Round 17 – Geelong v Hawthorn: Clear and Present Danger. Cats in their Heaven…eventually

by Stephen Alomes

 

It was another July day, cool, with occasional sun giving way to clouds and a cold wind, as I walked across the Fitzroy Gardens to the `G. My footy exercise program and the Pacer app declared over 14,000 steps after the ramp to the top of the not so great southern stand and the walk back to Flinders St.

 

Except this was a day on which my compulsive eating grew. Yes, the good banana and mandarins, and the water, but also the too large chocolate.

 

I had had too many stressful moments watching the Tigers in Hobart when young and over recent decades Geelong went from stress to spoiling us and now stress again. As a footy historian, as well as hearing the medico’s advice, it was easier, and healthier, to be a theatregoer. I swear only inwardly at the game unlike when watching TV, although I could always change channels.

 

I did not look forward unqualifiedly to the probable close game, the Cats playing the old foe, Hawthorn, about whom the critics had written another theme song, “We’re a thuggish team….the filthy, dirty….”  Yes, ‘unsociable’ means playing outside the rules.

 

Nor could I embrace Luke Hodge’s 300th. Great warrior, brilliant footballer, on-field general, charming Colac character, but those five free kicks he gave away, including several shots at goal, reminded us that he had a way of playing on the edge, no, over the edge, in ways which disguised the ‘hits’. Some said that even Jarryd Roughead, ‘Roughy,’ was now living up to his name.

 

One of the Hodge hits was on Danger, Patrick Dangerfield, who faces multiple hits each week, along with Ablett, Sloane, Johannisen. Whatever happened to the ‘Craig Kelly Rule’, the one they just forgot to implement? That is, if you knuckle after the mark, 50 metres, if you hold, push, shove, jumper punch, or pinch (the Kelly original) you are interfering with the player off the ball. That means a free kick, often in front of goal.

 

The game was from the beginning an arm-wrestle, although not quite the ugly Sydney-Freo stuff, which guarantees a change of channels.

 

Both teams were missing players, and the Cats faced the sudden withdrawal of key backline cog, Andrew Mackie, and their best tagger, Scott Selwood.

 

The Cats failed to tag Mitchell despite their declared intentions, leading to a Hawks goal within the first minute; finally, after his 19 first quarter touches, they put Blicavs on him.

 

The Hawks’ two early goals I could cope with, but when Patrick Dangerfield then went down with what looked like a broken fibula (we are all instant medical as well as umpiring and 20/20 vision experts) I reached for the chocolate … therapy was prescribed.

 

It looked like he was finished for the day, and perhaps the season. That was a time to remember, 20 minutes into the first quarter.

 

More chocolate. Is it a better or worse footy diet than a pie and chips?  But I needed it.

 

By quarter time, after 30 minutes of sloppy football (or low efficiency according to the stats gurus), the Cats had come back to a one point lead, after taking 15 minutes to kick their first goal.

 

Could the Cats now use Menegola as an inside clearance player in lieu of Danger, as they did when Selwood was absent? Could Motlop return to the damaging player he was two years ago? Would Hawthorn continue to kick points rather than goals?

 

These were the questions Cats supporters were now asking in the good first rows of Q level in the AFL members, a quieter place than thunderous Bay 13, although seated supporters shared the same uncomfortable seats, unlike the cushioned bums and heat-returning pads in the Ponsford stand.

 

The Cats continued to struggle, but effectively, eventually. After five Hawthorn goals, and continued, if reduced, Mitchell impact, they were only one goal down at half time.

 

The reason? Not that, like many footy teams, they tormented their supporters. It was the hobbling superhero with the strength, spring and super-extended arms who had returned in more ways than one. Danger, ‘resting’ at full forward, was involved in six scoring successes, including kicking two himself.

 

The perfect footballer with a double Achilles heel, a bruised foot and poor kicking for goal, Danger, was keeping the Cats in it. Meanwhile, in the midfield, Mitch Duncan who had stepped up to fill the hole, all the more important as Hawthorn tagger Daniel Howe was managing to repress the irrepressible Joel Selwood.

