AFL Round 10 – Geelong v North Melbourne: No Carey, no North.

 

Geelong Cats versus North Melbourne

7.50pm, Friday, 23 May

Simonds Stadium, Geelong

Back when the King was on the throne, journeys down the highway were generally pleasant and successful outings. North went a decade or so without losing at Kardinia Park, the most memorable victory coming on a freezing, sleeting Sunday afternoon in the early 2000s, attended faithfully by myself and various family members. Early on, against the boundary, Carey dropped the wet ball delicately, deliberately, across his body, onto the inner portion of his right boot, skidding it through from fifty. Besides Daicos’ outside of the boot effort in the drawn final at Waverley against West Coast in 1990, the best goal I’ve seen.

After the game, we dried our clothes in front of Aunty Helen’s fire in Bannockburn, before heading to cousin Moose’s local pub for a feed. With the highway flooded, we crawled back to Melbourne via back roads, to repeated renditions of Join in the Chorus. It was a memorable victory and an experience that still rates a mention at family gatherings.

Today, in order to avoid Melbourne’s peak hour, I get on the road early and arrive in Geelong as dusk moves in. I take a stroll on the waterfront, ending up at the yacht club, for an egg and bacon roll (if you haven’t tried it, do). Through the glass doors, the bay is sparkling, flat and peaceful and boats bob quietly in the marina.

With game-time approaching, I find a park down a darkened street a few blocks up the hill from the Polly Farmer Gate. I discover an old bluestone workers pub on the opposite corner, and light and movement from behind the stained windows beckon me inside.

The pub is empty save for five blokes rusted to the bar. Conversation immediately halts and everyone turns to give me the once over.

‘Go Cats!’ third in line along the bar, in a high-viz jacket yells playfully, breaking the silence and opening an exchange of good-natured cheek.

‘Should I leave?’ I reply with a laugh, pointing to my North jumper.

‘Nah, you’re right, mate.’

I settle in for a few quiet ones, a chat and the raffle. These blokes have met up here every Friday night for years. Look forward to it, they say. I can tell. It’s in their eyes and smiles and the ease in which they interact. The Black Hatt offers warmth, relief and friendship. They’re younger versions of the crusty Royboys who inhabit the Napier Arms in the ABC’s version of Peter Temple’s Jack Irish.

‘Pop in after the game, we’ll have a band going,’ they say as I head for the door.

In the standing room section, Melbourne end goals, I hook up with fellow Almanackers, J Harms, C Down, J Dunne, and rose amongst the thorns, H Fithall. It’s a still, clear evening and the Cattery is looking a treat for its first Friday night game. How things have changed down this way since the King’s reign ended.

This is an important game. Geelong is coming off a disappointing loss to Fremantle and I’m hoping the return journey across the continent, and the suspension of Stevie J, will deplete them.

Doubt hangs over North. In an inconsistent season, heartwarming wins over premiership contenders have been cancelled out by timid defeats. I’m wondering what attitude North will bring under the spotlight tonight.

Lindsay kicks the first, however it’s Geelong who has the better intent. Bartel and Kelly clear the centre and roam. Mackie and Varcoe run unhindered; Selwood’s up forward, which has thrown North; and Hawkins presents strongly.

North isn’t working hard enough and is therefore outnumbered. Typical of this season, panic sets in under pressure.

The Cats score from turnovers and lead by 21 at quarter-time.

Geelong’s intensity continues. Strong tackling is followed by excellent delivery to Hawkins, who dominates Thompson, kicking two and contributing others. He looks to be growing physically larger with each passing minute.

Boomer and Jack are battling; others have stage fright. We are top heavy up forward. Drew is too conscious of opponents; Black is looking for easy kicks out wide; Majak is spilling marks.

The margin is 35 points at half-time and the Geelong Almanackers are chirpy.

North’s contested work improves in the second half. Nahas contributes, as he has each game this year. Levi crashes in; Bastinac, on for the injured Tippett, kicks two. North maintains the spirit, keeping Geelong’s attention until the end, however the fact it failed to match the home team’s physicality from the start, is more telling.

Margin, 20 points.

Ultimately, Geelong wanted to win more. Lonergan, Selwood and Bartel collected the hits and bloodied faces, and Hawkins was best on ground for his early dominance and for assisting Blicav with the sealer. Footy is still about the big men up the spine.

This match confirmed North are well off the pace, bunched somewhere in that mid-ladder group. Also highlighted was the value of the second tier and younger players of each club. While Atley, Wright, Adams and Goldstein are treading water at North, in contrast, Geelong’s future is safe with Motlop, Duncan, Guthrie and others.

Keen to get back on the road, I give the Black Hatt a miss. But I’ll definitely drop in next year when North are in town, and I reckon those same blokes will still be rusted to the bar. Hope so.

GEELONG 5.5 10.9 13.14 16.15 (111)

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 5.4 9.8 13.13 (91)

GOALS

Geelong: Hawkins 4; Murdoch, Bartel, Duncan 2; Selwood, Stringer, Enright, Horlin-Smith, Motlop, Blicavs.

North Melbourne: Thomas, Petrie 3; Bastinac, Nahas 2; Black, Ziebell, Daw.

BEST

Geelong: Hawkins, Bartel, Kelly, Guthrie, Selwood, Motlop, Rivers.

North Melbourne: Harvey, Ziebell, Nahas, Greenwood.

Umpires:Donlon, Stevic, Armstrong Official crowd: 27,402 at Simonds Stadium

Our Votes; 3 – Hawkins (Gee), 2 – Bartel (Gee), 1 – Kelly (Gee).

 

Comments

  1. Another great article Andrew :)

  2. Andrew Gaylard says

    Classic Almanac stuff, Andrew. I assume from your description of its possie that the Black Hatt is a rebadged version of the lamented and less stupidly named De La Ville, but thankfully with some of the same old clientele.

    I remember the game you describe – it sticks in my memory as the wettest game (challenged only by a Freo clash a couple of years later) at KP of modern times. The rain filled your ranch boots after filtering through the back of your jeans on the way down. As I recall, the Cats were well down at quarter-time, at which point Mark Thompson must have explained to all the young kittens how you are supposed to play in such conditions, because they held their own after that.

  3. Thanks for the memories of the King, Andrew.
    Ah, those were the days.

    “Typical of this season, panic sets in under pressure.”
    Typical of the last fews years, I reckon.

    We just are not good enough. Pure and simple.

  4. DBalassone says

    Nice work AS, and great to see the Marvel get a mention. Another great Carey goal that springs to mind is that night against Essendon in ’99 when he booted 10, the best of which was a left foot banana on the run from the boundary. I’ve never seen Daicos, Jarman or Aka do that, let alone a 6 foot 4 power forward.

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