AFL Grand Final: Victory belongs to the people of Geelong

By Ramon Fowler

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that the MCG is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the founding spirit of our game is alive in our time, who still questions the sheer magnificence of Australian football, then the 2009 AFL grand final is your answer.

It’s the answer told by tackles that were executed with an intensity and a frequency that this game has never before seen, by players who endured broken noses, broken hands and torn hamstrings because they felt in their hearts that this game must be won, that their contributions could be the difference.

It’s the answer revealed in the endeavours of midfielders and defenders, small forwards and talls, Geelong players and St Kilda players, Selwood, Hayes, Bartel, Goddard, Rooke, Reiwolt, Taylor, Jones and Ottens; players who sent a message to their teammates and supporters that they had given not a thought to their own safety or the collection of individual accolades.

This is, and always should be, the signifying spirit of our great game.

It’s the answer that led the players who’ve been encouraged to believe that the modern game has no place for the recklessness and hardness and sheer brutality of yesteryear to put their bodies on the line and bend their wills toward victory, no matter the cost.

The game could have gone either way, but today, because of the grand and gallant deeds delivered by those in the blue and white hoops in the defining moments of that foul weathered day of destiny, greatness has come to the Geelong Football Club.

Geelong in victory were magnanimous, St Kilda in defeat were defiant – as well they should be.

St Kilda fought long and hard in this grand final. And they fought longer and harder than any team throughout the home-and-away season. The toil and sacrifice they must have given in this season we cannot begin to imagine. The game itself is better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless team of 2009.

We should congratulate the St Kilda players, and we should congratulate Ross Lyon, for all that they’ve done this year. And we should look forward to playing against them in the years to come in what promises to be a rivalry to last the ages.

But victory deservedly belongs to Geelong. It belongs to the 22 men who rode out the storm of September on the sodden MCG turf. It belongs to the honorable men who sat in the grand stand, having given their all to the club this season but who will, sadly, not wear a premiership medallion for their efforts. It belongs to the coaches and administrators who sought to aid and arm their young warriors with their own hard-won wisdom. Above all, it belongs to the town – to the people of Geelong.

For me, this premiership will be remembered as much for the many courageous and skilful grand final feats as it will for the stories and narratives that were woven through this truly epic season. But it will also be remembered for what it meant to those closest to me.

I will remember the phone call that came right at game’s end from my grandmother. She is one of the Geelong faithful who endured a 44-year premiership drought, a time when Geelong did not even play in a grand final for 22 years and then went on to loose 4 grand finals in 7 years. Her voice was hoarse from yelling at the telly. She said she shed tears of joy but that her stomach was still in knots from the stress and the worry of the last quarter.

I think about all that she’s seen throughout those lean years – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on and continued to believe: Yes we can.

I will remember the text message after the game from my thirteen year old brother holidaying in Bali. He wanted to tell me what an idiot my Dad looked like walking around in 35 degree heat in his Cats scarf.

I think about the all the times I’ve heard Dad tell the story of watching Geelong loose the 1967 grand final as a young boy at the MCG – and all the times he watched his video cassette recording of the 1989 grand final – because up until 2007 the best he had ever seen Geelong do was lose in grand finals. But despite all this he took his Cats scarf to Bali because he believed: Yes we can.

I will remember the cars banked up along Ryrie Street and Moorabool Street after the game, horns blaring, blue and white flags waving, people in the streets singing, friends being arrested for Fev-like behaviour. They were celebrating because they had been vindicated in their unyielding belief: Yes we can.

Three years, three grand finals, two premierships, two Brownlows, 65 wins from 75 games. This Geelong team is now one of the true greats. The question now is whether we can become the greatest team of all.

2010 is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

Yes we can.

Go Cats!

Comments

  1. pauldaffey says:

    Nice report, Ramon.

    I especially like the hints of your father’s Cats madness.

    But what was your father doing in Bali on a weekend in which the Cats were playing in a grand final?

  2. Very good. You show the sheer relief and euphoria at a breakthrough flag and what it means to fans in a deep, personal way.

  3. Ramon, nice one.

    My dad (who was a Tiges supporter)took me to the 1967 GF. I also went to the 1989 one when we came second again and swore never to go again because the pain was unbearable.

    Then came the next losses but I finally plucked up enough courage to go to the 07 one with my son. The first time he watched the Cats they won. For me it was over 40 years of going intermittently to Cats games and never seeing them win. We shall (did) overcome.

    I am become addicted to winning. It is a very potent high. Go Cats.

    (Nothing wrong with your dad either. A Cats scarf in Bali on Grand Final day sounds just fine to me.)

  4. Ramon – yes we should acknowledge the loser. Without them there is no battle. But the Cats were superb.

    One of my brothers was in South America on GF day (I think Lima) and had a terrible time trying to explain to the locals what it was he was trying to find on the sports channels. Alas he missed the game but got score updates on the internet.
    An American bloke saw my brother jumping up and down as he read the final scores and asked him why he was so happy. My brother said he felt sorry for the bloke that he didn’t know Aussie Rules. Imagine a life without it? I even feel sorry for our fellow citizens in the rugby States.

    We should be enormously proud of our club for coming up 3 years in a row – huge effort.

    Go Cats

  5. Nick Kossatch says:

    Loved reading your descriptive piece. Great stirring stuff!
    I’m a Power supporter too!

  6. Callum O'Connor says:

    Magnificent!
    Effortlessly yet lovingly portrays how much is at stake on GF day.

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