J-Pod crosses the line, V-Line crosses Susie

By Susie Giese

Okay, so the plan was for me to catch the V-Line from South Geelong, buy a record, find our seats, and set up and get comfortable. It was a good plan.

The actuality was that my V-Line was running late (big surprise) so mum and Katherine beat me to Southern Cross. The best laid plans …

Tonight’s ground announcer is really getting into things, trying to fire up the crowd. At least he seems to be enjoying himself. I groan as I realise, once more, we have booked seats and ended up in the middle of an enemy bay. At least the people in our row are all Geelong.

The teams come out, and I hold my breath. It’s beautiful. It’s just so … right. Last week, crowd-favourite Jimmy Kelly led the boys into battle. This week, the football world rejoices in nature’s wish being fulfilled: Gary Ablett is leading Geelong out.

The shiny, bald head gathers the troops at the base of the banner. They run out as one. He goes in for the coin toss and enthusiastically shakes Murphy’s hand. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. He looks the part. He wins the toss (the footy gods are trying to drop a hint or two, methinks). My heart swells with pride.

Our little Gazza. He ain’t going nowhere, so Gold Coast can go do you-know-what to themselves. He’s our boy, through and through. At this moment, the answer is clear, and I am confused why there is a debate in the first place.

The first quarter gets underway, and Menzel continues his impressive form from last week to kick the opening goal. It started in defence with a trademark Taylor mark. Carlton reply all-too easily and quickly when Simpson outstrips Boris down our end (third row seats are great, but I didn’t want to see that, please and thank-you).

The Cats are messy, and keep missing absolute gimmes. Pods misses one he’d usually complete with his eyes closed, and it is clear the Cats need to tighten up—we can’t afford to waste our opportunities against a team like Carlton. Just minutes later, Pods redeems himself in very convincing fashion. Mum reminds me that Thompson instructed Pods to enjoy his footy.

Varcoe manages to fight his way out of a headlock and kick one from the goal square, and things are looking good for the Cats. Pods adds his second soon after. He isn’t just enjoying his footy, he’s LOVING it!

The curse of playing in SC finals strikes once more, as I find myself silently celebrating a Waite goal.

Hawkins and Blake have been told time and time again they are fighting for their spots in the finals, and it looks as though the message is finally sinking in. Blake is laying impressive tackles at clearances, following up his brilliant ruckwork with decent second efforts. Hawkins is marking everything that comes near him, whether he’s forward, middle or deep, deep back. These are the players Geelong fans know and love!

Carlton is starting to dominate the end of the quarter, though, and Lachie Henderson is far too quick for the geriatric Scarlo. Mark. Goal.

Judd gets a free kick just for being Judd. Stokes misses, and Gazza, too nervous about his job as acting captain, wastes Geelong’s last forward fifty entry for the quarter. At the first break, it’s a one-point ball game.

Kelly gets a quick clearance to start the second term, but Geelong is struggling to keep it in our forward line. We have no forward pressure or presence whatsoever. This problem has been prevalent in the past month or so, coming to a head in the Collingwood game. I thought last week we’d turned the corner, but here we are, relapsing into bad habits.

Thankfully, we have Menzel. He marks strongly in the goal square, belying his age and career games. He finds a way to almost miss, but still the six points are registered.

I mentioned earlier I had third-row seats. They were on the lower deck, just right (or left from a TV point-of-view) of the Coventry end goals. Why I am going into so much detail about seating arrangements? Well, it’s just because I feel incredibly blessed that I had the BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE for what was, undoubtedly (in my clearly un-biased opinion), GOAL OF THE YEAR!

BYRNESSYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! A razor blade wishes it could be that straight and sharp. I’ve never seen a more perfect kick in my entire life. The crowd goes nuts, Byrnesy, Mr Formely-Officially-Least-Accurate-Kick-In-The-AFL looks like all his Christmases, Easters, birthdays and Weddings have come at once.

Lachie Henderson kills the jubilation somewhat when he gets on back for the Blues. Way to let Geelong celebrate, sheesh. Boris wastes another opportunity down our end, and it’s clear we’ll need to settle. The boys can celebrate Byrnesy’s brilliance when they get back home.

For a little while, it feels like Geelong are going to recapture their form from last week, but to their credit, the Blues are having none of that. If it wasn’t for the brilliant, second-to-none work of Geelong’s defenders, this game would be a lot closer. Surely, Harry Taylor must be the best marking defender in the land. He has unparalleled courage in flying back into a pack, and his strong hands are rivalled only by his teammate, Podsiadly.

Speaking of great marks, Tommy Hawkins powers for one just outside the forward 50 arc, straight in front. He half makes up his mind to play on, but little Stokesy stretches up on tiptoes, grabs him by the scruff of the neck, and points at goals. Have a go, the message is. This is your chance to earn your spot. Thankfully, Hawkins listens.

