AFL Round 23 – Geelong v Brisbane: Catland

Score a footy and Cats gear

Score a footy and Cats gear

Walking down the High Street hill towards Kardinia Park, we pass a guy who’s spent the last week holding up a ‘Tony Abbott is a tool’ sign. At the lights after the bridge, a mobile billboard cruises by, telling us not to trust Kevin Rudd.

Here in Catland, it’s all about next week’s big contest – or more specifically, whether we’ll get to play our first ever final at home at Kardinia. If we lose and Freo doesn’t, we won’t, but if we both lose, it won’t matter and we will. “Except it’ll be shite if we lose,” says brother Shaun.  This is true.

We take our seats in the Gary Abblett stand and bask in the sun.  The Cats are kicking to the river end, and we have high, hubristic hopes of seeing a goal-fest down our end in the last quarter.  First, though, we get to see McGrath getting the first goal of the day from a Cats’ turnover, just to rub it in.

Not to worry, it’s straight down the other end where Captain Selwood scores a massive… point. Now Corey Enright with a cracking… point. Stevie J! Point. When Motlop gets it to Chappie we keep a firm lid on it, but he makes no mistake and gets some serious love from the crowd.

Pods and Varcoe score and it looks like we’re settling down. Sure, Brisbane get a couple more, and points come our way more often than not, but Johnno jags a goal and a long floater from Caddy – which we give up on, it drifts so far to the left –  swings back and squeaks through. We’re looking ok into the first break. Nothing fancy, but we should do the job.

Kelly puts us further ahead at the start of the second – we hope it’s the beginning of something great but it’s not. In the distance we see Lions kick goal after goal and we’re not amused as the Cats respond with a vast array of points.  Fortunately they’re kicking them at our end so I get a good view.

Geelong’s trailing by six points at the long break and we’re all a bit flat.  Making it slightly easier to bear are periodic scoreboard updates revealing St Kilda is killing Freo.  I reckon the Cats boys have spotted them too.

With finals contention on the line it’s clear the Lions badly want to win, and they’re playing with a freedom and intensity that’s usually our hallmark. We’re a bit stilted – careful, maybe just trying to avoid mistakes, but it’s not working.

The second half sees the belated implementation of Shaun’s Law, which states that no matter where you sit at the football, there’ll always be someone who gives you the shits.

Three Cats fans have moved into the seats behind us, and one immediately starts sharing his ‘analysis’ at peak volume.  This may explain why Selwood and Harry both miss their shots and McGrath doesn’t.

Finally Jimmy scores a free and a goal off the back of it. It’s not catching though – while the Cats are stringing together some great plays, they end in points – before long we’ve got 17 of the blighters. We’re starting to wonder if the Cats even care, now they know Freo is being flogged mercilessly.

“We’re clearly playing better than them,” shouts the new bloke behind us, boldly ignoring the facts.  As if to celebrate, Stevie J kicks it casually out on the full.

The Cats regroup, happily, and we’re heading into the final break 20 points up.

“YEAH – YOU’VE GOT A REAL MAN ON YOU NOW – HOW DOES THAT FEEL?’’ comes the ear-splitting shriek from behind.  We have no idea to whom or what he is referring, but I reckon they would have heard him on the broadcast.

The last quarter is nothing short of horrifying.  We know we’ll finish second on the ladder, we know we’re in the finals, we even know that, AFL willing, we’ll get a home final next week.  So why do we even care that suddenly the Lions are clawing back the lead?  Why do we care that we might lose when really, there’s nothing on the line?  Why do we want to throttle the bloke behind us who, as McGrath and his mates inexorably close the score gap, bellows gleefully at the top of his lungs, “WE’RE IN BIG TROUBLE NOW!  WE’RE IN BIG TROUBLE NOW!’

Of course, the answer’s obvious – it’s pride.  Pride, and the fear that the best is behind us.  That we’ll go into the finals unable to beat a bottom eight team.  No matter that this bottom eight team has been fighting like they’re playing in the finals already – if we can’t beat them, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of September.

When Selwood proves why he’s the best Captain in the league with a last ditch goal, the crowd exhales as one.  Then Lisle takes a mark inside 50 and gets them within two points with minutes to go.

I’ve given up smoking.  Is it fair I’m on the verge of a heart attack now?

When Lester snaps at goal in the dying seconds, it’s almost too much to watch.  But I do, and so see Chappie hurl himself forward and touch it on the line.  Jimmy belts it long and the siren goes.  God help us all if the finals are anything like this.

But as we meet up sister-in-law Denise and ten year old John, who’ve been sitting in the stands opposite, we’re reminded by the blinding grin on John’s face that to be in the finals at all is a great thing.  If a near heart attack is the price, it’s still a bargain.

 

GEELONG                       5.5     7.11   12.20   15.22   (112)                  

BRISBANE LIONS        3.3      9.5      11.6      17.9   (111)          

 

BEST 

Geelong: Bartel, Chapman, Stokes

Brisbane Lions: Rockcliff, McGrath, Golby

 

Umpires: McBurney, Ryan, Kamolins (umpire Kamolins replaced at half-time due to injury)

 

Official crowd: 27,467 at Simonds Stadium

 

Comments

  1. Michael Viljoen says:

    If you felt that bad after a win, I’m scared to ask how you feel after Ross Lyon’s successful visit.

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