A short history of Geelong

The narrow yet convincing triumph over the Magpie juggernaut in round 8 instilled a belief in Cats fans that Collingwood could do a ‘Devon Loch’. Geelong’s final round devouring of the Pies was surely make-believe. Watching it in Galle, Sri Lanka, I thought it was a fix. And I reckon this anomalous result muddied pre-Grand Final analysis and prognostication.

So many glowingly warm narratives would be attached to a Geelong Premiership. What about the Pod’s transformation from a kick-to-kick training drill participant to a lynchpin power forward? What of Tom Lonergan losing a kidney, flirting with the tripwire of being delisted and eventually developing into a valued hooped foot-soldier? And then there is the meticulous, prescient and self-deprecating Chris Scott. With Bobby Davis intonation, can he do a fair dinkum Charlie Clymo?

After a pre-game feast of cheese, crackers and cabana, little boys, party pies and sausage rolls, the family gathers in anticipation for the first bounce. Meat Loaf’s ‘performance’ stinks like a three-day-old bucket of prawns. Mum’s critique of the Loaf amounts to a less than glowing, ‘I wouldn’t pay two-bob for this shit’.

Despite recent form pointing to Geelong supremacy, Mum and I, shaped by neurotransmitters that circulate pessimism, begin to sip with exponentially increasing frequently. Susan supports Collingwood. Johnnyboy nostalgically wishes that George Goninon was playing.

Collingwood set up in a Live Savers defensive formation. Ottens puts the ball in the direction of Selwood who sets up Varcoe to stream into an open goal. What a start? After about ten seconds, Varcoe becomes every publican’s saviour by promptly ceasing free-beer-until-first-goal-is-kicked promotions.

The first four goals of the game are kicked by a Travis. Two originate from the boot of the talismanic and elusive Varcoe and two from the imposing Cloke. Cloke’s first bomb from the Ronaldson flank is monitored by air traffic control at Melbourne Airport.

During the week, Johnno’s knee was discussed as much as Polly’s once was. It doesn’t take him long to demonstrate his superior understanding of footy space-time. Johnno knocks the ball over a pack, receives the ball back from a Stokes sleight-of-hand tap and then nails the goal. He is football’s Ramanujan. At primary school, he would have regaled his mates with all manner of yo-yo, marble, card and footy tricks.

Up until midway through the second term when the Pod is carried off, Collingwood, predominantly through their tried-and-true Buffalo Gals methodology, outplay Geelong. Geelong’s tall forwards have hands as hard as cymbals. Cloke kicks his third goal from his pet distance of 71 metres out on a 71 degree angle. Krakouer kicks a Goninon goal and then marks a la Royce Hart.

Geelong is now three goals down and appear in some strife. Enter champion footballers whose resolve and will to win is close to unparalleled. A Bartel handball, with four blokes on him, results in a goal to Stokes. Christensen, after receiving a scrubby five metre kick of genius from Johnno, crosses to Selwood who goals. Bartel, a modern-day Denis Marshall, then kicks a clutch Johnno-inspired snap from the boundary. His goalkicking is as good as his marking. The ball traces out a beautiful curve.

The third quarter ranks amongst the greats. Wellingham ‘posts’ a goal like Hawkins did against St Kilda in 2009. Hawkins comes of age before our eyes. He’s like a student who suddenly comprehends the fundamental theorem of calculus. An uncanny Bartel toe poke to Stokes results in a frustrating miss. A Bartel handball then releases Duncan who goals on the run. The ubiquitous Bartel (who else?) then takes a courageous mark and goals from the pocket.

Then comes the moment.

Christensen marks like Billy Ryan on the half-back flank and hits the ground running. He releases Bartel who sets up Duncan. Expert bodywork from Ottens allows Hawkins to kick his third for the quarter.

Hawkins dons a superman cape and immediately renders Mick Malt(Mad)house’s ‘it’s all about me three-quarter time address’ redundant. Hawkins takes four strong marks in the first seven minutes of the last quarter. The passing of the parcel to Johnno for a goal was missed by many still fretting over Hawkins’s recent inaccuracy.

Amidst all the eye-catching goings-on, Lonergan unobtrusively keeps Cloke to one mark for the second-half. And Ling clips the wings of the hitherto unstoppable Dane Swan. These two are unsung heroes.

Varcoe stands courageously under a floater at centre half-back, then follows up on the play; toe pokes to advantage and then arguably kicks the goal of the afternoon.




Toe poking has to become a Champion Data metric. I’m starting to consider the toe poke to be the bellwether to flag success.

Nervous sips become celebratory gulps. Bartel delivers the killer blow with a biomechanically perfect Darren Jarman kick from just outside fifty. Johnno snags his fourth with a now de rigueur around-the-body-special and Ling fittingly finishing things off.


