I have a confession to make.

I’ve never actually been to Geelong.  I live in the far southern Sydney suburbs, and the closest I have been to the Holy Town is Avalon, en route to games at the G or Etihad.

That is about to change.

I’ve managed to cash in my accumulated surplus of Frequent Family Points & have brought my birthday (in early October) & Fathers’ Day forward to 6 August, so that my first ever visit will coincide with The Return of Gazza.

I’ll leave my home at 4:45am to walk up to my local train station & catch the first of 4 Sydney trains for the day.  The Jet* flight lands at Avalon at 8:35am, so presumably I’ll be off the airport shuffle service at the Corio Bay waterfront by 9(ish), looking for long lines of seagulls .

The airport shuffle will collect me later – somewhere in Geelong – at 6:45pm for the 8:45 flight to Sydney, and I’ll step back inside my home at 11:45pm.  Unless, as per after the Essendon game, air traffic congestion above Sydney delays my flight home by 90+ minutes.

I’ve managed to get all this (so far) for $167.

Now’s where I need some advice:

* when do the tickets for that game go on sale?  And how hard will it be to score: I am a member, so hopefully I can get one.

* where’s the best place to sit?  I’d love to get front row seats next to (or, praise be, even in) the cheer squad, but I imagine that those seats are next to impossible to obtain.  But anywhere where I can share my passion for the hoops with other erudite devotees will make the day a special one.  (And I should point out that I won’t be booing the prodigal, as I do go to the footy only to cheer or appreciate what I see.)

* in my three or so hours between getting off the airport shuffle & getting to the sacred ground (is 12 noon logical for the latter, especially as I do intend to make a reasonable contribution to the Cat Store’s bottom line?), what should I do to get a feel for Geelong, and the people that live there?

* any recommendations where to get a good value meal (or 3)?

* where do my fellow Catters congregate before and after the game?  I’ve never had the chance to actually meet fellow Pivotonians, so my passion for the club has been painfully free of direct human contact other than via a computer screen or fleetingly at Swans’ home games.  I did try to link up with Almanackers at the Essendon game, but nobody responded so that became another solitary experience.

This is really my pilgrimage to that place where my soul takes flight, so all assistance will be gratefully accepted.



About Richard Naco

We are Geelong.


  1. johnharms says


    Best advice regarding understanding the people of Geelong is to get a copy of the Addie from 1886, and maybe peruse one from 1937 as well, and then follow up with a look at the papers form the early `50s. The town and region have a wonderful history. And as one Hawthorn wag suggested in the pissoir under the terrace during heritage round a few years ago, “Every week’s heritage round in Geelong”.

    You can’t go wrong with the pubs. P. Flynn is a sawyers Arms boy which is warm and cosy, has re-runs of the 63 Grand Final on continuous loop, and you get Sunday’s hymn numbers with a bowl of soup or the parma. Next to it is the Caledonian, but there are many others including the Lord of the Isles and Billy’s pub, the Valley View. All are designed to cater for the seventh generation footy fan – so you think they’d have it right.

  2. Richard,

    for one moment stop and imagine how Neil Armstrong felt as he first stepped on to the surface of the moon.

    Then multiply that about a million times and you will be close.

  3. Andrew Fithall says

    Richard. For a trip Sydney to Geelong, I would first book my flight with Tiger Airways… and then stay in Sydney.

  4. Skip of Skipton says

    Being an ex-pat Pivotonian, I will correct Mr. Harms. The Clarendon is the pub on La Trobe Tce opposite K-Park near the Sawyer’s. The Caledonian in Little Ryrie St is these days a titty-bar and goes by another name. On the Moorabool St side of the ground there is the Barwon Club, and a block or so east is the Valley Inn. Take your pick of any of those watering holes. All will be busy before and after a game. Of course if you really want to get a feel for Geelong and the people that live there, I suggest the early-opener, the De La Ville at the top of town, above the ground. P.S. Buy a standing room ticket for the Gary Ablett (snr) Terrace at the city end.

  5. Nice one Andrew,

    obviously the Collingwood ‘we don’t travel’ mindset has filtered through to their drones.

  6. Mark Doyle says

    I am sure you will have a good day at Skilled Stadium in Geelong watching the cats. It is a great venue. With respect to John Harm’s suggestion of reading the Addie, I don’t believe this to necessary; it is a very similar newspaper to the Sydney Tele. or the Melbourne Herald/Sun. With respect to Andrew Fitnall’s cheap comment, I am always bemused at these types of comments made by Melbourne people about places in different parts of the country such as parts of Geelong, Sydney, Tasmania and Adelaide. There are parts of Melbourne and especially the Collingwood heartland of northern suburbs such as Reservoir, Greensborough, Lalor and West Heidelberg which are an ugly cultural wasteland.

  7. Andrew Fithall says

    Let it be noted that twasn’t me who associated Geelong and cultural wasteland in the same post. I will admit my earlier comment was a cheap shot. I have nothing against Geelong. Some of my best friends have visited there.

  8. Clearsighted says

    Glad you have some friends Andrew (presumably Collingwood folk like yourself), and that they have visited Geelong.
    What did they think of Barwon Prison?

