AFL Round 6 – Richmond v Geelong: Get Kelly in the middle

Score a footy and Cats gear

Score a footy and Cats gear

I alight from the 75 tram and walk down the hill to the MCG on Saturday evening with the Geelong throng and a strong sense of trepidation.  My beloved Cats have started the season at 5-0 and their next three games are against quality opposition in Richmond, Essendon and Collingwood.  We surely have to lose one of those next three because if we are unbeaten after that then it is likely that we’ll still be unbeaten going into round 15 against Hawthorn, and if we win that …..  I digress.

Past history and form suggest we’re likely to be ready for Essendon (just to remind Thompson and Egan that they’re now at the lesser club – though they’ve been mighty this year with the way they have handled the unmentionable) and ready for Collingwood (they’re Collingwood after all), but I’m not sure about the Tiges.  As a seasoned Geelong supporter I should have overcome the thought that these are the games we lose, after all we’re not like that anymore.  The last six years have been a blissful ride of defying the history I grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s, we’re not going to drop games against thereabouts teams anymore, we’re going to hammer them and make them understand what it means to be elite – aren’t we?

As the crowd outside the G grows and I perch on a hemorrhoid-cold concrete block to wait for my brother-in-football arms, I watch the Richmond supporters.  They’re up and about tonight, drunk on the expectations of powerhouse success they can sniff in the near future.  They have Lids and Jack and Cotch and Martin – players that would be welcome at any club.  Their defence has been bolstered with recycled players, a-la-Sydney style, and their small forwards have a zip and zing to them that is exciting and tough.  They talk about the armed-robbery from Subiaco last week, the quality of the mullet that adorns their ruckman, the leadership of their old captain, but they still look over their shoulders as if it is about to be taken away from them.  As I listen to their meanderings I am struck by the sliding doors moment that has me on the other side of the fence to them.

For my fifth birthday my parents had bundled us into the Kingswood and we’d driven the 40 minutes to my grandparents place in Yarra Junction; a grand old weatherboard house on two acres of fertile soil that always had the greenest of grass and the brightest of vegetables.  Over the smell of the roast vegetables and beef in the wood-fire pot-belly stove my Grandmother, a one-eyed Richmond supporter who had been presenting me with hand-knitted black and yellow scarves and beanies for each year since my birth, sat me down in her chair and poured the acid on me; Richmond or Geelong – you have to make the choice today.  Through a stroke of luck, or through great planning on her part, it was round 2 and Geelong was playing Richmond at Kardinia Park.

I don’t remember much about that day; the scratchy radio sound as Larry Donohue kicking a bagful, a couple of running bounces by Bartlett, and the fact that Geelong never really seemed troubled by the Tiges.  I do vividly recall however my Grandmother tut-tutting at the radio, surprised that her Tiges were letting her down, willing KB and Clokey and Royce to get her boys home, but most of all I remember my Grandfather.

My Grandfather was a quiet man that did not say much unless you were asking about a plant he was tending or some wood he was chopping.  I have a picture of him taken around that time, his blue-checked flannelette shirt open to reveal a grubby white singlet and loose fitting overalls.  He’s leaning on a long-handled shovel in the middle of his veggie patch, his hair wild in the wind and a look of self satisfaction on his face.  Each time I look at the photo I can see the same look on his face as I turned to him when the final siren sounded.  He simply nodded and said “You’re a cat now.”

I look back on that day and I can’t thank the Geelong boys enough, especially with a team that contained the elder Hawkins and Scarlett, and such blue and white legends as the Nankervis brothers, Terry Bright, a young scratcher Neal, a young explosive wingman named Turner and the evergreen Sammy Newman.  I thank them for allowing me to taste the sweetest of sweet success, not once but 3 times, but also for the other players I’ve seen grace the hoops.  The likes of Bossy, Brunsy, the Christensen brothers, Jacko, Malarkey, Schulze, Toohey & Williams – Gazza, Bewsy, Bourkey, Billy, Couchie, Kenny, Bruce & Barry  – Barnesy, Benny, Buddah, Timmy, Menschy, Ricco & Sando – the Bizz, Browny, Ronnie, Colby, Oysters, Kingy, Mickey & Scholly (though he was called Nails in the outer near us).  We’ve always found a way to play the game the way it should be played.  It’s why Malcolm Blight will always be revered at our club, even though he tasted the ultimate defeat on three occasions, as well as Bomber and Scotty.  I remember all these people and know that the game I watch tonight, whilst looking remarkably different to the game these men played and coached, will still be played the Geelong way.

