Get the port and the fairy cakes

 

In the fine Australian film Spotswood, when Alwyn Kurts’s character – the elderly owner of a struggling moccasin factory – receives news that a decision has gone his way, he is over the moon and in need of an appropriate celebration. He says to his wife excitedly, “Darling, get the port. And the fairy cakes.”

It is an evening of port and fairy cakes in our household. The Cats are home in a thriller at the MCG, in as good a regular season match as you’ll see.

Hawthorn, started favourites in what looked to be (even in Round 2) a significant match. They were without Luke Hodge (and others). Geelong were missing Matthew Scarlett.

We Cats fans were a little anxious, a week of end-of-an-era discourse having had its impact. A loss would make us 0-2 and wondering what the future held.

It was an afternoon of squally showers and fragile sunshine. I settled in to watch in the study.

I quite like the conditions.

I think the Hawks deserve to be favourites and I am convinced that we have to dominate the centre to have any chance. A steady feed to Franklin and Rioli will make things tough.

As it gets closer to the first bounce my sense of the game’s importance grows. We could lose this. I notice Jimmy Bartel who hasn’t shaved and is looking more and more like Bluto. I notice Chappy who is looking broader across the beam. And Billie Smedts: just a boy.

It’s a physical contest early but the Cats settle well. Johnno snags a couple while Buddy looks dangerous at the other end. Jordan Lewis is at it again having an impact with body and soul. Sam Mitchell finds the footy.

Joel Selwood throws himself into contests and the blood flows from his forehead. Corey Enright looks at home across half-back, as if it’s his patch of ground, and has been for a decade. As if he knows it all so well. He is assisted by Andrew Mackie who is being asked to be all things to all men: a tall, a small, a link, a runner, a mopper-upper.

Tom Hawkins takes a big, big mark in the forward pocket: a 1931 Grand Final mark; a mark which makes everyone in the ground notice. But Pods can’t hang on to his, until he climbs to take one on the chest and slots the set shot through.

It’s an even contest. Who’s got the breeze? And who’s got Jimmy Bartel?

At the other end Buddy is being checked closely by Tom Lonergan who gives away a couple of free kicks.  He marks over Mackie. He looks threatening as he often does in the opening quarter.

The Hawks build pressure in the second quarter but the Cats respond and there are periods where both teams look like they’re getting on top. Lewis is having a blinder, while Chappy looks out of touch and the Cats have a few others who can’t get into the game. Stokes? Motlop? Duncan? I can feel a three quarter time appeal coming on, “Lift.” A personal request from the coach, an appeal to their sense of themselves as decent players.

But that’s a long way off yet. It’s not even half time.

Hawkins takes another fine mark and kicks truly and Podsiadly flies over the hapless Schoenmaker who seems spooked by hoops (and stripes, and V’s).

Mitchell is the dominant on-baller and Whitecross bobs up time and time again until it’s inappropriate to describe him as bobbing up. He’s in the game and influencing it.

The Hawks lead at half-time.

During the third the Cats work hard to stay in touch, with Kelly and Corey playing their parts, but Rioli helps the Hawks kick clear. The Cats fight back, and it’s now an even better game. Hawkins is a real presence in the forward line, but his kicking is still a concern. He’s a key part of the recovery and a point levels the scores.

Now Geelong’s on top. Lonergan has shut Buddy down. Taylor and Mackie are solid and Enright looks in charge. We can win this.

But just as we are pencilling in a top four finish and another preliminary final against the Eagles, the Hawks get away. A big bomb from Suckling and a snap from Whitecross and the margin is out to three goals.

Oh dear, we are thinking, wherever lovers of the hoops have gathered.

But we are still alive.

I want to be in the three quarter time huddle. I want to know what Chappy is saying between sucks on the citrus; whether he’s feeling sheepish about his glorious claim, his forever-vow; whether he’s resigned to it all ending. I want to be in the vicinity of Joel Selwood just to know what radiates from him at these moments. I want to be there as Boris and Jimmy exchange nods. And I want to hear the coach say, “Lift!”

They lift. The Cats are so determined they pare the margin back. Bartel, who has worked his way into the game brilliantly, marks and goals from long range. The Hawks do everything they can to resist. They have their chances. The Geelong defence holds: they run the ball from half-back. Hawkins continues to have an influence until finally he takes control. It is brilliant to watch. He pulls down some huge marks and dishes off. He is the one. Pods kicks the goals but Hawkins is the one.

Hawthorn hang on, but with minutes to go Pods senses the ball is flying over the back of the pack. He turns and sprints and gets there, and runs into an open goal. The Cats are in front.

At the other end Mackie saves the day as Osborne bumbles around in the square. Enright controls the troops and they all do their bit.

They soak up the minutes. Tired bodies will themselves to stay with their opponents. The Cats have other chances but they use the footy poorly. Hawkins goes hunting and takes a couple of settling marks in the centre of the ground.

The siren sounds.

It is an emotional victory. An important victory. The Hawks are devastated; they wonder what is going on. The Cats have affirmed their status.