 

I had finished the healthy fruit but kept hitting the chocolate. It would soon be gone, and I’m not a nail biter. ‘What is to be done?’, I wondered, after Mr Ulyanov, during the long break.

 

A Danger goal in the second minute of the third quarter took the pressure off in Q as well as on the ground.

 

It seemed to be goal for goal and injury for injury with Cam Guthrie and the Hawks ‘blond Sicilian’ (James Sicily) off, although Geelong were coming together, with Henderson’s solid marking and Zac Tuohy’s dash out of defence which were complemented by Menzel’s habitual accuracy, and by this new position, ‘full forward’.

 

Soon, Shaun Burgoyne’s hand troubles saw him off for a time and then reduced his impact.

 

Although the Hawks ‘prevailed’ in the statistics games, outnumbering the Cats in most categories, the Cats’ more effective ball use was making a – slight – difference.

 

Three quarter time scores of the Cats leading by only nine points, 11.9.75 to Hawthorn 9.10.64, were not relaxing. I began to wish I was at home, ready to turn the TV to BBC News or rock or classical music in the psychological moments, returning after I saw a Cats goal on the AFL app.

 

However, I was brave. I even relaxed when the Cats went out to the biggest lead of the match.

 

Then I began my journey towards gate 3, taking in the screens as I walked.

 

Soon, I would be in pole position on the grid, ready to walk back to Flinders St.

 

However, as often before, the situation worsened. Suddenly, a Hodge goal put Hawthorn within reach.

 

Only one goal would do it, would lead to evil defeating good.

 

Except, on this Saturday, the Gods supported ‘playing the game as it should be played’ rather than ‘Battle of Britain’ style ‘unsociable’ stuff, and Isaac Smith missed again, this time on the run.

To my sighs of relief, the Cats had gained the four points, after a three point win.

 

A clear and present Danger had created a clear and present victory.

 

And I had my exercise as well as the chocolates.

 

GEELONG          3.3    6.7    11.9    13.10 (88)

HAWTHORN      3.2    7.6    9.10    12.13 (85)

GOALS

Geelong: Dangerfield 5, Menzel 3, Stanley, Parfitt, Simpson, Tuohy, Selwood

Hawthorn: Mitchell 2, Schoenmakers 2, Shiels, O’Brien, Breust, Smith, Burgoyne, Gunston, Langford, Hodge

BEST

Geelong: Dangerfield, Duncan, Henderson, Selwood, Menzel

Hawthorn: Mitchell, Shiels, Gunston, Hartung

 

Note. This report was drug-assisted, but not peptides assisted.

So were:

  • the new 2017 edition of Stephen Alomes, Australian Football The People’s Game 1958-2058, ($25.00) available from the author on alomes@rmit.edu.au

 

Comments

  1. Rick Kane says:

    Dear Mr Alomes

    I thoroughly enjoyed your essay on the health benefits of chocolates. When in a similar state of WTF at the G I carry with me a flask of green or even oolong tea (in the manner that you disguise your real desires with fruit) aided always by a block of fine quality chocolate. I was not able to attend this most recent mighty Hawks vs the haughty Cats clash but I was at most of the 11 straight losses we endured and I ate a lot of chocolate.

    As I said, your essay on the virtues of chocolate receives high praise from this reader. Not so much your character assassination of the greatest Hawks player since Lethal Leigh. (Yes, I can see your smirk as you make the simplistic link re one thug to the other). There is a toughness that Hawthorn is proud of even if we have overstepped the mark once or a dozen times. In fact earlier this season a Hawker friend lamented that Lewis was not on the ground when we were being thumped again because he would have taken the game on (might have cost him a week or two) rather than what our 2017 team was doing which looked a lot like rolling over. Toughness is part of our brand (what we once called character) and the toughest and best is Hodge.

    As for the main thrust of your chocolate essay about Dangerfield and another Cats victory, well I drifted off.

    Cheers

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