AFL Round 14 – Geelong v Fremantle: Freo will never win the flag – ever (a considered review)

I am no Hemingway. I am thinking of Papa because I am drinking scotch in the most magnificent tumbler; perfect weight. I am also fishing – Fremantle will not win the flag under Ross Lyon. It’s not Lyon’s fault; Fremantle will never win the flag. Lyon will get them closer than anyone.

This is not a ridiculous Matthew Lloyd claim, where he sees a poor Geelong performance against Brisbane and writes them off. It’s not a look-at-me claim by David King, who said the Cats could not win the flag in 2011. It’s a considered claim that says the premiership cup will not be awarded to a bunch of blokes that a) think the world is against them (Ross Lyon TM) and b) know which part of the ground they should be standing at, at any given time.

Defence wins premierships, I agree. But an unbalanced mixture of defence and attack won’t, which is what Fremantle has. Ross Lyon’s St Kilda team of 2009 had the right balance; I think they had the best defence that year and the fourth best attack. Unfortunately (for them), the Grand Final could have gone either way that year and it didn’t fall their way.

These Dockers are too defensive. Clearly, they had some stars out, including their captain. Pavlich would have given them an option tonight if his teammates could get it into their forward 50. They couldn’t. They did it once in the third quarter (the premiership quarter). Which would have meant, Pavlich was switched to the middle to kick it to….?

Pavlich is a star – they said so after the elimination final last year when he kicked six and all the commentators on the east coast said how good he has been over his career. Brilliant, they said. (Much like they said about Enright on the eve of his 250th – “where did this guy come from?”) It’s all about the finals. When you don’t have the opportunity to play in many, you have to make the most of them, and Pavlich did – that game. Against Adelaide the next week, well, luckily the game was in Adelaide so not many saw it.

(Pouring another scotch in lieu of a segue) Is Crowley a good player? Who knows? He’s playing his role. Selwood should be better than the way he reacted during the first quarter and at quarter time tonight. He’s a triple premiership player and the captain. He should get on with it. Fremantle fans, I agree. Selwood should take a leaf out of Bartel’s book. (NB: I love Bartel.) I said to a fellow Geelong-supporter earlier in the Era of Dominance that I would choose Bartel over Ablett. He said no, you need the magic. I thought of Bartel, Ablett and old mate during the 2011 Grand Final. I didn’t feel ill of he or Ablett, I was just happy we had Jimmy. There’s a 50m goal snapped from the boundary during the home and away; and there’s a 50m goal when you’re behind in a Grand Final. He has it all. So Crowley, when you shape up to a Brownlow/Norm Smith medallist and triple premiership player and try that pathetic move attempting to make him flinch, and he doesn’t, just remember you are Ryan Crowley, and he is Jimmy Bartel. (Now where was I?)

Game analysis: My apologies to those waiting so long. Naturally, I was waiting for the Champion Data report to tell me what happened. As it has been delayed, I will have to use my own observations of the game.

Dawson Simpson: What a magnificent lump of a lad. I have read for years how big he is. What is he? 206cm? 212cm? Wide across the shoulders too.  Simpson took two, perhaps three, big marks that showed a bit more than a centre circle oil tanker. It was his 7th game – they know what they’re doing at the Cattery.

I was rapt for Ash McGrath last week. As a 9 year old I would have been wishing for him to miss. Now, in my early to late 30s, I watch a man in his 200th game have a shot after the siren to win the game – how can you not want him to kick it? Geelong fans, am I right?

In a less than magnanimous thought, a miss would have shielded the Geelong players from some of the heat. They needed the loss. I disagree with some very astute Knackers that the Cats can’t win the flag this year. They can, but they need to knuckle down, and if Ash McGrath’s winning goal doesn’t ensure they do, then there is no hope.

Tonight’s game demonstrated that the Cats have learnt a lesson. And I’m glad it was an Ash McGrath kick after the siren that put the Cats back on track, and not a Hayden Ballantyne; or a Buddy Franklin next week. Blue and white Knackers, we’re going to be OK.

I saw many overenthusiastic handballs tonight but that’s the Geelong way. They were instructed to go hell for leather to get ahead of that Lyon defensive press and it worked. They will continue to do it. There was no defence against the Lions. Defence was superb tonight. I’m giddy at our prospects.

GEELONG 11.19 (85) FREMANTLE 7.2 (44)

GOALS: Geelong: Hawkins 2, Motlop 2, Bartel, Murdoch, Podsiadly, Corey, Hunt, Simpson. Fremantle: Walters 3, Mayne, Mzungu, Sheridan, Taberner.

BEST: Geelong: Christensen, Bartel, Enright, Corey, Taylor, Stokes. Fremantle: Fyfe, D Pearce, Clarke.

UMPIRES: Shane Stewart, Mathew Nicholls, Simon Merideth.

OUR BEST: 3. Christensen 2. Corey 1. Bartel

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety


  1. Well I suppose the good thing is that unlike Dave Warner you didn’t tweet or go and out and belt someone after getting a skin full.

