AFL Preliminary Final – Hawthorn v Geelong: Brown and Gold bunnies

Two pieces of toast for breakfast. Black coffee. I don’t feel quite right.

Maybe it was last night’s beer, Mady suggested. Mady is my wife.

No, I only had four. It’s the prelim tonight, I tell her.

I’m not nervous at the prospect of failure. If we lose tonight, we’ll dust ourselves off and front up for next season. Disappointed, yes, but finals failure is not as catastrophic to the Geelong mindset as it once was.

I’m excited at what lies ahead. The season is over for 14 other clubs – the possibilities remain alive for four. You could have lost in the first week of the finals like Geelong; or continue to lose players like Sydney; but they’re still there and that tantalising prospect of another flag remains within reach. One win from a grand final in a game that has troubled many teams before.

*****

A quick email to Big Pomp. Big Pomp wears brown and gold. You must be nervous, I tell him.

“Actually feel a bit crook in the guts – I don’t know if it’s the 4 Monteith’s Pale Ales I had last night or nerves.” Must be going around.

*****

Big Pomp and his Hawthorn cohorts are right to feel nervous. The Hawks are Geelong’s bunnies for a reason. You don’t lose 11 straight – under all circumstances – by accident. Why should the run end tonight?

The Kennett Curse is an unfortunate weight to drag into a game loaded with pressure. Geelong fans know this pressure. If we’d won one flag in 2007, it would have been a waste of talent. Then two flags wouldn’t have been enough, the club needed a third. This is being said of Hawthorn. More pressure to win. So much pressure and blokes like Puopolo who can’t handle it.

I’ve seen the Kennett Curse. It’s not a myth; it’s an entity with a particular liking for the MCG. I saw it last year on August 3. It was Round 19; there were 30 seconds to play in the third quarter of a Friday night match. Cyril was sprinting from his defensive half towards an unguarded goal. Instead of inspiring his team and kicking for goal, he glanced over his shoulder. And there it was. It wasn’t the sight of Harry Taylor chugging behind that spooked him; it was the Kennett Curse. Cyril saw it. He’ll see it again tonight.

*****

Why does Tom Lonergan own Buddy? Lonergan is a very good defender, albeit with moments of nervousness which can lead to free kicks. Buddy gives him so much confidence. Lonergan knows Buddy will opt out of any physical contest. If Buddy slips away, Lonergan will receive help from the Kennett Curse, already lodged between the Big 23’s ears.

*****

Varcoe is horribly out of form. Will he be P.Flynn’s Difference tonight? (Flynn called for the Difference to be the difference against Fremantle in the first final – it wasn’t to be.) Varcoe is not alone – half of Geelong’s team has been out of form. I don’t buy the argument that they played themselves into form in the second half of last week’s match against Port. They won that game with five goals in quick time in the third quarter. Varcoe and Pods and Christensen and Duncan could go missing tonight; or they could find touch and run and run. Some showed a little more touch against Port. Big games can bring out the best and worst in players. It’s another reason for this morning’s excitement. Will they fire or not?

*****

They’re a good side, Hawthorn. They looked brilliant against Sydney. As good as they’ve looked all year – a year in which they’ve only dropped three games. Two of those have been against Geelong.

Productivity is low today. Tonight can’t come quickly enough.

 

 

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety

Comments

  1. Big Fella,

    Sure who could forget Puopolo’s atrocious attempt of the mid air goal in the final minute of Round 19, but I think he is made of stronger stuff this year. The threat of looming mad monday celebrations mixed with his short stature, ole Poppy will be switched on.

    He will be like a pitbull on a poodle tonight. That poodle being Geelong.

  2. I haven’t been this keen ahead of a preliminary final since the 2010 match against Collingwood.

  3. Now there’s a sobering thought, Cookie.

    I believe that the Catters loss that night was the most humiliating 7-goal loss any team has suffered in the history of football. Felt like a 17-goal thumping to me.

    Hopefully our boys are keener this evening than they were that night.

  4. Had it pointed out to me that last year a team went into a Prelim facing an opponent to whom they had lost 11-on-the-trot.
    That team overcame their hoodoo.
    Then won the flag.
    What are the chances?

  5. ER,
    Collingwood lose to everyone when it counts. That statistic has no relevance here.
    Regards,

  6. Neil Belford says:

    Dr Neil diagnoses pathological denial.
    But I hope you’re right because I’m sure whoever wins in Perth wants to get the Cats

  7. Well done Hawthorn. Super effort, Geelong. Super season

  8. Cats lost it. Hawks didn’t win it.
    Trying to defend a lead is fatal. Cats midfield were either exhausted or thought they had it won. Stopped running and that took pressure off Hawks and let them set up.
    Great game.
    Podsiadly??? Franklin??? Roughead is the Greg Norman of footy.
    Burgoyne, Mitchell, Hale, Gibson, Birchall were great – but too many passengers to win a GF.
    Get on the Dockers at the price.

  9. If the Hawks can’t win you over with that game Mr Peter B then so be it. The Cats did lose it but only because the Hawks won it. The Hawks had 12 scoring shots to the Cats 2 in the last. They didn’t stop. They are the Energizer Bunnies! And where you see passengers I see depth. We’re a happy team at Hawthorn!

