Geelong Era at an End

 

2007

Coming off an horrific 2006 season, and with coach Mark Thompson given the last year of his contract to turn things around, Geelong launched an aggressive and ruthless campaign to win the flag and break a 44 year drought down at Kardinia Park. Characterised by daring, up-the-middle, play on at all costs, all out attacking football, the Cats dominate ’07. Losing only 4 games for the year before destroying Port Adelaide in a record breaking Grand Final, from which the South Australian club has never recovered.

 

2008

Geelong continue to dominate the home and away season, losing only one game (to Collingwood) put down as an aberration, and are tipped as unbeatable favorites for back-to-back premierships. A brilliant performance by Alistair Clarkson’s Hawthorn using a brand new rolling zone tactic (not to mention an unprecedented number of rushed behinds, leading to a rule change by the AFL) deny Geelong a second premiership.

 

Many rush to declare Geelong’s dominance of the AFL at an end. Mick Malthouse comes out and declares Geelong still the best side in the competition, saying “they’ll beat pretty much everyone in the competition, whether they beat Hawthorn, that’s another question” *quoting from memory, words to that effect.

 

2009

Geelong put to bed the question of whether they will beat Hawthorn, and begin the “Kennet Curse”, by besting Hawthorn in the Grand Final rematch Round 1. They continue unbeaten for 12 rounds before meeting the also undefeated Saints in a brutal Round 13 thriller. The Saints look set to play the perfect season until Essendon get the best of them late in the year, followed by North Melbourne the next week. However there were only two sides in 2009 and the Cats meet the Saints in another brutal, down to the wire contest. Eventually a bit of Matthew Scarlett brilliance breaks the deadlock and the Cats claim a second premiership in three years.

 

2010

Geelong continue to dominate proceedings throughout the year, along with Collingwood and St Kilda, the three teams being a class above the rest of the comp. Come finals the Saints get the jump on Geelong thanks to a whistle-happy umpire disallowing a match winning goal in the last 30 seconds of the game. Geelong are forced to play the extra match and spank Fremantle in a semi-final before coming up against a rested and roaring Magpies outfit who blow them out of the water and go on to win the flag.

 

The rush to declare the Geelong dynasty at an end had several false starts throughout 2010, including one commentator during a patchy first quarter. Geelong went on to thrash their opponents and the quote became a talking point in Thompson’s post-match press conference, where Thompson hit back strongly at the suggestion the Cats were on the fade. 18 and 7, whilst being down on the utter domination of the previous three years, was still good enough to finish second on the ladder a mere two points behind eventual Premiers Collingwood. But the Prelim final thrashing at the hands of the Pies brought on the next wave (and the most legitimate one) of questions as to whether Geelong still had it in them to dominate the league. Serious questions were being asked as to whether Geelong would have the pace to go with Collingwood and the younger sides of the AFL in the year to come.

To compound things further; Thompson quits as coach with a year left on his contract and Gary Ablett Jr (Best On Ground in his final match for the club, the infamous Prelim loss) leaves to captain the new Gold Coast expansion team.

 

2011

“Too Old, Too Slow” is the mantra of the unbelievers as they defy Geelong to continue to dominate the league. New coach Chris Scott and the Cats do some defying of their own, producing another brilliant season and shaping as the only team with the ability to challenge Collingwood, who lose only twice during the year, both times to Geelong. The second loss comes in the last round of the season. With ladder positions set in stone the game is declared “irrelevant” but there is nothing irrelevant about a 96 point thrashing, which is what Geelong dished out to the Magpies on the eve of the finals. A warning the unbelievers would have done well to heed. Geelong and Collingwood meet in the Grand Final that had to be. The game is brilliant and even to three quarter time but Geelong run away from the Pies in the fourth and claim their place as one of the greatest teams of all time with a third flag in five years. The response to the unbelievers mantra becomes, “Too Old.. Too Slow.. Too Good!”

 

2012

A patchy start to 2012 sees a resurgence in the doubters. Surely now Geelong are past it. Surely now their era is at an end. But the second half of the season sees Geelong find brilliant form with wins over the form sides of the competition, including a ninth straight victory over the Hawks thanks to a goal after the siren from Tom Hawkins. The Cats shape up as a serious September threat, nearly snatching a top four berth at the end, but are rolled by a Ross Lyon disciplined Fremantle, inspired by a six goal, best on ground performance from Pavlich.

 

And again the unbelievers cry that Geelong are done, that they will fall away now, that Chapman and Corey and the rest should retire. The Geelong Era is at an end, comes the sweeping declaration once more. You think they’d have learned by now…

Comments

  1. Zaccman – how true. I’m looking forward to the next few seasons.

  2. And each time the Cats have lost a final, it has been to a new application of a strangling type of defensive strategy. The first half of last week reminded me a lot of the first half against Collingwood in 2010.

    So the past 5 premiership have been split as so:
    – attack as the core strategy: 3
    – defense as the core strategy: 2

    If Hawks win this year, is their current game plan built on attack or defence?

  3. Pete – the Hawks game plan is going the knuckle.

  4. You’re right Dips, but then they are pretty well protected in return. At least Guerra is not out there. He snipes every chance he gets and then squeals to anyone and everyone if he gets some back.

  5. Haha I was pretty sure I only saved this as a draft until I could check the question marks as I was writing from memory.. but anyway..
    We’re definitely down off last year but I wouldn’t say we’ve fallen away. Couple of close results swapped and we’d have finished in the four.