It is a strong performance and one which shows the resolve and ability of their champions who, in the moments of sustained pressure and tension, have won the day. What price class, and experience?

How can you not love these blokes?

I call for the fairy cakes.

 

Votes: 3. Hawkins   2. Bartel   1. Whitecross (Mitchell and Lewis drifted out of the game in the second half. Terrific games from Enright, Selwood and Mackie, and Pods was solid).

 

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 - Theo10, 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.

Comments

  1. John Kingsmill says:

    Lovely report, JH. I wanted Hawthorn to win to give me 9/9 but in the end I had to admire Geelong’s refusal to concede their final inch of want. They are still a hungry team. They still have something to prove.

  2. Eric Ellis says:

    Excellent work, John…

  3. Wonderful writing.

    It was an incredibly dramatic game, probably more so than the one a few years back when Jimmeh won it with a last minute point. Then I felt really confident about the team; now you can’t help but feel nervous when you observe the callowness of B.Smedts.

    The observation regarding Chappy was astute. I don’t bet, but I bet he’s close to the end. Remember 2009? A shadow of that now. Actually, that makes me feel sad. He’s a vital personality, and you don’t like to see that kind of character feeling boxed in.

    Aaaah, had to pull an all-nighter for work (we’re four hours behind Smellbourne). Shouldn’t post when you are toast.

  4. Tony Robb says:

    John
    Great game of footie in what I feel was a GF prelude. However, to paraphrase The Rock, can you smell what the Blues are cooking?
    Cheers
    TR

  5. John Harms says:

    Tony, No doubt we will learn a bit more about Carlton on Friday night. Aoart from the evenness at the top of the comp I think the year is set up beautifully because we have different approaches at the top as well. Hawthorn with its stars. Geelong: the team. Collingwood (I don’t know what – intensity?) West Coast (the talls). Adelaide – a Geelong copy? Sydney – the stopper? I reckon the Blues will beat everyone below them but the burden of winning with a fleet of runners might be telling. The Pies aren’t travelling brilliantly. It could be a beauty on Friday.

  6. haiku bob says:

    i miss the handbaggers.

    hb.

  7. John. Did you manage a port with the fairy cakes?

    John, Edward. Can’t agree about Chappy. I was lucky enough to be at this great game and thought Chappy’s second half in particular (14 quality disposals) was terrific. Like Bartel & Selwood, the harder it got the better he played. In today’s Age Clarko is quoted as saying that when the game is there to be won guys like Selwood, Bartel, Chapman ‘just will their side to victory’. Exactly.

    Chappy…he’s so reliable (still).

  8. Freddo Frog says reeeeebitt!

  9. Matt Zurbo says:

    Top stuff!!!

  10. Unbelievable that it could happen AGAIN between these two sides. I’ve already done my Round 19 tip for the pair – Geelong by under a goal.

  11. Rick Kane says:

    To the victor goes the spoils (he says through gritted teeth). I was gutted when the final siren went and still am. More precisely, to quote Dave Warner, I was pissed off, shat off and leapt outa the car still moving.

    Good summary John, enjoy said port and fairy cakes. Mr Phantom is now due another freedo (actually, this time it’s an Easter Egg) from yours truly. I am concerned that I may be contributing to a future diabetes problem and a permanent chocolate grinning state, what with all the freedos I owe him.

    My observation from high up in a bitterly cold Olympic Stand, was that at three quarter time the Cats were instructed to keep the ball moving no matter what; kick long and down the centre; and trust each other. That defiant (almost belligerent) attacking style so late in the game seemed to throw the Hawks sideways. They spent the quarter looking over their shoulder at ghosts, defending and playing chasey.

    But, to quote The Terminator, we’ll be back!

  12. pamela sherpa says:

    Great game – like a final. But have both teams peaked too early? Just joking! Long season ahead yet but with that quality of football, it will be a beauty.

  13. Ed Harcourt says:

    I’d just like to clarify that it is not this Edward that is writing off Paul Chappy.

    He was injured last year (20-22% down on his best) and his hook to the left down the Ponsford end from 55 indicates he has a groin related injury he is getting over. He will be back. He has the heart of a champion and those are ageless.

    My Prediction: Round 4 against the Tiges at Skilled – Chappy with 4 goals (2 from outside 50, 1 snap, 1 set shot where he marks it with his forearms on a dunstall like lead).

    B.O.G

    and I call it Skilled deliberately.

  14. John Harms says:

    I wasn’t writing Chappy off, just observing a quiet first half. He was one of those who LIFTED. The sensing of the end was referring to the end of the run of Geelong never losing to Hawthorn again.

    However I do think Chappy will be better for the run.

  15. Andrew Else says:

    This makes me want to drink port and eat fairy cakes, as long as they’re organic.

    The Cats make last quarters unbearable for their opponents. The Hawks showed all the signs of a team trying too hard.

    Pressure made them try those dribble goals and pressure made Osborne pick it up in the goal square when a boot off the ground was called for.

    It was a pleasure to watch

  16. Ed Harcourt says:

    He was quiet JTH.

