AFL Round 22: Geelong v Hawthorn – the mind is a prison

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You would not have liked being around me at half time of the Hawks vs Cats game on Saturday night. I wasn’t at the game. A combination that included recovering from the flu and having to work over the weekend meant we would not be at the G. As Jackson, my slightly-too-stuck- in-facts- and-stats-Catsloving-son, said before the game, “Well, this’ll be the first game we have missed since the 2008 GF Dad”. I sneezed.

By half time I was spluttering and bellowing, chewing the furniture and generally acting my shoe size, not my age. I was not happy. It was as if every demon voice that lurks just behind good fortune stepped up to the plate and announced they were here to stay. Boy, they said, have we got a lot of catching up to do.

My son, grinning his stupid head off, was first told to wipe that silly grin off his dial, then to shut up, then told to spend the rest of his life in his room. I don’t know if my head was spinning around Regan like but I do know I sent bile hurtling from the depth of my liver’s bum.

This was it. This is where it all falls apart. For some reason I had Brereton’s dickhead pre-season appraisal of the Hawks starring me straight in the eye. He said we’d finish 5th. We were too old, too slow. He did add that if Cyril’s pegs stayed healthy we might do better. Was he psychic?

Tonight, as the Cats had ripped us a new one in the Second the Emperor was stripped. Butt naked. We were exposed for what we were; an ageing side that injuries and time had finally caught up with. Deep down, that argument has been ticking away all year. It raised its scarred visage against the Roos. Tonight it tap-danced across my all too tired demeanour.

The pain was intense. It felt like I had been cut, like real bad. Even though it was (to quote Mercutio) not so deep as a well, nor as wide as a church door, it was enough. I was peppered.

So Jackson copped it. The dog copped it. My better angels copped it in the neck with characterless platitudes like “She’ll be right”. “It’s just a game”. “There’s always next week”. Whatever. Man they do go on and on and tonight they just made no sense.

Then I uttered the words every fan thinks but mostly we do our best to contain. “Well, we’re gone. We’re stuffed. We’re pretenders”.

Immediately I uttered those fateful words my wife, Vicki, shot back, “Gee, you wouldn’t make for a very good coach”. She had been waiting all week to say this. Last week our daughter played in the U18s Girls footy Grand Final. At three quarter time they were 26 points down. Vicki had said things looked pretty hopeless. I had replied, “Gee, you wouldn’t want to be their coach”. (They won!) The payback was worth it. Sure it stung. But it also shook me from my cataleptic state. Kinda.

Then things got better. A whole lot better. Ten goals better. Well, four points were kicked first. And then Catter Hawkins marked and ran into an open goal. That put the Cats up by 33 points. 33? Cyril!

At the twelve minute mark of the Third the Hawks took it up a notch. Lewis, the Hawks best player over the last five weeks (probably the season) lead the charge with a booming 50m kick down Hale’s throat and we were away! A minute late Lewis puts one through the big sticks himself. Langford and Birch followed before the controversial touched-on-the-line-was- it-or- wasn’t- it-a-goal by the mighty Mitch. Goal umpire says no. Nevermind.

Hale and Langford finished the quarter with more goals. None better than Langford’s steely focussed goal after the siren to … wait for it … put the … (this is suspense) … Hawks in front going into the Last! The Hawks smashed the Cats. The ratcatchers got caught in their own trap. The Hawks turned a thirty three point deficit into a four point lead in less than twenty minutes.

My mind was spinning. My heart was pounding. My glass was overflowing. My night was alive with the wonder. There was still 30 minutes to go but no one was under any illusion about the game now. The Cats looked spent, as if they had just been eaten by a cyclone.

The Hawks kicked another five goals in the Last, including a neat snap by Sewell (welcome back Sewelly) through a congested pack to seal the game. The Hawks won by 23 points and in an emphatic manner.

This was the Hawks best win against the Cats since the 2008 GF. This was a sweet victory. One to savour. The game was won with a mixture of the best of our senior brigade, the best of our solid 100 game players and the best of our up-comers: Spangher to Ceglar to Langford – goal!

