Sydney Smackdown at the hands of Geelong

By Susie Giese

I am a great little sister. Along with mum, I went all the way to Sydney, just to visit brother Darren. Oh, what’s this? Geelong is playing in NSW this weekend? What a pleasant coincidence!

At first, I thought the dreaded Kardinia Park weather had followed us up north. Rain, the weatherman said. Fog. Wind. As it was, I enjoyed a warm weekend of near perfect conditions. I did the whole Sydney thing: ferry to Taronga Zoo, lunch at the Revolving Restaurant in Sydney Tower, exploring the market on The Rocks … all this paled in comparison to the chance meeting of footballers Mathew Stokes, David Wojcinski and Trent West on George St.

If that ain’t enough to get a Cats’ supporter’s heart going, I don’t know what is.

In the cloudless dusk, we set out for Central Station, just a stone’s throw away (if you have a very, very strong arm) from our hotel. The Powers That Be at Sydney are trying to lure more people to the game by waiving public transport fares for ticketholders. It’s a cheap ploy, but you won’t see me complaining.

WWE Smackdown moved in just next door to ANZ stadium. Mum has a contingency plan that, if things are looking grim at ANZ, we try to sneak in. We’re seeing them the next night in Melbourne, as it is. So we’re not too put out when this doesn’t eventuate. It’s the sad state of things that little kids wearing Rey Mysterio masks outnumber Geelong supporters on the walk to the precinct. At least we outnumber the John Cena fans. Small consolation.

Going to the MCG and SS is becoming too much of a habit for me, so a lot of that awe I used to get going to the footy in Victoria is wearing thin. Forcing myself to go interstate, though, makes it a true excursion, and I feel like a kid again. This is going to be fantastic.

I hope.

The game starts, and it looks like Geelong is starting to get the September juggernaut rolling. Two early goals to the master magician Stevie J set up a good night for the fans. Most of us Geelong supporters raise our voices, trying to make up for our lack of numbers with volume. “They’re boisterous,” Darren says of the Geelong fans. He is too.

Tom Hawkins is back, as are his fumbles. Give him time, I think. A couple of minutes later I’m rewarded for my faith when he lays a brilliant shepherd. We’ve missed this aspect of his game. Tap-ons, smothers, shepherds, second efforts—he’d be the top of the ladder for one-percenters at our club.

Gazza goals, as he tends to do, this time thanks mainly to a superb Trent West bump. He’s going to be making the most of this rare opportunity.

Swans answer through Kieren Jack, and the locals come to life. When Gazza scores again, it’s 1.1.7 to 4.0.24. Geelong is never this accurate, so I keep waiting for the onslaught of easy misses and OOFs. Well, the onslaught comes, but not as I expected. Geelong ends the quarter a neat 5.1.31, to Syndey’s 3.7.25. We’re winning by six points, despite the Swans’ additional four scoring shots. After a strong start by the Cats, Sydney dominated. It feels like a wasted effort. Almost.

The second quarter pans out much the same way, Geelong get out early, then take it easy, conserving energy. Stevie J stars again—he’s in superb form. Sheerly breathtaking. That little break did him the world of good. Mooney scrapes a goal through—he has this thing about the centre of the goals. He really doesn’t like them. Down our end, Sydney’s troubles don’t look like abating any time soon. Their best player for the night, Adam Goodes, misses an absolute sitter. It’s now 3.10 to 9.1.

Geelong’s plan to avoid injury is thwarted. I feel my stomach drop. My heart stops. A cold sweat breaks out. No, I plead to goodness knows who. No, no, no. From the other end of the ground, I see Chappy grabbing his leg, limping dramatically. It can’t be the dreaded hammy! I whip out my phone and text brother Robbie, back in Werribee.

Chappy hammy?

Chappy returns to the field before too long, running around unhampered. I remind myself he went on to kick six goals after tearing his hammy against Adelaide last year. Then missed the next few weeks. I don’t back us to beat the Pies without him. Robbie’s text comes though, and no one word has ever made me feel so relieved:

Knee.

At half-time a Henry Playfair montage plays. For those of you living under a rock or not religiously following his career, Henry Playfair was forced to retire following a serious back injury. This brings a tear to my eye. The young almanackers know something of my love for H Playfair and Charlie Gardiner. They were a fine pair of footballers, back in the day.

Hawkins doesn’t back himself from a distance yet. He palms one off the Josh Hunt, who looks proud as punch to kick a goal. Jimmy Kelly marks strongly and kicks a beauty. The scoreline, also, is a beauty. We’re never this accurate!