    There was a lot of lifting going on there in the second half. It’s great that in this pragmatic new world of structures and presses and systems and Ross Lyon, Geelong still seem to call upon the time honored tradition of Lifting. I’m a big fan of HEART myself. It’s very transposable:

    “The kid’s got HEART!”
    “That smother was all HEART!!”
    “Hawthorn have no HEART!”

  17. Just back from Stawell. We listened to the Cats v Hawks around the camp fire after the Gift final. Thrilling encounter, except for a very poor ABC commentary effort. Drew Morphett needs a spell – a long one.

    We didn’t call for the fairy cakes, we called for the red wine and pizza!

  18. John,
    I watched the game (along with everyone else!) and thought that
    Chapman was showing signs of the frustrated champ whose body
    is not responding as quickly as it once did. The one-on-one
    contest in the middle of the ground (with Guerra?) which he lost in
    the 3rd quarter was instructive.

    Dips,
    Don’t get me started on Drew Morphett…commentating like it’s 1989.

  19. …and I am really hoping the Cats have the post-big-match et down next Sunday…

  20. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Nice one Harmsy,

    thought JPOD was exceptional in the second half. The potential you saw in Tomahawk in early 07 has certainly blossomed. He looks like a different person out there. Very imposing now.

    Some of my first memories of Aussie TV were watching Alwyn Kurts in Homocide and The Last of The Australians. Great character actor.

  21. Richard Naco says:

    JTH -Lovely encapsulation of a truly majestic encounter, but I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the prediction I made at the Sydney Almanac book party concerning a certain kid from Lara.

    Looked the goods, did our Bundy.

    And it was such a win for the heart, that game. I love Hawthorn. No other team brings the best out of Geelong as they do, and all 8 games since their superlative Grand Final victory have been footy of the highest order.

    I really enjoy replaying all 8 of those DVDs.

    I thought that Tim Watson’s last words on the Channel 7 broadcast perfectly summarised Geelong’s win:
    “There’s a massive ticker inside this club”.

    GO CATS (and save some of the fairy cakes for Round 19).

  22. nonshedders says:

    Enjoyed this thread, as much as I enjoyed watching the replay just now.

    Can someone who was at the game tell me whether the criticism of Al Clarkson for dropping players behind the play in the final quarter is warranted? TV doesn’t allow for a proper assessment of that sort of tactic – and I would find it curious and thought-provoking if he was critical of his players for not seizing the initiative when he set a defensive mindset as coach.

    2 observations from an island lounge-room: 1) Hawkins game has grown. He’s a bulldozer in that forward line now. 2) Cam Guthrie is quick across wet turf.

  23. That’ll learn me. I tipped against the Cats in a “go with my head, not heart” moment. But what a tough, relentless team. And with not a thug in sight. They are unique in their greatness.

    To me, it looked like Stokesy was close to the end.

    Guthrie fits the mould perfectly.

  24. Nice piece John. I thought the Hawks were just unlucky in the end – Osborne, Buddy and an impressive Roughead missing should-have-beens. The rain and the Geelong pressure played their part (the Hawks don’t like rain). Having said that, Hawthorn, like the Cats, have class and will only improve, which should concern the rest. I felt a little bit the same way as I did after that match during 2008 when the Cats just got up over the Hawks. I think when next the two sides meet, Hawthorn will be fitter and stronger than they are now. Its going to be another cracker later in the year, and no doubt, come finals time. Go Hawks!

  25. PS off the field, I’m not sure what was more interesting – Jeff Kennett sitting next to Daryl Somers or Jeff’s beret!

  26. Toulouse Lautrec………or……to lose la plot, Sasha

  27. Grant Fraser says:

    jth

    For the good of the game – my team will again see your team when they play for the Lindt (not Easter Eggs) on 29 Sept.

    Rgds

    rgf

  28. Grant Fraser says:

    PS – #25 must be moved…be it to Box Hill or the forward line – for the sake of the kid and the sake of the team.

    Our #2 may not be an Easter Bunny for your #26

  29. The beret.

    Anyone remember that Micallef skit where the bloke is standing in line with a beret on his head? It went something like:

    Man: Excuse me sir, you have a beret on your head.
    Beret wearing man furiously swipes at his head.
    2nd Man: Oh my God! Thank you.

  30. Gonna get me some port and fairy cakes for such occasions. Pretty sure there’s a bloke in Sunshine who sells ’em..

  31. Drew Morphett!!!!!
    Memo to ABC powers that be: Put DM out to pasture, please. Without delay.

    Re. the game, it felt SO GOOD! I scared the little Hawthorn kids in front of us with my exuberant celebration.
    Next best thing to 07, 09 & 11.

  32. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Great write up , JTH amazing that all of the games between the two clubs since that , GF have all been so similar . Ironic that the debate re , Chappy that at the end of , 2013
    that the club has decided to move him on how him missing the , Preliminary final has changed the football lendscape .
    Cmon folks, Drew Morphett is a brilliant commentator just having a bad millennium

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