Surely the Cats were the winners – Dips O’Donnell

 

Some days are just strange. They make absolutely no sense from start to finish and leave you scratching your head and wondering if the whole world has spent the past twelve or so hours in a massive conspiracy to take the piss out of you, and only you.

 

On Friday I spent a most enjoyable afternoon at the All Nations Hotel in esteemed company drinking cold well poured Carlton Draughts and consuming a beef and Guiness pie hot enough to strip the paint off Dane Swans arm. What’s strange about that? Well nothing really, except the “guest speaker”, who was described as the most interesting bloke in the room, outlined his top eight for the 2009 season. During his speech he dissected all the teams in the competition with succinct yet insightful criticisms like “rooted” and “very rooted” before it was pointed out that he had twelve teams in his bottom eight. This had no bearing whatsoever on his composure. The top eight at the conclusion consisted of Hawthorn, Geelong and a few other teams that came to mind. I found it all very strange, but very entertaining.

 

Then there was the raffle. Now I should point out here that my family and raffles don’t mix. I blame this on my ancestors who arrived from Donegal in Ireland about 1860 and headed for the gold fields in and around Ballarat, but sadly the only thing they found was that the going was extremely tough. Goldless and luckless I think they went into retail. I seem to have inherited this gene. But as the raffle was drawn I heard my name get called out as the second prize winner. “That’s not right”, I thought, “no one from my family is allowed to win anything.” Within a nano second the shouts went up for a redraw due to my hesitant response to the ticket number being read out. It was almost comforting. This prize would be wrenched from my grasp and my ancestors would be able to continue to rest in peaceful unlucky slumber. But I was propelled up the front to collect my second prize, which, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, was the same as first, third and fourth. Very strange.

 

After leaving the pub (because I had run out of money, not run out of good company) I did a quick walk up to Bridge Road to catch the tram home and see the Cats v Hawks in the comfort of my own fart cushion. I jumped on the 48 and was confronted by a bloke playing a ukulele to an adoring group of extremely “E”xcited teenagers. They clapped and shouted “more, more, more” as each Tiny Tim tune came to an end.

 

“Play a footy song!” one yelled out.

 

So he burst into “When The Saints Go Marching In.” It was pointed out that they didn’t play until Saturday but the ukulele player just smiled and plucked the strings and soaked up the momentary fame. Unfortunately I had to get off the tram as the concert was getting interesting. It was very strange.

 

So I sat on the couch and watched two high quality tough sides go at it, and as Geelong asserted its superiority and got six goals up I felt comfortable. Finally the day had become predictable. The best team was going to win. Nothing strange about that.

 

Then Buddy and Roughead remembered how to play and the Hawks threatened to steal the unstealable win. But the Cats steadied and did what was needed to see the game out.

 

Good win I thought, completely destroyed the Hawks cluster and had 13 more scoring shots. Probably could have belted them except for some bad kicking. Cats can take a lot from that.

 

Then I listened to the footy “experts” sum it up and the day got strange again. “Hawks were courageous” they said, “they’ll take a lot more out of it than Geelong”, they said.

 

What?

 

“The Cats defence looked vulnerable”, they said, “A lot of players in the Cats line up won’t improve much”, they said, “The Cats coaching staff has plenty to think about”, they said.

 

What??

 

So I rechecked the stats to clarify things. Yes, the Cats did indeed win, yes they did have 13 more shots at goal, yes at one point their defence was so inept the Cats got 43 points in front, yes their mid field cut the Hawks to pieces in the third quarter.

 

I couldn’t see too many negatives in any of that. Is it better to actually lose these days?

 

Confused, mentally exhausted and sensing that this strange day had not finished with me, I got in first and retreated to bed. Strangely I just couldn’t go to sleep.    

 

 

 

 

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 - Theo9, 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.

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