  6. Tell you what Zac,check the big question mark – the one hanging over those Sleepy Hollow Millionaires circa 2013. Last year was the Dead Cat Bounce. And I know you can only beat who you play – but have a look who you played.

    Therein hangs another huge question mark. Now it’s hanging over Visy Park.

  7. Geelong have had a reasonably good 2012 year considering the 2011 retirements (Milburn, Mooney, Ling, Ottens and Blake) plus the long term injuries to Varcoe, Vardy and Menzel.
    Geelong lost Saturday’s elimination because of better coaching by Ross Lyon and his assistants, especially the team defence of Mundy, Barlow, Fyfe and Hill at the ball-ups against Geelong’s best clearance player Joel Corey plus the team defence of Dawson, Johnson, Silvagni and McPhee against Hawkins and Podsiadly. The tactical and strategic coaching of Chris Scott and his assistants was poor for both this game and the season. Chris Scott has done a good job at managing player fitness, but has not shown that he can teach football and develop a game strategy. Geelong had a good year in 2011 because of the players motivation and experience and Scott’s management of player fitness.
    Geelong have a good list with a number of promising young players and will continue to be a top eight team, but unless Scott can improve his tactical and strategic coaching, they may struggle to be a top four team.

  8. Mark – very true. One of my big frustrations with Thompson was his refusal to make tactical adjustments on game day. There’s something to be said for sticking to your guns, but when your guns are missing on Grand Final day it’s time to pick up the rifle and try something different.
    Re 2013 – the young blokes are coming on, Duncan is turning into a gun, and there has got to be a transition. I don’t think we’re going to see the same sort of domination for the next few years but the whole competition has evened out. Geelong will find their way back to the four.

  9. Zaacman, sorry for jumping the gun and posting while the ??? were still in place. All fixed now with your final version. Thanks.

  10. Having watched 3 and a half finals so far, the common theme (unsurprisingly) has been best midfield at the clearances and contested ball wins.
    With James Kelly ruthlessly tagged by Ryan Crowley (should be all Australian) only Joel Selwood gave a yelp in the Cats midfield. Bartel, Chapman and Corey are wonderful players who could continue to thrive as flankers, but they no longer have the leg speed for midfield roles. The young, skinny quick players like Motlop, Christensen and Stokes lack the strength for inside roles. Duncan is more the build for that role, but he is a season or two away as an inside player.
    The quality is still there for the Cats around the ground, but they will be starved of clean possession unless the midfield puzzle can be solved.
    Fyfe, Mundey, Duffield and Barlow made the Cats midfield look second rate, so there was no opportunity for match winners like Hawkins.

  11. Good article, Zaacman.
    As premiers they worked their way through a demanding fixture (which seems to be the norm for Geelong, premiers or not) and of their 6 road trips (4 of them the long ones to WA and Queensland), they won 2. With the exception of the Adelaide in Adelaide loss, the remaining three were decided by a handful of points. My point being, the close games that they won in previous seasons, showed a different result this time round. However, in any year, those close ones could have gone either way. When this is considered in the light of their enduring excellence on the field, their resolve to blood 10 debutantes, and the fact that they finished the season a game outside the top four in a very “fixed” and even season, they have surprised the doomsters yet again.
    The Cats beat the premiership (and MRP) favourites, Hawthorn, twice who must be quite relieved that they do no have to face Geelong in the finals.
    If Hawthorn and Freo face off in a prelim, it will be an interesting encounter. The champions of the 2008 premiership group, the Chappell brothers, have been scrapped from the team as a result of an AFL rule change, and we will read of the ins and outs in the Freo team with interest to see if Sandilands is playing, or named as an emergency.

  12. Given that “eras” are few and far between (if the definition of “era” in this context is a clutch of premierships in a short period of time), the probability is that Geelong’s “era” is over.

    The possibility of continued success is still there however, and given Geelong has bucked a few trends in the past 6 years, history is as Ross Lyon says.

    The thing about doomsayers is that they are only predicting the inevitable, and only need to get the timing right. They obviously seem to be able to shake off the embarrassment of failure very well because when the date arrives without their prediction coming true, they just change the date.

    Eventually they’ll get a chance to say “I told you so” but their credibiity is often shot by then.

  13. Paul Spinks says:

    That reads like a CV of achievements to be proud of …and a good antedote for last Saturday night.
    I’d love to be proved wrong, but I feel this era is over and next year will be one of transition. Making the finals could be measured a success. History will tell …hopefully it’ll just be a lull.

  14. I think “the era” as we know it is now certainly over. With Scarlo pulling the pin, that makes it he, Ling, Rooke, Harley, Milburn, Otto, Mooney to have departed from the nucleus of the 07 – 11 “era”. It still leaves some pretty decent players though, and Chris Scott has managed the team brilliantly in the past 24 months to ensure that we don’t fall off the cliff, and indeed hopefully, one “era” melds nicely into the next. With players like Vardy, Menzel, Duncan, Christensen, Hunt, Smedts, Cowen, Guthrie, Murdoch, Stringer having been given great exposure, combined with mid twenties types Selwood, Hawkins, West, Taylor who are now in their prime. Hopefully the great names like Johnson, Bartel, Chapman, Enright and co can taste one more flag before they fully hand the baton across for the next true “era”. Whatever happens from here though, we Geelong supporters can be content in the knowledge that some of the great names of the past decade have left the club with a culture and an expectation of excellence which will stand us in good stead for years and years to come.

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