The sweetest one of all


by Marcus Holt

I’ve lived in exile in WA since I was 12 but my love for Geelong has never waned.
I got a ticket to the 07 Grand Final by Divine intervention.
In 08 my number came up in the ballot but I sent my son, The Heir, in my place.
In 09 the ballot was kind to me again but going to the Grand Final cost me my job.
In late 2010 we moved back to Victoria and for the first time since 1973 I’ve been in Geelong for the footy season.

Sport Boy and I got a family membership.
Right from the very first game, when Dasher kicked the winning goal with 20 seconds left against St Kilda it has been a fantastic season and we’ve been there to see it all. Now we were playing the Magpies for the premiership.
We had to get tickets. This time the ballot was not kind but the AFL were, making standing room tickets available to members.
Like all premiership windows, there was very limited time to obtain the prize and at the exact time I would need to be online buying tickets, 12 o’clock, I was rostered to drive the #51 Bus to Hamlyn Heights.

Inspiration! I called Darlow, another Cats’ tragic. He was up for it and that was even before he realized that if successful, one of the tickets would be for him. I’d trust him with my life so it was no biggie to entrust him with my membership numbers and credit card details. I turned my attention back to navigating the Autumn Street traffic.
At seven minutes past noon he sent the text I was hoping for. “Got em”. We were going to the Grand Final, Woohoo!!

Sport Boy is not tall so standing room presented a challenge: we’d need to get there early and run for a spot. We were lucky, despite running late the gates still hadn’t opened when we got to The ‘G. I had a plan and we made a dash for it to level 4. Yes! There was space for us in front of the bar, over-looking the 50m line at the Punt Road end, perfect. We settled in for the 3 ½ hour wait till bounce down. Thankfully only 12 minutes of it was taken up by Meatloaf.

Countdown. Siren. Bounce. Handball to Selwood, handball to Varcoe, GOAL! 13 seconds in! It was gonna be a good day. Varcoe kicked his second and the Cats were on fire. Darlow, who is indigenous, quipped, “My people are carrying your people!” It became the Travis show when the Collingwood variety, Cloke, kicked two monster goals. The game was well and truly on. Another brother, Krakouer put the Pies in front. Lazarus Johnson goaled and the Cats took back the lead. A soft 50 saw Ball kick Collingwood’s 4th. Frenzied footy followed and Geelong lead by 1 point at quarter time.
I was breathless just watching.

The predicted storms had not arrived but thunder of another kind boomed around the MCG as Krakouer, Cloke and Ben Johnson slammed on three quick goals and the Pies were out to an 18 point lead.
I was worried, genuinely worried. I was at Docklands the day Collingwood started the last quarter four goals down against the Crows and then ran riot kicking 11 goals in 18 minutes. I knew what they were capable of and I feared we were about to be on the wrong end of some Magpie Fury.

Matty Stokes got one back but then the JPod went down with a dislocated shoulder, his Grand Final dream suddenly over. To add insult to injury, the umps allowed play to go on around him and Krakouer took a screamer right beneath us before play was finally stopped. JPod departed and Krakouer slotted the goal: we were 16 points behind and one man down.
Sub Duncan passed to Lazarus who kicked his second but Sidebottom responded for Collingwood.
With the battle raging we needed heroes. Selwood and Bartel responded with crucial goals. I was relieved we were just 3 points behind at half time.

The third quarter was, if possible, even more intense than the first two.
This was the “Classic Grand Final” everyone hoped for and then some.
Goal answered goal, roar answered roar and neither side could make a decisive break. Hawkins soccered his first, Wellingham shaved the post for 6 points in a bit of Grand Final karma, Hawkins marked and goaled again, Brown booted a ripper from outside 50, Bartel kicked truly from the pocket after a gutsy mark. Duncan goaled: the Cats by 7 but before the breathing space could even be contemplated Sidebottom spun out of a tackle and kicked a stunning goal. It seemed Collingwood would not be denied.
Late in the quarter Hawk kicked his third goal, another soccer after some great work by Otto. Siren. The Cats lead by 7 points but it was anybody’s game. I hoped rather than believed.

Then the miracle came, delivered in the shape of a Tomahawk. Three towering contested marks against the struggling Reid in the first 4 minutes and Tommy had taken the game by the scruff of the neck in a way we had always hoped he would. A deft handball to the cheeky Johnson and the Cats were 15 in front. The tide was turning, the Cats were about to hit top gear and the Pies had no more answers. Varcoe kicked his third. Jimmy B secured the Norm Smith with his 3rd from outside 50. Stevie J snapped his fourth from the boundary and even Lingy got one. The Cats were home. The Magpies had been gallant but in the end were over-run by a Geelong team who defied all the critics and doubters.
Darlow and I shared several man-hugs as the Cats raced away to the flag and Sport Boy and I hugged and cheered and laughed and cried as our favourite song rang out, “We are Geelong, the Greatest team of all…”


  1. johnharms says:

    Marcus, thanks for your contributions all season. How did you lose your job over the GF in 2009?

  2. How can it be? I’ve watched the replay, or parts of it, that many times, and read every possible report on the GF and still get caught up in the emotion when reading yet another article.

    Thanks Marcus. And welcome home.

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