  9. Andrew Fithall says

    They are doing very nicely thank-you Clearsighted. The morning stretching and bending classes are increasing their flexibility. The free dental plan is being well utilised. And once they coordinate the alternating visiting days between the missus and the girlfriend, it is almost domestic bliss.

    Sorry for distracting you from your stated objective Richard. Obviously Geelong has much to offer.

  10. A good mate of mine works at Barwon Prison. I will point out that he and his colleagues are very sharp and check suitcases after conjugal visits so contrary to the opinion of uppety city folk, we Geelong people are no Mexicans.

    Re: Clarendon Hotel – it would appear to be no longer in operation given the boards across the windows.

    Post -game, the Lamby’s tent at the river end of the ground went alright, but as I sit at the city end and have not ventured down to the river end for a couple of years, I’m not sure if it still operates.

    You may find it difficult to get a ticket for that game. Best you contact the Club as soon as you can to find out.

  11. Richard Naco says

    Thanks for the advice (and hilarious digressions & inevitable by-play). Have enjoyed the lot so far and hope there’s more to come.

    Ticket was secured tonight (and there’s not many left at all): Brownlow Stand, Bay A, Row B, Seat #Josh Hunt. The sun might be an issue (so here’s hoping for clouds), but it’ll be good to be right up close to the action. Mine was the first AFL Members’ ticket ever sold at the Sydney Entertainment Centre Ticketmaster outlet, & it was hilarious watching the synchronised diving into manuals.

    At least that trio now know where Skilled Stadium is, and to not spell Geelong with a J or I.

  12. May the force be with you Richard.

    And there is, of course, no chance of any of those boisterous ‘Bar Codes’ being there to ruin your day.

  13. Alovesupreme says

    I’m sure that you’ll have a great day, and I’d be disappointed if the Almanacker community failed to offer you transport between Avalon and Kardinia Park, as well as hospitality.
    The last time I was at the ground was with a Cats’ supporting mate from Queensland. He’d been in Melbourne for a conference which ended on Friday. I picked him in the CBD on Satruday morning and we drove to the ground. I was able to drop him back at Avalon in plenty of time for his flight, warmed in spite of a freezing wet day standing in the forward pocket. The Cats flogged Port Adelaide on that occasion. Many happy memories of watching footy at Geelong, my first time, Round 1, 1959.
    I enjoyed your tale of the ticket purchase, educating Sydney-based folk about the details and nuances of our game is important.

  14. A minor miracle…I drove past the Clarendon this evening and it has risen again. Perhaps a portent in the offing. The return of the son of you know who….

  15. Richard Naco says

    My track record of actually meeting Almanackers in the two seasons here is quite derisory. I’m yet to break my duck, despite wailing in the wilderness about being in Melbourne the weekend before last. I’d really love to put faces to names, but I’m not holding my breath at all.

    I’m not actually sure that you lot exist, and am becoming increasingly convinced that you’re all figments of a demented imagination (mine). I do respect the fact that you’re very literary delusions, and it’s somewhat reassuring – in a most peculiar way – that you write instead of whisper weird stuff at inopportune times.

    Just as at the unfortunate game against the Bomber, I am going to pay respects (in an admittedly perverse way) to a former Geelong great. I was sorry to see Gary Ablett & Mark Thompson leave the Pivot, and especially in the way that they did, but nothing could make me have anything but total and utter repspect and gratitude for what they both achieved at the club.

    I didn’t boo Bomber, and I won’t Gazza. But I do hope to be one loud & frightenly atonal voice in a mighty chorus that serenades the Suns’ #9 with that glorious and familiar anthem of triumph (to which he no longer has right of access) at the end of the game.

    After all, money can’t buy everything (but it does help with the deposit).

  16. Richard Naco says

    Right, sorry about the blatant threadomancy, but the time has come.

    As one vulture would say to another (if they didn’t all have lisps & speak very poor Latin): “Patience be buggered: I’m going to kill something!”

    The plot for this manouver was hatched about three months ago, Frequent Family Points were assiduously earnt (especially through Mother’s Day and Beloved Wife’s birthday), and now the fruition of one mad lonely Catter’s dream is nigh. I’m happier than a kid in a candy store right now.

    The Dee Lite Full entree has been well & truly scoffed, and it’s time to devour Sun Thing else.

    So who is going to s’Killed Stadium this week, & where are we all meeting before the game? (But after my making appropriate contributions to the Cat Shop’s bottom line?)

  17. Skip of Skipton says

    Be warned Pilgrim. The weather forecast at this point is for 90% chance of rain, so I’d be buying a poncho at the Cats Shop if I were you. The first bounce has been brought forward a 1/2 hour to 1:40p.m. to counter-act the bad light that occurred last Saturday. I kid you not.

  18. Richard Naco says

    All understood. Current weather forecast for Satrurday is max 14 degrees, cloudy, with a 40% chance of showers (Sydney’s is almost identical for that day).

    I am a winter person (and have lived in Canberra’s glorious winters in the past), & the climate will have more impact on those from more northern climes than I.

    I was also aware of the earlier starting time, and am taking a torch in case the ground needs more lighting late in the game.

Leave a Comment