For any football fan, Grand Final week should be the pinnacle of supporting your club. When the Cats are on TV I ride every bump, curse every maggot and scream and yell and damage the furniture for two hours
while my beloved Cats do battle. Normally I am quite a mild individual but I turn, dare I say it..feral when my Cats lace up. However being a Cats fan, my only memories of Grand Final day are of extreme disappointment.
are events that happened to other clubs. During the 70’s and 80’s it
was always the same teams too…Richmond, Carlton, North Melbourne,
Hawthorn, Essendon. In 1987 the football landscape changed with the
introduction of the ‘interstate’ sides and the best footballer I have
ever seen wore the Geelong colours for over a dozen magnificent
seasons. The efforts of Gary Ablett Snr, Barry Stoneham, Garry Hocking,
Paul Coach, Billy Brownless and Mark Bairstow saw that the Cats were a
feared combination under the innovative coaching of Malcolm Blight who
eventually found success elsewhere. Four times we went to the well and
four times the Cats sat on the ground as the other team hoisted the
cup. Then the jokes started ‘Who plays in the Grand Final: Geelong and
the Winners’ and ‘What’s green and eats Cats: The MCG’. Cats fans
learnt to chuckle half heartedly while attempting to divert the topic
of discussion to the upcoming cricket season.
In 1989 it wasn’t
all that bad. You could tell that Geelong were a team on the rise and
Hawthorn were simply awesome as was Gary Ablett. 1992 was the critical
loss. We were top that year and had a five goal lead during the second
quarter. To this day Peter Matera is at a loss as to why Mark Bairstow
went and stood next to him rather than the more fleet of foot Peter
Riccardi who had done so well on him in previous matches. In 1994 we
were remembered as a Grand Final flop instead of the team that beat
powerful North Melbourne and Carlton with an injured midfield. We had
nothing left when we faced the most powerful Eagles team I have ever
seen and were duly pumped despite Brownless’ magnificent first quarter
leap that raised our hopes and our hearts.
The 1995 Grand
Final was one of the worst days of my life and I say that without
exaggeration. I watched the game with some friends and the lady of my
life (who still is today) who barracks for Carlton…I was so
confident..I went to the Richmond prelim and the Cat buses had a sign
on them ‘THIS time’ with a strong and determined Cat climbing our
stairway to heaven. The Blues had a ninety point lead at one stage and
our hosts put on Roy and HG’s commentary. I had to leave and just be by
myself for a couple of hours and I still can’t tolerate Roy and HG to
this day. The satire was all to accurate about Geelong’s ‘magnificent
comeback’ to boot five goals during junk time as the Blues started the
You have to strike when the iron is hot and
the Blight-Ablett era was over and we had nothing to show for it.
Subsequent premierships by a Malcolm Blight coached Crows side that
both came from nowhere to win back to back flags not surprisingly
offered little solace.
Under Mark Thompson Geelong has come
again. This decade’s model has a Gary Ablett but not a Gary Ablett Snr
but this breed of Cat has a defence and it’s done it’s apprenticeship.
This year’s Cat is a highly decorated breed but it will be worth
nothing if this breed of Cat isn’t the best in show come Saturday at
5pm. If ever you’ve wondered where I have been this week, well I have
been pondering the many sins of the past and the remarkable ethos of
our opponents Port Adelaide. Port Adelaide are a club that exists to
win premierships. Yes, don’t we all but this club holds that up as a
motto to live by, not just a mission statement for the suits in the
boardroom. This club won a premiership in less than ten years while my
beloved Catters have waited over four decades for the same privellige.
Yes, privellige – I don’t buy this ‘Geelong deserve to win this flag’
that some supporters have posted online recently. We have to earn it.
I believe the Cats can win tomorrow as long as the players
take the lid off. I believe the players kept the lid on against
Collingwood and this was almost fatal. If both teams play their best it
will be a brilliant game and Geelong will win. If we for any reason go
into our shells then Port will sense this and pounce. With no
retirements Geelong will be a force for next two to four seasons. This
can be extended if the players accept salary cuts to stick together.
This is why they must win tomorrow…for you have to strike when the
iron is hot.
People who know me reckon I will cry if we lose but
why would I do that? I’ve seen it too many times. If we win, then I’ll
be crying but it will be tears of joy.