AFL Grand Final: Chappy’s heroics help Cats win a pearler

By Josh Barnstable

It’s that day again. The one day in September that we all speak of. That one day is here. After a whole season of football that started in February, it’s time to decide which is the best team of the year 2009.

Will it be St Kilda, back in the Grand Final for the first time since 1997 and competing to win its second ever premiership, and first since 1966? Or Geelong, who dominated the previous two years but won only one premiership? The bookies say Geelong, the punters say Geelong, and the tipsters say Geelong. I say draw.

The last time these two sides played, in Round 14, you couldn’t split them until Michael Gardiner took a big pack mark and goal with a minute on the clock to give St Kilda a breathtaking victory, 14.7.91 to 13.7.85. He kicked 4 goals that day, while the Steve Johnson and Brad Otten-less Geelong started a rocky venture towards the finals.

The Cats have a line-up that is unchanged from the team that smashed Collingwood by 73 points in the Preliminary Final last week, while the Saints have included the experienced Sean Dempster ahead of Robert Eddy. Dark clouds surround Melbourne, but the rain doesn’t come.

I wake up early to watch the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast, and I’m very happy to see Lou Richards getting the applause he deserves. I watch the rest of the crap that comes with Grand Final day, and eagerly await the 2.30pm start. A friend texts me, asking if he could come over. I suppose so, so I take 10 minutes out of watching the Pre-Match entertainment. We get back and it’s time for the game to start. C’mon draw!

Things start evenly, with the ball spending most of its time in the Cat forward line before Max Rooke capitalizes on a tackle and free kick. He goals from outside 50 for the first. Cam Mooney follows up with a mark and big goal from 45m out, and he may be on today, Geelong by 12 points. Brendon Goddard kicks the first for the Saints, but Joel Selwood kicks a ripper from a stoppage. Lenny Hayes goals, followed by Adam Schneider, and the Saints lead by two points as the siren sounds for quarter time, 3.2 to 3.0. Hayes is on 11 possessions while Jimmy Bartel is on 9.

The second quarter begins with the inclusion, Dempster, kicking a goal from a free kick, taking the margin out to nine points. The Cats fire up though. Shannon Byrnes goals from the goalsquare, Gary Ablett kicks a goal from a free kick, Tom Hawkins gathers and snaps a goal that hit the post and Paul Chapman snaps a goal out of the middle at the restart from the Hawkins goal. The margin is 12 points, and this will give the Cats great confidence heading into half-time, with the siren a couple of minutes away.

The Saints produce something extraordinary though. Clint Jones grubbers a goal through from a stoppage, followed by a scramble in the goalsquare with Justin Koschitzke kicking a goal off the ground that Darren Milburn protests he touched. He complains a bit too much, though, and Schneider is rewarded with a free kick from the goalsquare, kicking the third goal in two minutes for the Saints as they take a six point lead into quarter time, 7.7.49 to 7.1.43.

The Grand Final Half Time Sprint starts, and young gun Mike Pyke makes a fool out of himself by tripping up as the gun fires. Young ruckman from the Saints Rhys Stanley wins it though, and I’m surprised to see a 200cm player win a sprint when against the likes of Wade Thompson and Brad Dick.

The third quarter begins, and Mooney starts well with a good mark and goal. Nick Riewoldt marks and goals, finally getting on the board. Chapman snaps his second, cutting the margin to one point. Leigh Montagna snaps a good goal from a stoppage, taking the margin out to seven points as the three-quarter time siren sounds, 9.11 to 9.4.

I’m looking forward to the final quarter. Yet again this match will be decided in the final minute like last time, and fittingly we won’t know the result of the year until the last moment. The Cats get a good start, with Hawkins kicking a goal after a great pass from Chapman. Time goes on, and the result hangs in the balance. A flying shot from Rooke is touched on the line by Steven Baker, who ends up wrapped around the goalpost. That’s determination. So is Brendon Goddard, who’s nose is wrapped up in a bandage after breaking it earlier in the game. When the camera zooms in on his nose, it’s a gruesome sight to see. Luke Ball is also wounded, with a cracked nose.

But the best story of the day is Chapman. After pinging the hamstring in the first quarter, he couldn’t be stopped from continuing the game. He got his hammy taped up, iced, and returned to the field and kicked two crucial goals, but none was as crucial as the one late in the final quarter. From a stoppage 5 metres out from the Geelong goal, Chapman gathers from Travis Varcoe, evades a Saints defender and snaps a high ball that floats over the two big sticks, giving the Cats the lead by six points. Only a few minutes remain, it’s time for the Saints to stand up. A long season that saw 20 wins from 22 games, it’s starting to mirror Geelong’s season last year: near perfection in the home and away season, but stumbled on the most important day of the footy calendar.

