Better your own socks…

I have no better description of Geelong’s win over the stodgy Saints than to say it was a bit like smelling your own socks; not a particularly pleasant experience but better than the alternative which would be smelling someone else’s.

The game had a peculiar feeling about it right from the start. The crowd was underwhelming and was therefore struggling to impose itself on a relatively benign autumn evening. It was as if the neither-here-nor-there weather was hanging over the MCG like a next morning beer fog giving those inside an ambivalence of monumental proportions. People seemed content to sit or stand without conviction. There were very few hunched over nervously in their seats contemplating the imminent battle and chewing finger nails back to the first knuckle.

And the Saints didn’t help things when the game commenced. Riewoldt, Goddard and Hayes tried their hardest to lift the contest up into the stratosphere of the ordinary, but were being crushed by a gigantic process that blankets and defiles the St Kilda game style the same way that, well, smelly socks in a lift desecrates the wholesome whiff of Calvin Kline For Men.

They play footy as if the purpose is lost to them. The ball is captured in their defensive zone with the same aggression and brutality that the Germans captured Poland and then moved forward in a complex and infuriating mixture of backwards thrusts. It breaks all laws of physics and the theories of momentum, never mind what it does to one’s sense of enjoyment. Ross Lyon seems to believe that victory is in the process of getting the ball to centre half forward, what happens after that is academic.

At half time the Cats were 1 goal somethingorother to the Saints two goals whatever. The crowd jeered as the players and umpires left the field. I interpreted it as a collective yawn. In fact I was so detached by the game that I got confused as to where the game was at. It blurred into a confusion of frustrations. I thought three quarter time was half time, I started to believe that the world is flat. I got vocal at the umpires more as an expression of grief for the direction of the game than anything else, though the fact that I had gone straight to the footy after an unusually large lunch probably didn’t help my countenance. My screaming was unedifying and probably crass but my grief was genuine. The combination of lots of beer and watching St Kilda, go together like a long haul plane flight and Valium.

Yes it takes two to tango and it could be argued that the Cats were partly to blame but I reject this contention. I reject it because it was the Cats who broke the game open. When fatigue started to take over (or perhaps the Saints players just got completely bored) the amount of free space increased ever so slightly and it was Geelong players who feasted on it. Three goals in about 5 minutes got the excitement levels rising. After trailing by twenty points the Cats suddenly trailed by only two. Ross Lyon’s solution? Keep strangling.

Once again it was Goddard then Riewoldt who tried to seize the Saints’ game out of the septic tank and clean it off. But not even they could stand the foul waft. Jimmy Bartel celebrated adventurous footy with a ripper goal from the boundary. Saints supporters might call it a lucky shot and perhaps it was but spirit and tenacity and positive thinking all help to make luck, just like eggs, sugar and flour make a good sponge cake. The Saints need to re-read the recipe book.

Lenny Hayes flashed in and threatened to give St Kilda a heart beat by goaling with a few minutes to go. Ross Lyon may have been sitting in the coaches’ box with his pen in his mouth rehearsing the media interview; you know the one, about the process and the boys just sticking together and how they hung in there and stuck at it and how many entries they got and their hard ball gets and…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

But the Cats would not let go. Once again a sense of adventure prevailed. Two young blokes had a say in things, Taylor Hunt and Mitch Duncan got their hands on the footy, Jimmy Bartel brought two Saints defenders down like Hercules destroyed the temple, Mooney saw Dasher Milburn on his own in the goal square and footy had a sort of victory over nonsense as the Sherrin was propelled deep into the grandstand.

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sorpranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.


  1. John Butler says:

    Dips, those aren’t the same socks you wore in the Stawell Gift, are they?

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    G’day Dips,

    You’ve written some great lines here.

    What about the smell of Steve Fahey’s socks from Vic Park? See his article for my reference.

    Can members of the crowd be substituted under the ‘concussion’ rule?

  3. JB – those socks were chucked away in anger in 1984. They’re probably still behind the toilets in the change rooms.

    Flynny – great idea the crowd substitution thing. They could have about 1000 people outside who are “on the bench”

  4. Dips,

    it is not often I have an alternate opinion to such an honourable Catsman but……I loved the game, I loved the result and I love the Cats.

    We have all been sucked into the super spectacle syndrome and have been conditioned to castigate the scrap and consider it crap.

    It was a game of footy with heaps at stake and we were all spoiled by the perfection that was the 2007 grand final and subsequently cringed.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we are the beholders of 4 beautiful premiership points that we were not expected to get.

  5. Phantom – I hear you brother especially regarding the result, but the game could not be loved. It was unlovable. The 2009 GF was a great game; close and tough and enthralling. This wasn’t until we kicked three in 5 minutes in the third.

  6. Dips,

    I missed the first two of the three in five minutes in the third.

    I had just got a text from a Saints supporter (Good evening Bill) and was cleaning out my message bank.

    Didn’t get any more communications. Can’t understand why?

  7. Rick Kane says:

    Good report Dips, and as PF said, some great lines. I think your point of the “benign autumn evening” setting the mood is spot on. I took the boy (Cats supporter) to the game and was surprised from Jolimont station all the way to our seats how subdued everything was.

    The game was blah ordinary, even after a few goals were kicked. The Saints style is a nuisance and nonsense but I wouldn’t let the Cats off that easily. Yes, they’re mighty and one knows to write them off at your peril. In 2009 they beat the Hawks after trailing by 30 point at three quarter time. Bartel was the saviour on that occasion as well. However, the cracks in their speed, precision and skills that started to be noticed late in the 2010 season were evident on Friday. No 29 will be sorely missed.


  8. Fair points you make Rick – I guess time will tell.

  9. Dave Nadel says:

    This is completely off the point but it is the only way I can send a message to Phantom.


    I got your email with your address. Unfortunately the Net has been down at our place for all but one day of the last two weeks. I can still access my current emails, the almanac etc. at work but I can’t get at any email opened on my home computer or transmit anything stored on my home computer. You sent me your address on the only day the Net has worked in the last two weeks and now I can’t get it. Don’t bother sending it again as I can’t forward you my thesis on line either until I have connection at home. I am sending you this so you know that I haven’t forgotten your request.

    In the meantime both my wife and I are having daily terse conversations with our ISP who tell us that the problem is with Telstra. I believe them. I have come to the conclusion that Telstra combines the arrogance of the Government monopoly it used to be, with the greed of the American Multinational that Sol Trujillo tried to turn it into. There probably are a bigger bunch of bastards running a company in Australia (James Hardie?) but Telstra are the worst I’ve dealt with.

    I will send you a copy of my thesis when gatekeepers of the Net allow me.


  10. Dave #9 – sums up St Kilda’s game plan pretty well.

  11. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Can sympathize with your frustration Dips. Watching StKilda is as excruciating as being pulled through a swamp by your pubes.

  12. Steve Fahey says:

    Well written Dips

    I was so appalled by this game that I included some scathing commentary on it in my report on the Pies’ win over Port. The word “stodgy” featured prominently and I am delighted to see it used again here.

    I am suggesting that there is an Almanac-led boycott of Channel Seven this Friday evening when the Saints again feature (unless of course you barrack for either the Saints or Tigers). If enough people tuned out and the ratings were down, it would send a message. Shame the World Cup is on Saturday rather than Friday night.

  13. Steve #12 – I noted your use of the word stodgy. I hadn’t read your piece before I used the word in my own one. It just seems to fit the Saints so well.

    I’ll watch on Friday night and give a little yell for the Tigers.

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