The players set-up after the toss and eye each other up ready for the battle.  Hunt to Lids is expected after Fremantle showed the way last week, but Good George* as the sub and Bartel forward are surprises – further evidence of how adaptable this team is.  With the umpires appreciated and the celebration of two absolute champions in Boris and Johnno, the game starts as expected with the two teams courting each other between the flanks, until the zip of Christensen and Motlop create havoc in the middle and two goals to Bartel and another to Stokes (what a brilliant start to 2013 for him) have us looking like we’re on.  And as soon as the thought hits the cerebellum, we’re not on; in fact we’re very off.  Skill errors going forward and unexpected hardness from Cotchin, Edwards and Grigg helps The Push Up King to his first, Riewoldt to his first and then TPUK’s second.  You have to admire players like TPUK with hearts bigger than their bodies.  They form part of the heart-and-soul of each club.  A goose-stepping Motlop, who steps once too far, is the only other highlight/lowlight until quarter time.  Tiges go into the short break with the lead and punters rip up their quarter-quad tickets.

We start the quarter thinking Knights can’t kick a goal from 50 on the boundary (what other reason could there be for leaving him unattended out there) – he proves us very wrong.  The Tiges have brought the enthusiasm from the end of Q1 into Q2.  We can’t get the ball out of our back-half, and when Lonergan runs under a ball, Riewoldt duly marks, kicks a goal and suddenly they are out by 16 points.  Part of me is remembering my pre-game thoughts, whilst the other part of me is conscious that we seem to be enjoying coming from behind in the 2nd, but Richmond look harder at it and it feels like we’ve not laid a tackle all night.  Edwards is everywhere, Martin is running hard and even McGuane is playing well and running around our blokes.

“Get Kelly in the middle,” my mate yells out after two Martin goals that pushes the lead to nineteen, and suddenly he’s there.  A massive tackle that buries Vlaustin under the MCG turf, followed by two more tackles, a smother, a swipe and we look harder around the ball; much harder.  He may not have the profile of a Selwood, the grace of a Bartel, and he can’t dance like Johnno, but when the hard bodies need to be called on, he’s there – a tackling machine.  Johnno wins a free and the ball is launched forward, only for Richmond to recover and swoop it out of … Stokes the pick-pocket has it, dances around a couple and slots it.  There is something in the air that has changed right there.  A minute later and Johnno is pushing forward again – he spots Stokes but the kick has too much on it and Stokes slips backwards as he tries to stop his momentum.  The ball is in the air and he is on his backside against Houli.  But then he’s up, he spoils Houli’s mark, beats him to the ball at the boundary, beats two other Richmond opponents there, weaves through the three of them, tightropes it down the line and shoots a missile of a handpass to Westy who coolly snaps between two defenders.  The atmosphere has definitely changed and the Richmond supporters around us can feel it.  The forward-leading pace of Billie Smedts surprises the Richmond defense and then the sheer brilliance of a deft tap from Bartel is missed by many, but gifts a beautiful running goal to Duncan.  Cats by 5 going into the long break.

Down in most categories except the scoreboard, I’m quietly confident at this point, and even more buoyed when I see Bartel line up behind the ball to start the 2nd half – our new quarterback since the retirement of the Great One.  Selwood and Taylor have been quieter than usual and Hawkins hasn’t sniffed it yet – that won’t last the game so there is only upside to come.  On queue, Taylor gets involved with a string of handballs off half-back and Selwood is streaming through the edge of the square and loading up from 50.  Duncan is clever enough to fake going for the mark on the goal line and the Richmond defenders can’t get around him to stop the Selwood goal.  As we’re celebrating Big Ivan limps off with an ankle and at the very next centre bounce Vickery smacks into Johnno’s head and comes up with a face full of claret.  Dancing Johnno is momentarily renamed to Hard As A Cats Head Johnno as Hunt tackles Newman to the ground a moment later.  As the umpire is giving a free and 50 to the Cats, WWF breaks out on the wing and Selwood and Newman are going at it.  Bring out the turnbuckles!  As the umpire begins counting them out Selwood launches into his signature Suplex move and the bout is over.  Selwood unanimous on points!!  Another 50 metre penalty later and Richmond have lost the plot in the space of 4 minutes.  A goal to Chrisso, probably our best on ground at this stage, sees Geelong 16 points to the good.