  10. Sean Gorman says:

    I dont concur with Toasters out of sheer principle usually but PB is 100% correct.

  11. Cookie,

    What a cracker!

    Respect.

  12. I was there and it was the best Prelim Final since Bucky’s goal after the siren in ’87.

    It was great to win, not just to get into a GF, but to silence those Geelong supporters who in recent seasons had grown from hopeful and likable types to cocky, annoying and arrogant. The constant jibes at Hawthorn were starting to wear thin and I have a long memory for those that engaged in that pursuit.

    We did steal a premiership from the greatest side to ever reach a GF in 2008 (the Cats with 23 wins, 1 loss and a percentage in the stratosphere) and we had a president who just doesn’t know when to shut up but Geelong fans just need to get over that. The cup was engraved and will still read the same in 100 years.

    Geelong is a superb side with a brilliant culture and they will be back again next year and for a long time yet. There is no side in the AFL that I respect more but thank god the final scoreline was in our favour at last.

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    As a Neutral who was barracking for Geelong I don’t concur overall with that Geelonh lost it and that Hawthorh didn’t win it . Mitchell and Burgoyne got on top and if Geelong had won the overwhelming point being made is that Hawthorns poor kicking for Goal had cost them the Game you don’t have that much more of the ball more inside 50tees and
    Scoring shots and be lucky to win mind you I reckon the other guy who would have been spewing when Varcoe choked is Ross Lyon he would have loved extra time !

  14. The Hawks won that. More scoring shots, a tremendous effort to come from 20 points down…The Cats didn’t lose it. Excruciating game to watch, not helped by the fact you’re well up with a quarter to go and start to dream of the following weekend.

    I’m strangely at peace with the world this morning.

    Well done Big Pomp, Rick Kane, Sasha, Aussie 80s, and all Hawks fans.

  15. Steve Fahey says:

    Magnificent game of footy, plaudits to both teams. As a neutral, couldn’t have hoped for a better game.

    Ludicrous to say that the Cats lost it when all the indicators pointed in the other direction, e.g. scoring shots 32-22, Inside 50 64-42, albeit the latter is a measure of quantity rather than depth or quality of entries.

    Fantastic performance by Mitchell…again. A genuine superstar. I was sitting in the front row of the ground level of the MCC right next to the interchange benches. When the 3/4 time siren went, with the Hawks looking like they were in a spot of bother, Mitchell bounced to his feet from the interchange bench, made the other blokes run out to the huddle and geed up the whole interchange bench/support staff. He then followed that up with 11 last quarter possessions on top of his previous 27. Inspirational, as was Stevie J.

    One more like that next Saturday please !!

  16. Losing with grace: Stephen Cooke, you’re a true gentleman.

    I hate them with a passion, but have to admire the Hawks for coming back like that. And doing it with the Kennett curse in the equation makes it all the more meritorious, I just hope and pray Freo* will fix them up next week.

    * sorry Sydney … can’t see u doing it tonight.

  17. Earl O'Neill says:

    Absolute cracker of a match Shame about the result but ‘good for football.’ Seemed like the Cats just ran out of puff at the end.

  18. Great Prelim Final. Shame one team had to lose in the end.
    Although I’m a North member, I admire both teams and clubs and respect their supporters (except the ferals!).
    Always try to get to the games whenever North plays the Cats or the Hawks.
    I worry about my second team, the Swannies – yes, I used to be a Swans’ supporter until the good doctor turned up with his blonde bimbo and pink helicopter back in the 80s.
    I fear a ruthless, Ross Lyon-led, Freo outfit is going to smash them tonight.
    If it happens and Freo is relatively intact for the GF – the game should be a beauty, with the Hawks better-placed to out-muscle them than the Cats would have been.
    All will be revealed!

  19. As usual Stainless went a bit early with a lament that Geelong had been handed the game by that ridiculous out on the full non-decision right on 3/4 time. I’m pleased Hawthorn won if only because it’s spared us from a controversial umpiring call overshadowing a wonderful game.

    To the supporters of both teams, please, don’t argue the toss about whether the game was won or lost. Neither of these teams knows how to lose. The second half should be compulsory viewing for teams like Richmond to learn about how to handle pressure.

  20. No mention of the 3 dubious frees in front of goal to Cats the week before? Cats or goldfish? Great game, not enough injuries or suspensions for supporters of other teams.

  21. Hard to pick a team this week (GF). The Hitlers or the Stalins?

  22. Neil Belford says:

    Well we all know who won the Battle of Moscow. I would say the historical precedent is looking pretty good.

  23. We should grow out of the “close game is a good game” fallacy. It was haphazard, panicky (despite a general lack of pressure) and mistake-ridden; lost rather than won.
    A blot. A disgrace. I felt dirty just watching it. Imagine if Chapman had played.

    Who? Me? Freo??

  24. Very amusing David. And go Freo!!!!!!!

  25. Grant Fraser says:

    I am amazed at the reaction from many Geelong supporters to Hawthorn finally winning one of these epic battles. I know many Hawthorn supporters, like myself, have huge admiration for the Cats but were sick of losing the close ones. The outpouring of “hope Freo wins/we lost it you didn’t win it” astounds me. They are beautifully matched teams who are a credit to the game. Perhaps use the power of your emotion to join us in lobbying Andreas to change the Anzac Day fixture to these two worthy teams.

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