Cats Play Keepings Off in the Cold

by Dan Lonergan

When Brisbane won those three flags in a row, they relished playing anywhere including what had previously been one of their least happy hunting grounds, Kardinia Park. They smashed Geelong there in 2001 and 2002 on their way to premierships and it was a case of men against boys in those two encounters.

Wow! Times have changed with the shoe firmly on the other foot now with Brisbane liking a trip to Geelong at the moment about as much as a possum likes daylight.

It makes matters worse when the conditions are cold and wet, which is what the Lions have experienced at Kardinia Park, the last few occasions they’ve played there.

I remember one icy Saturday afternoon in the middle of June in 2004. It was one of the coldest days ever with the temperature hovering around the 5 degree mark, if that. The Lions were outplayed and there were funny scenes of players sitting on the bench during the game wearing beanies and two or three layers of clothing.

On the weekend, Brisbane ventured down the highway again and were confronted by the coldest day of the season so far. Right from the word go, when fellow ABC commentator, David Parkin mentioned that the Lions players were reluctant to enter the ground for the pre-match warm -up, they never looked like it.

This Geelong side is amazing and has to be rated as good as those famous Lions sides of 2001 to 2003 even without two premiership additional cups. The Cats don’t give many teams a look in most days and that’s what happened last Sunday.

They played keepings off with Gary Ablett having it 42 times. If he doesn’t get it Joel Corey, Jimmy Bartel, Corey Enright, Paul Chapman and Cameron Ling (when he’s playing) do.

In the ABC commentary box, we were on Gazza 50 possessions watch. There’s no doubt with the form he’s in he will get to the half century and probably do it on a regular basis. He provides highlights everytime he gets the ball, whether it’s his skillful way of avoiding a tackle, although he was claimed twice on Sunday, his use of handpassing, his pinpoint kicks and his finishing.

What about that goal in the last quarter? He wasn’t even looking at the goals. He was running towards the gate of the construction site. That topped off a great day.

Geelong as a team virtually doubled the number of touches Brisbane had. They do overuse the footy at times, but generally the Cats’ play is a joy to watch. David Parkin described them as the best stoppage team he’s ever seen with probably the best ever onball division. That’s fine praise from a man whose been involved with this great game at the highest level for almost 50 years. Sorry Parko, I didn’t mean to show your age!

For Brisbane, it no doubt will be hoping at the end of the season when the clubs are asked by the league to put their fixture requests in that they can come up with a good case why it shouldn’t play at cat park anytime soon.

The Lions can’t take a trick with the weather down there in recent times and are made to look second rate against this formidable lineup. For the rest of us, it’s a pleasure to watch Mark Thompson’s team in action. Even if it is cold and wet, they are providing plenty of fun on the field and the café lates from Drew Morphett’s favourite mobile coffee shop add to the occasion.

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo9, Anna8, Evie6. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

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