The Tiges gather to talk about it and regroup, mind you without a ruckman, and they nearly do.  A 50 metre penalty against Selwood gives Jack his 2nd but then an error by Grimes in the goalsquare has the ball sliding onto the ground in front of Blix’ foot – a little toe-poke (famous in Geelong history) and he has the first goal of his career.   Goals to TPUK, the classy Duncan who slots one from the 50 on the ropes and the run, McGuane, the dancing man himself (from the pocket of course), and a classic roving forward goal from Chrisso and the game has see-sawed enough for the Cats to hit the last break by 24.

Hawkins opens the last quarter with a bang and kicks two goals, icing the game (perhaps he is just warming up and is better not having the week off?).  Tennis begins and is momentarily interrupted as Dancing Johnno receives a Joe-the Goose and slots another and then the ice-veined himself, Mr Corey Enright, steps up and splits the middle from 45 on 45.  There is a slight lump in the throat as I watch every Geelong player run over to him and celebrate the goal.  I’m sure that if Scotty could run down those steps, get out there as well for a bum-pat, and be back in his box before the next bounce, he’d be there as well.

The final score and margin have a lovely symmetry to it; 20 goals kicked and a win by 44 points – beautiful.

DISCO TRIANGLE VOTES

5 – Allen Christensen

4 – Matthew Stokes

3 – Steve Johnson

2 – Corey Enright

1 – Shane Edwards

 

* Good George was named after a VFL game that I saw with Tony, my mate mentioned above.  He has the choirboy looks and we figured he looked like he sat up the front of the bus whilst George Burbury was the fifth member of the Beatles and a back-seat type of boy.  They were hence named Good George and Bad George.  Awesome to hear earlier today that Bad George had his comeback game in the VFL and kicked the lazy 6 – great future awaits both of them.

About David Treloar

Geelong supporter who graced the MCG and Waverley in the famous number 16 of the navy blues in Little League days - not my fault I played for Carlton - the old zone days. Nuggety back-pocket, or forward-pocket, one of the games first swingmen. Continually searching for the perfect beach, wave, woman, cigar, coffee or scotch - in no particular order!

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    Lovely piece, Dave. The reminisence of your grandparents saved it from being CatPorn.

  2. Richard says:

    BUDDHA one of the best I’ve seen Dave. How tough was he!!
    Always worried when Timmy Darcy lined up on Dunstall. He usually got a heap kicked in him on those outings.
    Ricco was a beauty as well, along with Big Baz Stoneham.

    But Benchie Menschie?? Gee, he was a worry although one time — v BrisVegas, I think — he was OK.

    Loved standing on the Moorabool Street wing/flank close to the big scoreboard. Still can’t get used to sitting down to watch footy. That’s what you do in the cinema or the theatre !!!

  3. Burkie says:

    Dave & Richard, Saw Menschy come off the benschy and kick seven against the Eagles at Geelong one day. Couldn’t believe my eyes. Then again I recall seeing him kick a handful against North at the G in what I think was his first game. He also passed the ball beautifully to Billy for his ‘monkey off the back’ goal after the siren against the Bullies in that 1994 final. Not a champion but honest as the day is long. Similar to the recently retired Leigh Brown.

    Both our Timmys (Darcy and Bluey) got touchups from Dunstall. Still, they weren’t alone. Great clubmen for the Cats over many years.

  4. Really enjoyed your piece David, for many reasons.

    CatPorn is an interesting concept, a label you’d expect from the Konradian dystopia at the end of the Nullarbor. We call it art over here (in our dystopia).

    Agree with PB on one thing: delightful depiction of your grandparents, especially your grandfather.

    I recall a Mensch-to-the-ruck second quaretr which turned a game v NM (at their strongest) – watched it in the middle of the night in Queensland.

    Very interesting trajectory the season is on.

    Thanks for the yarn.

  5. Dave Treloar says:

    Thanks for the comments gents.

    JTH – I think the NM game was round 1 1999 – it was the first live game I’d attended in two years as I’d been living in Brisbane. We were 7 goals down at half time, but Mensch turned it on after that. I vividly recall that game as we sat behind the goals and as Mensch rose in the last quarter to take a screamer in the goalsquare the Richmond supporter next to me rose with him and yelled “Mmmmmmenschy”. We won by a goal – it was the perfect game to welcome me back to live footy.

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