Interestingly, my son Jackson was more circumspect than me, maybe even more mature. Maybe that comes from having had the upper hand for so long. Maybe, like Scott in the post-game presser, Jackson had already moved on, thinking about how the Cats would come at the Hawks in the finals. Maybe. For now, there’s team song to be sung, a sad Catter to put to bed and a happy Hawker with a mind at ease … for now.

Our votes: Team effort!

Comments

  1. Grant Fraser says:

    Rick – was it just me or was this a game devoid of exhaltation until the final bell? The memory of Greg Louganis wearing #3, and the Big Ox in #26, scoring after the siren to snatch defeat from victory has caused irreparable damage. At no prior moment could I savour any sort of joy anticipating victory…although I must qualify that a by by saying I did look around for Jeff in The Enclosure with 30 seconds to go, wanting to see that dopey self satisfied grin (how we love him). It ain’t September, yet so nothing really matters – but gee it is close.

  2. RK – I didn’t find anything funny about Saturday night. But if I really went looking, perhaps the humour lay in the changing mindset of Hawthorn supporters; from rationalised melancholy to outrageous joy. A few things I heard from them:

    “Has Geelong ever won a game without cheating?” (early in the game when a few umpiring decisions went against them).
    “Losing tonight won’t be such a bad thing.” (also early in the game).
    “F*** I hate Geelong!” (early in quarter 2)

    Later in the game I heard
    “If we can beat Geelong so easily we can beat anyone.”
    And my favourite,
    “F*** I hate Geelong. You beauty!!!”

  3. Gregor Lewis says:

    ” This was the Hawks best win against the Cats since the 2008 GF. ”

    PRICELESS !!!!!!!!!!!!

    (an excl.pt. for every one that wasn’t a win.

    This lurgy curdled Hawker covered in mucoid slime salutes you.

    grl

  4. Grant Fraser says:

    Dips
    All “right thinking” Hawks supporters could not possibly hate Geelong the team or Geelong supporters. Our two mighty teams provide the shining example, more than once a season, of the best points of our wonderful game. What we do hate is losing over and over and over again – same result, myriad variations. As I wrote above, the scars run unbelievably deep so please forgive expressions of relief here and there as a means of therapy…we only got to celebrate the Grand Final win for about 2 days, so there is a lot of backed up emotion.

  5. Grant – spot in. The games are always tough, tight and skilled. They are a great diversion from the multitude of boring, keepings off, tackle fests we see most weeks.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    The gap between the top sides and the rest is growing by the season considerably there is not the talent around to have 18 sides thank goodness for the hawks , cats , swans , power and dockers from a crows supporter . The games re the top sides go up to another level

  7. Rick Kane says:

    Thanks guys.

    Dips, you pretty much described me as I watched the game.

    I’ve heard from two separate friends (one Cats, one Hawks) that they both opened bottles of red at half time, one to celebrate, one to console. By the end of the game the Hawker was enjoying a fine vintage, the Catter couldn’t finish the bottle.

    Dips, I reckon there were Cats supporters who were as exclamatory in their sentiments about the Hawks as the game went on.

    Grant, my moment of real joy was when Sewell kicked the goal through the pack. I roared.

    GL, mmm, yes, I’d like to say I meant that line. I think I meant to say it was our best performance. But if you’re happy with win, we’ll leave it as is.

    Grant/Dips, I hate Geelong. I really do. Okay, I admire them as well.

    Rulebook, Dips – yep, they do serve up pretty good games (I’m sure hospitals and insurance companies love these games).

    And now we head into Rd 23 … here we go again!

  8. Grant Fraser says:

    Rick

    C’mon … surely our deepest passions are a product of our formative years aka the 70’s and 80’s – hence the loathing of Essedonia and the Silvertails (who just happen to have been our opponents/besters during the Golden Years…waa waa waa). I will qualify that, however, by saying for me the Judases from north of the Murray have this year filled the vacant spot on the podium.

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