These Cats enter feline immortality.

Can you believe it? It is 18 goals to 12. Just like the much-lauded 1937 Grand Final when Geelong kicked away from Collingwood at the final change.

Like Beckenbauer was to West Germany, Scarlett is Der Kaiser of the backline. Chappy is still as reliable as a TGV train. Selwood, Corey, Enright, Bartel, Ling and Kelly still possess incredible will for the contest. Bartel exhibits the broadest miscellany of football skills. Geelong now has key Toms (Lonergan and Hawkins) as bookends.

Sunday at the Lord of the Isles goes off like a Von Braun V2 rocket. While they seem to race at Te Rapa every five minutes, the main screens replay every bruising contest and piece of Geelong brilliance. Luminaries mix freely with ordinaries. In-depth discussion includes specifying the parameters that constitute a toe poke. There is a suggestion that the collective noun for a toe poke should be a scarlett. Everybody offers their 3-2-1’s and clutch moments.

We all talk shit. It’s the shit that is talked in victory.

A proud ex-Geelong mayor, Jim Fidge, confides that he would be at the pub ‘for some time’.

So hopefully, will Geelong’s mental toughness, skill, artistry and dominance last for some time.



3.         J Bartel

2.         T Hawkins

1.         S Johnson


  1. beautiful stuff flynny.
    your mum should write music reviews.
    in haiku.


  2. Magnificent, Flynny. I felt like I was reliving the entire game again.

    With one fewer kidney than most of us, Lonergan’s chances of getting calculus would be lower than Tom Hawkins’.

  3. Rocket Nguyen says

    Ripper piece.

    Loved the reference to those Cats greats of the 60s.
    Especially Dennis Marshall-Jimmy Bartel.

    Thought for a moment the Cats were going to be cheated of a flag by the Wellingham poster a la Fred Swift’s mark in the front row of the seats behind the goals in 1967.

  4. The 60’s Rocket?

    You’re showing your age!

    How are the Vietnam Swannies looking?

  5. PF – I’m with you 100% – the collective noun for toe pokes should be a ‘scarlett’. Hawkins’ scarlett of pokes in the 3rd were critical as were his jimmy of marks in the last.

    Great read.

  6. Dips.

    It was more like a carey of marks.

    Go Cats.

  7. John Butler says

    Superb Flynny

    I 2nd HB’s recommendation re your mum.

  8. Peter Flynn says

    Thanks Punters.

    The Old Cheese is a straight-shooter.

  9. Damo Balassone says

    Great read Peter.

    But I think we (the Australian football world) have misinterpreted what a toe-poke is. A toe-poke is when the ball is flat on the ground and you poke it with the very end of your footy boot to help it on its way – usually a straight-on kick. A good example is Maradona’s second goal in the ’86 Quarter Final vs. England.

    Neither of Hawkins goals were toe-pokes. The first one was kicked as it was bouncing with the shoelace part of his left boot; the second was kicked side-on with the inside his left boot.

    Note, Scarlet’s in 2009 was also kicked as it was bouncing, with the foot – not the toe. Perhaps a foot-poke is a better description.

    Totally, agree with you about Hawkins coming of age though. That was definitely the feeling at the ground.

  10. Damo,

    if I remember correctly Maradonna’s first goal that day was a pinkie poke.

  11. Very enjoyable. My partner cannot fathom how I can read so much about the same thing and find it all interesting, but I know I am with kindred spirits here.

    Got my DVD the other day and have watched it with the SEN commentary and the MMM commentary. Now just need to watch it with the 3AW commentary. Oh the pain….

    Tommy’s scarletts, Bundy’s mark, Varcoe’s full ground goal, Johnno’s audacity, etc, etc, all become better and better. They are already the stuff of legend…

  12. Peter Flynn says

    G’day Damo,

    Thanks for your words and well-considered comments.

    Are we more liberal with the use of the term toe poke because of odd bounces and an always moving target? I reckon I am.

    I never considered Hawkins’s 2nd goal as a toe poke.

    Do you know about Jimmy Hill (incredible chin) describing a 1982 Scotland World Cup goal (Dave Narey?) as a toe poke? It might be on Youtube. The Scots really cut up rough.



  13. So they weren’t technically toe-pokes.

    But they were goals. Two bloody beauties.

  14. Mighty Flynn, I, m still watching it. If I could get away with it I’d disappear and remerge down at Highton and buy myself a reserved seat and membership at Skilled Stadium. Your Boys were magnificent. And don’t worry about next year. Sure, it will be harder, staying on top is tougher than getting on top. It always has been. But the culture’s in place and you’ve got some great youngsters coming through.