The Saints will the ball forward, but can’t make anything of it. The Cats play keepings off, they kick the ball forward, the Saints have lost the will to fight, and Rooke takes a mark, 40m out from goal. The siren blares, but I can’t hear it for all the cheering I hear instead. Geelong players collapse on the ground, and I think it’s fitting that the Cats have won by six points, the margin the Saints won by in Round 14. But Rooke decides he’ll take a shot at goal, and with no one manning the mark, he kicks the ball along the ground, watching the final nail in the coffin bounce through, extending the winning margin out to 12 points, 12.8.80 to 9.14.68.

After the past two Grand Finals that have yielded a score of 35.42.252, the Cats finally brought their kicking boots, kicking 12.8, with 7.1 coming in the first half. The Saints will rue their missed opportunities, with Schneider kicking 2.3, Stephen Milne wasting chances early in the game, Koschitzke failing to have an impact, Riewoldt not bringing his hands to the game and the complete lack of skill from hard-runner Raphael Clarke.

As the rain teemed down, it was the Cats that were more accustomed to it. The Saints need more games at the MCG, and should ask the AFL why teams like Adelaide, West Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, Fremantle and Port Adelaide had more or equal amount of games at the home of football.

Chapman wins the Norm Smith Medal, and rightly so. I didn’t think he had a chance, especially after doing his hamstring in the first quarter, and deserves another medal for courage. His final goal was the game-breaker, but it was what led up to that will be talked about for years to come. With the ball floating through the air to the Brownlow Medalist Ablett in the middle of the ground, Zac Dawson spoils in a great effort, and the Saints have the ball bouncing their way. But Matthew Scarlett, running full steam-a-head towards the ball, toe-pokes it through the air onto the run of Ablett, who then drives the ball inside 50, where a stoppage is the result and we know what happens after that.

But we know the Saints will be back next year, and I hope they win it in the next few years; the greats of ’66 and the long-time supporters deserve one more premiership as most of the people that witnessed that one flag will be nearing the end. The image of Riewoldt weeping, Ball crying and Baker despairing will push them next year. It’ll be the image of the St Kilda season.

But for now its Geelong’s moment. They are Geelong, the greatest team of all.

St Kilda 3.2—7.7—9.11—9.14.68

Geelong 3.0—7.1—9.4—12.8.80

Goalkickers:

St Kilda-Schneider 2, Montagna, Riewoldt, Koschitzke, Jones, Dempster, Hayes, Goddard

Geelong-Chapman 3, Rooke 2, Hawkins 2, Mooney 2, Ablett, Byrnes, Selwood

Best:

St Kilda-Gram, Hayes, Goddard, Ball, Jones, Schneider

Geelong-Chapman, Taylor, Rooke, Ablett, Bartel, Mooney, Hawkins, Blake

Crowd:

99,251 at the MCG

Votes:

3: Paul Chapman (G)

2: Harry Taylor (G)

1: Max Rooke (G)

Comments

  1. Damian Watson says:

    Apparantly Andrew Lovett isn’t wanted, well at least the Lions don’t anyway.
    Which club do you think will pick him up?

  2. Michael Allan says:

    Adelaide. Maybe Sydney.

  3. Josh Barnstable says:

    Hmm seems i’ve made a terrible mistake. Now i’m copping all the emails haha maybe move it to one of Danni’s reports and see if we can get 1000 comments LOL.

    Brisbane were really keen on Lovett, dunno what’s happened. Maybe he’ll go to North or Geelong, he was supposed to go to Geelong last year.

  4. Michael Allan says:

    He wont go to Geelong. They have salary cap issues.

  5. Josh Barnstable says:

    Hawthorn maybe? Or Port Adelaide, Essendon could get Burgoyne and Port will get Lovett

  6. Josh Barnstable says:

    Anyway i’ll talk to you guys later. Are we done with our interview Michael?

  7. Michael Allan says:

    lol no I asked a question on Steve’s fixture but you havn’t answered we can continue tomorrow. I don’t have many more.

  8. Michael Allan says:

    I thought of that but if you remember from roun d 1 Port Adelaide sopecially Chad Cornes and Brogan hate Lovvett.

  9. Josh Barnstable says:

    Well you never know, Brogan and Lovett might be best of mates. Lance Picione went to North Melbourne after a short career with Hawthorn, and in his last season at the Hawks he had his head split open by a wild Jess Sinclair, so when Picione moved to North there was speculation that there would be a grudge held between the two but they became best mates.

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