Johnno pulls some vintage Stevie J magic out of his bag of tricks, nabbing another goal, and Pods marks (“HOW DID HE MARK THAT?!?!?!”) and goals. If Harry Taylor is the most reliable mark in the AFL, Pods must be the strongest. I am left speechless (only momentarily. The jerk in front of me is having a go at my boys again).

Pods is back to his very best, but a split-second decision in the dying moments of this quarter will be rued for many years to come. Why, why, why when your team is comfortably up do you decide to collect a player’s head with you hip? This is definitely Week One of finals over for Pods, and depending on how the mysterious MRP decide to adjudicate this one, it could be the end of the fairytale. Cinderella was out at the market when the prince came by with the shoe, so they never had their happily ever after. Pods doesn’t even fight back when Carlton players get stuck into him. He looks devastated.

The third quarter seems to be all Carlton, but Geelong are managing to hold on. Once more, lack of F50 pressure is costing us. They may as well replace our forward line with a trampoline, the ball is rebounding that effortlessly. In what is becoming an unnerving pattern for the Cats, we stay in the game because the opposition can’t kick a goal to save themselves. We’re really very lucky.

Twelve minutes in, Stokesy finally gets our first goal for the term. Dasher is giving the crowd ample opportunity to boo him, but a new sound now precedes it: a groan. He’s smashing them at half back, and they darn well know it. Gazza is starting to get involved, remembering he’s player first and acting captain second. One OOF, one goal and one behind—not great, but at least he’s in the thick of the action. Pods recovers a little of the spirit from his scintillating opening half and kicks an absolute ripper from 40m out on the boundary—possibly his best goal to date.

The fourth quarter starts and I make a promise to myself: the next person to make a (lame, clichéd and uncreative) Gold Coast Gary gag is getting my pen shoved through their eye. I’ve had it. No more Miss Nice Susie. Then I contemplate a finals series behind bars. On second thoughts, I might just try to ignore them. A bit hard when he keeps getting the ball, another brilliant goal—ah, yes. There are the ferals again. “Where’s ya sunscreen?”—how creative. Jealousy is a terrible curse.

Stokes intercepts a Carlton pass just inside the arc, and almost kicks a ripper. If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts … Johnno smashes the ball into the post like it’d done something to offend him, but Menzel once more restores calm with a goal. He’s only just passed a handful of possies, but I’d take a three-goal return any day. Gazza goals again, and Carlton concede.

We’ll need to play better than this to beat Collingwood.

Geelong:             5.3          11.7        14.8        18.13.121

Carlton:                5.2          8.3          10.7        12.7.79

BEST:

Geelong: Milburn, Ablett, Enright, Podsiadly, Hunt, Taylor, Chapman

Carlton: Gibbs, Murphy, Henderson, Robinson

GOALS:

Geelong: Podsiadly 4, Ablett 4, Menzel 3, Hawkins 2, Bartel, Byrnes, Johnson, Stokes, Varcoe

Carlton: Henderson 3, Waite 3, Robinson 3, Judd, Simpson, Warnock

-VOTES-

3. Milburn

2. Hunt

1. Podsiadly

About Susie Giese

Born into the worship of the mighty Hoops, Susie has turned to adopting a Zen-like state during games in recent years to preserve her heart. The Cats of 2015 have the ol' ticker a-racing, though!

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Good account Susie (although we’ll never doubt your affiliations: as it should be).

    The Cats are a class above us despite our two previous wins.

    Pods has temporarily helped with the Blake/Hawkins dilemma.

    But you’re right about the performance. They’d need to do much better come finals.

  2. LOL, thanks JB. Naturally, if I were writing a bona fide match report I’d like to think I could be objective. The above, however, is a bit of fun from a fan’s (obviously one-eyed) perspective.

    Carlton are one of those rare teams we really stuggle to find an answer for. There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it: luck played a big role in our win. What else could you say affected Carlton’s kicks when they dominated big patches of the game?

    The Blues are still a team I fear.

    All the best for September.

  3. I don’t fear the Blues.

    I just hate ’em.

  4. Good review Susie.

    “Where’s ya sunscreen?” Haha, that’s a good one, i’ll have to use that one day.

    I hate ground announcers. It’s already good enough just witnessing the atmosphere of the field, the players, the crowd, it doesn’t help when the announcer is yapping his head off, doing his best to make you deaf by the end of the game.

  5. John Butler says:

    Susie, that whole objectivity thing can be overrated. Especially concerning footy.

    Aw Gigs, one little crack about “long. tragic history” and you wanna go hold a grudge?

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