Under the arrogant exterior, we Cats supporters still get nervous

 

by Daniel Paproth

I’m nervous before this Easter Monday clash. I’m always nervous before Geelong/Hawthorn matches. Even though my arrogance and joking over-confidence always win out, deep down, I feel the same as many other Cats fans – 08 still hurts.

 

09 and 11 more than made up for that loss, mind you. And, through some sort of dumb luck, I decided much earlier in the afternoon of that final Saturday in September in 08 that I would hit the beers harder than usual. It was a decision that paid off; I was just slightly too inebriated to be as shattered as I had been in 04 and 05, when we lost close finals to Brisbane and Sydney respectively (people always forget those two years when talking about Geelong’s dominance; if only Ben Graham had kicked straight, if only Nick Davis hadn’t suddenly turned into the greatest footballer in history in the last quarter, we might inarguably have been the best side in the history of the game), who both went on to win the premierships in those years.

 

But yes, despite what every Geelong supporter will tell you to your face, we’re still stung by the 08 grand final loss. And that’s why, in spite of our incredible record over the Hawks since that game, I still get more nervous than against any other side.

 

Before the game begins I sit down with a Carlton Dry Lemon Fusion and watch the Stawell Gift finals. Melissa Breen wins the women’s from scratch, while John Steffensen, arrogant ever, pulls up short after realising he’s going to lose to #ballaratmatt [Ballarat’s Matthew Wiltshire] in the men’s.

 

And now the footy. Shocking conditions, which I don’t mind. It always seems to favour the Cats; Jimmy Bartel loves the wet so much you’d think he’d be able to withstand waterboarding. We kick a couple, they kick a couple, and it’s obvious that once again, this is going to be a match decided by only a few goals.

 

Buddy looks dangerous early, but keeps missing, and Tom “One Kidney” Lonergan is doing an admirable job of keeping him in check. Delicious Cyril is nowhere to be seen. It doesn’t really matter though, because Sam Mitchell is doing it all himself, and at one stage has 18 possessions with eight minutes of the second quarter still to go. Hawthorn takes a nine-point lead into the main break, gets almost four goals ahead before we bring it back, and then gallops away to lead by 18 at three-quarter time.

 

In the late nineties and early-to-mid naughties I would have watched the first five minutes before switching it off, knowing we’d lose by six or seven or more goals. But 2007 changed all that. I was still surprisingly confident, and it turned out that was with good reason.

 

Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel do the hard yards in the middle of the ground, the former with his head bandaged after being knocked three or four times and the latter showing his trademark, remarkable composure in wet conditions. Up forward James Podsiadly is dominating (and kicking straight!!) and Tom Hawkins, well. For years Cats fans kept their faith in the Tomahawk. Only a sliver, mind you, and many lost faith. But 2011 was his annus mirabilis, and now those fans who held on are being rewarded in spades. He takes screamers where before he would have been metres behind the packs; he kicks goals where before fans had already averted their eyes to where the full back would kick out to. He would have been a worthy Norm Smith Medallist last year (not to say Jimmy wasn’t) and it was perhaps the most exciting aspect of the win – our imaginations are running wild, just thinking about what the man mountain from Finley could become.

About Daniel Paproth

Auskick superstar. Melbourne Weekly writer. World's whitest Outkast fan. Arrogant Geelong supporter (hey, we've earned it).

Comments

  1. Great write up, Pappy! I think you’ve captured the mindset of Cats supporters perfectly. This is the one match-up we dread above all others. As great as the contests are, I think we all fear them – just a little. I loathe to think what it will be like when we lost to them, as inevitably we must. Hopefully it’s not for a while yet.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your work on here! It’s always a good read :-)

    p.s. “Annus mirabilis”? Amanda would be proud :P (first year P&C Writing)

  2. Thanks Susie! Yes, Amanda would be proud, the crazy old bat. Not sure I’ll ever read that story she was writing about chemical synthesis or whatever it was.

    By the way I hate writing footy previews too. I used “juxtaposed” with a lot of frequency.

  3. Richard Naco says:

    Any perceived arrogance is an act, and as the majority of Hawks’ fans I know and read on-line still call us “handbags”, it’s obviously not that convincing an act.

    I identify more with Corey Enright, who when congratulated by ABC Radio after the game responded, “Nah, we were lucky”. The deep humility of the team is what appeals to me, and the respect in which they hold every opponent is, for me, the beau ideal.

    I sat here om Monday as the skies darkened, alone & a thousand kilometres up the Princes Highway from Kardinia Park, with a lump in my throat at the sheer impossible courage of our very depleted team as they clawed their way back from the abyss against an incredibly formidable opponent.

    And when that siren heralded a glorious triumph, I stood here and screamed in sheer relief.

    It was then that I knew that although GWS has assumed the place of my home team geographically, the Cats will ever be the home team of my heart.

  4. Dennis Gedling says:

    I haven’t seen the Cats sing the team song in the room after the game with that much enthusiasum after a H and A game for quite some time, we do love a win against the Hawks and by the end of this one I thnk some of were celebrating like a final win in round 2.

    Just something to point out, Port won in 2004 but you’re right, we’ve there or abouts for almost 8 years now!

  5. Thanks for the comments guys!

    Dennis, you are completely right – what a gigantic oversight for a football nerd like myself. My point was meant to be that had we won those games, we could very well have won the premierships. I guess I’ve been equating Port Adelaide with their 2011 form. ;)

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