Johnno takes a one-hander that Gary the Original would’ve been proud of. He sneaks the goal through while everyone in the crowd is still watching a replay of the mark on the big screen. Geelong’s rotten night on the formerly (is it still?) suspect surface of ANZ Stadium continues. Josh Hunt is the latest victim. He, too, recovers and resumes playing.

Ablett works hard to get Byrnesy a goal, and West even manages to kick a Stokesy Special (goal from the goal square. Story for another time). Johnno kicks his fifth, and the poor Swans gentleman besides me asks, “Have you kicked enough yet?” This is feeling like the Geelong of old. No issues with form, no perceivable arrogance or laziness. Vintage stuff.

The gentleman goes on to ask the Big Question: “So is Gary staying or going?”

“Who knows?” I reply. Judging by Gary’s improved mood, though, I have my suspicions. I’m trying just to enjoy his 2010 season, come what may at the end of the year. With not much happening on the footy field, my new friend and I reminisce about the ’07 Grand Final.

As the three-quarter-time siren goes, the gentleman and his wife get up to leave.

“I hope you win the premiership,” he says as he walks past.

“This is too embarrassing,” his wife explains.

Geelong’s emphatic third quarter sealed the game, so they were happy to tread water and turn one eye on next week. Sydney saw the lapse in attention and capitalised, kicking four goals to two. Captain Kirk fights to the final siren, smashing into the point post in his desperation to win the ball. The ball is thrown in, a scrabble ensues, the siren sounds. Geelong are 63-point victors.

I bet Kirk wishes the siren had’ve sounded 10 seconds earlier.

Sydney 3.7                  4.12                  5.16                  9.18.72

Geelong 5.1                  10.1                  18.3                  20.5.125

Goalkickers:

Sydney: Goodes 3, Bolton 2, Kennedy, Jack, White, Kirk

Geelong: Johnson 6, Ablett, Mooney 3, Mackie, Kelly, Hunt, Ling, West, Ottens, Byrnes, Varcoe

Best:

Sydney: Goodes, Kennelly, Jack, Mumford

Geelong: Johnson, Ablett, Selwood, Corey, Milburn, Boris

Votes:

3- Steve Johnson (G)

2- Gary Ablett (G)

1- Adam Goodes (S)

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. David Downer says:

    Well done Susie, nicely written.

    I’m no WWE fan, by a long stretch – but extra points for abstract John Cena reference!

    DD

  2. You are just a little spoiled Suzie.

    And I am just a little jealous.

  3. Tony Robb says:

    Susie
    how were the footie avatars fairing on Saturday night. Based on the score line and lack of atmosphere, I’d suggest some of the swans supporters might get some more authentic action at the WWE.
    Great report
    TR

  4. Tony,

    There was constant chatter around me about what was happening at work, and Did You Hear About Margaret …

    It’s a social outing, there. Very few “genuine” fans. When I crossed the border last year, they new but three players.

    Shaw, Goodes and O’Laughlin.

    Not even poor old Kirk, their captain.

  5. knew*

  6. Tony Robb says:

    Ahh good to hear that the avatars were at their animated best. Were you tempted to touch a swan’s supporter. I think they could actually be some holographic creation. I bet the % of tartan scarf to real ones were was five to one. They also know Lewis-Thompson because hyphenated names are big in eastern suburbs , They even call him “the hyphenator” those crazy, wacky guys up there
    TR

  7. Richard Naco says:

    I was at that game as well, Susie, but I didn’t see you there!?! (Not knowing what you look like may have been a contributing factor.) Typically enjoyable account, btw.

    My son complained that the 31k crowd was the smallest we’ve ever seen at a Cats’ game (our mutual experience being v Hawks in Rd 17 last year & Rd15 this – both at the G – and the 35k at the Swans’ game last year in Sydney). And my wife is now firmly convinced that our attending Cats’ games is a portent of inevitable success.

    My other inevitable inanities have been tacked on to another thread, so I’ll leave it at that here (for now).

  8. Richard,

    this is my personal plea for you to attend every final Geelong plays in this year.

    Please and thank-you :-D

  9. Danielle says:

    Mrrrr…DASHINGG CODY RHODES!!!!
    :P

  10. Great report Susie, I look forward to reading your Grand Final piece.

  11. LOL, the 2008 one? Because I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of pain yet! I’ve already written as much of it as I can without watching the tape.

  12. Nah, I meant the 2010 Grand Final piece, because Geelong are going to make it.

    But now that you mention it, I can’t wait to read the 2008 one. When you get around to it that is.

  13. Enjoyable reading Susie.

    Maybe the avatars are produced by technology provided by Channel 9 in an attempt to win the rights to, and ownership of Monday night football.

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