I have never been to Subiaco to watch my Cats; it just seems so far away. Games against the Eagles conjure too many scarred memories.
Burnt into my brain matter is 1992 and us being the first team to lose a grand final to an interstate team and 1994 grand final when Bairstow chased Matera around all day and we were beaten by 80 points. How about 2006 at Skilled Stadium when they were 50 something points down and yet still came back to beat us? The recent good efforts against our foes from the west hardly erase all that. I am always nervous when we play them.
Every time when we play the Eagles it takes me back to 1993 when the Cats played the Eagles in Subiaco and there was a lot on the line for us. If we win we have a chance to play finals; but that’s also if Adelaide loses to the Pies. I was living in Japan then and my cousin Nic rang me and commentated the entire last quarter over the phone from his apartment in Elwood while he was watching it on television. Yes it was ‘that’ important. The Cats won that night; the Crows won the next day. We didn’t make it to the finals so I stayed in Japan, happy to be 8156km from football. Our finals dreams were lost because our destiny wasn’t in our own hands.
Tonight it is all in our hands. Yes we’ll play finals, but a home final depends on whether we can hold our nerve and win at least 2 of our last three games. If we lose tonight it’s going to be tough to finish top 2. It could mean that we’d have to travel to Sydney or that dreaded ground in the west; Subiaco.
The game begins and we look sharp. A ruthless focus is apparent from the outset and within 13 minutes a 30-point lead builds for the Cats. Goals to Motlop (2), Duncan, Blicavs, Stokes give us a good lead early. But I am still worried. Of course, the Eagles mount a small charge late in the quarter and kick 2 goals but then Kelly pulls out some tricks to assist Joel Selwood to his first goal of the night to steady us and put a mark on the early good work. We lead by 24 points at the first change.
In the second quarter the rain comes hard, it makes for a dour contest and this is going to suit us; it takes almost 12 minutes before a goal is scored and it is a stark contrast to the first term when Geelong rampaged 5 majors in the same time frame. Kelly weaves his way through the traffic and slots it through. A few minutes later Kelly repeats his magic and scores another. It’s not as classy as his first, but just as effective; off the ground, poking it through the traffic again from about 15 metres out. Another 3 goals for the term makes it 5 and the Eagles have managed just 2 points. My scrawled match notes contain the following words, “Cats in command – Motlop, the new Stevie J. Cats in control – Bartel, the complete footballer. Cats are superior – Lonergan – doing a job on Kennedy. Cats are up and about – Selwood – How good is this guy?”; this is reflected by the lead, which is 56 points at half time.
So why does the pessimistic Geelong supporter in me rear his head? 2006 flashes before my eyes.
Games at Subiaco are always tough ones. Whether the weather is dry (and hot) or wet (and slippery), matches there are usually always tight affairs. In the third quarter, the Cats controlled the game and kicked 4 goals to the Eagles 2. We lead by 70 points. I reckon it’s safe to assume we’ll win now. Note: Motlop was subbed early and came back to the bench with his earrings in, looking like a rock star. I’m not surprised; he now plays to his own beat.
I spent most of the last quarter daydreaming. I was thinking about Selwood, Joel that is. He’s kicked 4 goals, he’s had almost 30 possessions, and he has lead his troops in spirit and by his actions. His leadership has inspired and propelled his teammates not only tonight, but all season and really, since he became a regular in the senior team.
Whether he’s the best of the four Selwoods will be a talking point, however that he is the most successful there is no doubt. In the last 6 years he’s done it all (just about) this year he’s added ‘goal kicking mid-fielder” to his impressive career resume and in 4-6 weeks time Selwood could add “Brownlow Medalist” and “Premiership Captain” to his decorated football resume as well. Surely he will become one of the all time great Cats.
A top 2 spot looms large for us and the exciting thing is that our destiny is still in our hands and if all goes the right way we could win the whole bloody thing!
Hang on. I am getting carried away; let’s keep the lid on it, after all optimism is never a pessimist’s best friend.
Best/Votes: 3 – J. Selwood, 2 – S. Johnson, 1- M. Stokes
Goals: J. Selwood 4, J.Podsiadly 2, J.Kelly 2, M. Stokes 2, S. Motlop 2, A. Christensen, N. Vardy, J. Walker, J. Murdoch