    And those toe pokes. Damo might have a point there. For mine, a toe poke is what Scarllett did against The saints – a short weighted poke – or tap – to advantage (ideally). I feel Hawkins of the Lower 6th actually grubbered the first and slewed the second goalsquare But there was certainly a scarllett of toe pokes on the day, even if you take those two out.

    By favourite is the slap. And haven’t The Moggies perfected that to perfection! Hawkins’ slap to Christensen who lobbed it by foot – now was that a heavily weighted toe poke? – to Selwood in the square was in my humble opinion the turning point of the match. Collingwood never regained the ascendancy after that relentless passage of play.

    BTW, I replay it every opportunity I get. I plan to keep in on the hard drive to help me through the Long Dark Summer.

  15. Great write up Flynny.

    I wonder whether you were sipping your drink when the game began because of anxiety or because of a ridiculous amount of beer consumed (with partners in crime like my good self) the day before at the Almanac lunch, afternoon tea, pre-dinner, dinner and after dinner night cap.

    I can say, from your report and other information at hand, that the Cats GF win compared metaphorically to the day before goings on. For those not present to the end, by sheer coincidence the 4 Almanacers that took it to the wire represented the 4 teams that made up the AFL Top 4. However I can say that Matty Q (representing WC) had a little spew the following morning, I represented the Hawks and was on green tea as the GF began. I’m not fully informed but I’m willing to wager that MOC (representing the Pies) probably did not put in the celebratory drinks that Flynny did on Saturday night. So there we have it. WC -4th, Hawks -3rd, Pies-2nd and the Cats winners. Not as healthy a pursuit as footy I’ll admit but a premiership nonetheless.


  16. The Queen Mother herself (rest in peace) would be proud of the refence, as would champion data

  17. Mum’s view is first class.

  18. Just read about 15 GF reports in a row and yours wins hands down, fantastic read.

    “Cloke’s first bomb from the Ronaldson flank is monitored by air traffic control at Melbourne Airport.” Genius

    I had an English mate who was unimpressed with the adjective “soccered” to describe kicks off the ground in Aussie Rules. I like the Scarlett as collective noun and for mine, it doesn’t matter what type it is, if it isn’t kicked from the hands (clumsy language but you know what I mean) it’s a soccer. Some, like Scarlett’s 2009 dink are more deft/precise/calculated/skilful, others like Tommy’s first in the third are just a sweet combination of timing and physics.

  19. Damo Balassone says

    Peter, you are right re the liberal use of the term – I was probably being a bit of nit-picker and thinking back to my own days as a footballer-turned hack indoor soccer player who kept getting told off by teammates for toe-poking intead of side-footing.

    Nevertheless loved the piece – it gets us talking & thinking – and Marcus is right re the Cloke goal description. Priceless.

  20. I was pleasantly surprised that you could sustain the tempo and quality of your intro through the entire article. Well done.

  21. John Sandy says

    lovely work Sneak!
    can’t believe your calculus call, very funny. Many have already commented on Norma’s no nonsense music review, she said what everyone thought bar Demetriou. The Christensen mark was a ripper and it was right in front of me, i think it was a turning/breaking point in the match.

  22. Steve Fahey says

    Love your work as always Flynny, and am now in doubt where your articulate expression comes from

  23. If Hawkins wanted to call them Fred and Martha I certainly wouldn’t be arguing.

  24. Flynny, I sounded like a school teacher in my previous comment. I’d like to simply say: Cracking intro, awesome article. Cheerio

  25. Peter Flynn says


    No problems.

    Steve F,

    My Old Cheese is very articulate. A spade has always been called a spade.

    R Kane,

    The term M.E.Q is now in the Urban Dictionary.

    Thanks JK,

    The Pies wlll be right in it in 2012. Collingwood unravelled like Geelong in 2008.

    Thanks Marcus and Damo.

  26. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Brilliant Flynny loved the , Beckenbauer Scarlett liason . Lonergans role in the cats golden era should not be underestimated his courage to come back from such a horrific inj and the mental demons involved is significant . Ironically the inj to , J pod helped the cats and , Duncan made a impact . Geelong don’t seem to have any battlers or scrubbers like , Troy Chaplin . The season about to commence , 14 will be interesting to see how the young cats come thru and purely as a footy person ( non cats supporter )
    I wish , D Menzel all the best . Thanks PF

  27. Some light reading during the lunch break Rulebook?

    Spot on re Pod.

    Old Mate Lonergan is an unsung hero.

    This PE pitch is a shocker.


  28. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Disgraceful deck it will be interesting if we are patient enough to bat and bat
    Will Warner bat with a brain ? Ironically we are missing Wattos bowling

  29. My reading exactly.

    I worry about Australia on this wicket.

    The band is giving me the shits.


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