciate until you're in them.

For Josh on Friday night, it was that roar from the 'Collingwood Army'. "They get us over the line in those close games, just that energy they had even when GWS had all the momentum," he said. "It's unbelievable and it really feels like each week it's growing louder. We're really feeding off it."

And perhaps to that end, however subtly, dad might also this week just sneak on another replay of the 1990 Grand Final when his two sons are home. Or the aftermath at least.

Because while that involved the breaking of a 32-year drought -- not the somewhat shorter 13-year wait it's been this time for Collingwood -- the post-Grand Final win noise made by Pie fans packed into the MCG that October afternoon was something to behold.

Hearing what it's like for two more Daicoses on the brink of also becoming premiership players might be motivation in itself for this whole famous Collingwood family.

You can read more of Rohan Connolly's work at FOOTYOLOGY.