  2. Who leaves the club at the end of the year out of West, Vardy, Blicavs, Simpson and McIntosh?

    5 ruckmen don’t fit in one team!

    Cats were very impressive though. 11-2 having apparently ‘played inconsistently and poorly for large periods’ isn’t too shabby.

  3. Freo Pope says

    “Clearly, they had some stars out, including their captain. Pavlich would have given them an option tonight his teammates could get it into their forward 50”

    We were also missing our 3 best ruckmen and 2 best clearance players and then lost our 2 best small defenders before half time. That is why we couldn’t buy an inside 50.

    What the game showed is that we don’t have the depth to cover that amount of depletion. I’d love for Crozier, Michie or Sheridan or Taberner to play like a Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara or even a Cameron Guthrie (incidentally he was taken 21 spots before Michie in the 2010 draft, but that shows what a 29th game vs 1st game looks like), but they aren’t. Not yet.

    And we will win a flag soon. I bet you a big bottle of your choice of scotch that we won’t be waiting 44 years for it. (feel free to contact me in 2039 if we haven’t won one by then)

  4. A win by Geelong @ the Cattery seems a bit of a flat track bully performnace to me. Their run home will guarantee them a top 4 possie, beyond that the future is uwnwriten, but they would be very LUCKY to win the flag. After the disaster at the Gabba, they should be rated no chance of being premiers.

    True Freo had key players missing but the big test of a Ross Lyon side is to close a side down in a finals match on the ‘G’, something his sides have not achieved to the flag winnning degree. His strangling , defensive style has worked on narrow grounds, but on the wide MCG, it is a bit less succesfull; especially on GF day !!


  5. Lachlan Waterman says

    Gee Cookie, any angry pills taken with that Scotch? The Dockers will be in the Premiership mix over the next 2-3 years, a win at the Cattery and they would have been touted as flag chances. You are quite right, solid defence will keep the game tight but you still need the power forwards to break it open. That’s where they struggle. Lyon was assistant coach when Sydney won the GF kicking 9 goals and he’s adopted that approach with the teams he’s coached.

  6. Di Waddingham says

    Please, don’t get me started over this one (and I think you know where I am coming from).

  7. What was it that Papa recommended: two or three good drams fuelled good writing?
    Good writing Cookie.

  8. Rick Kane says

    If I was a Cats fan Cookie I’d be more concerned about the Cats performance at the Cattery on Saturday night than that of the Dockers. The winning score of 85 points was the second lowest winning score of the weekend. The lowest was Sydney in near torrential rain. 2.9 in the Third? I’d be furious, or at least concerned. That’s was in a quarter when the Cats had it in the forward line most of the time. At a ground that is their fortress. Two players made the Cats look a whole lot better than the Dockers than they really were, Jimmy and Harry. Freo looked pretty ordinary last night however they did put an end to the Cats at the G in the finals last year. With a few big guns back in the side they’ll rise. In the meantime the Cats win didn’t tell us much more about how they are going.

    Cheers, by the way the Cattery looks great with lights. Took the boy and he had a blast, including going on the ground after the game.

  9. June 29

  10. I fear my scotch-fueled (scotch-inspired) analysis has let me down – I left Harry Taylor out of my votes. 3 votes to Harry, the players mentioned in the report to be re-awarded one vote each.

  11. Cookie – I didn’t see Selwood do anything wrong in reacting to Crowley. In fact the two of them had a couple of little chats at the end of each quarter, but there was no agro was there?

    R Kane – Freo would make Rachel Welsh look ordinary. We’ll find out if the Cats are any good next week. Or if, indeed, the Hawks are any good.

  12. Basso Divor says

    Dips, I search engined “Rachel Welsh” and it responded “Did you mean: Raquel Welch”? Did you?

  13. Basso – you’ll k now when you see her. Its completely unambiguous.

  14. Rick Kane says

    Dear Mr Dips

    I don’t think anyone is under any illusion about whether the Cats are any good or how good they are. They have only lost two games this season and sit second on the ladder.

    I was merely responding to Cookie’s (and it would seem your) dismissal of the Dockers. If the groans around me in the outer at the Cattery were anything to go by in the Third then there were also a lot of frustrated and concerned Cats fans. The Cats should have blown ’em away. They didn’t.

    That corresponds with frustration the Cats coach expressed in an excellent and quite frank interview in the Geelong Advertiser a couple of weeks ago about flaws in the side’s performance and consistency this year. I’m in fact, echoing Cats sentiments.

    As for this Saturday night’s game, well it will be a cracker. We already know whether both sides are ‘any good’. I want the Hawks to tear the Cats apart. I want that so much. The Hawks are as well placed to take it up to your lot as they have been since 2008, both sides play superb footy and the G brings out the best in both sides. So, bring it on.


  15. Dips meant Rachel Welsh, the dental receptionist from East Ivanhoe.

    He could also have mentioned Sophie Lauren but she doesn’t work there anymore.

    But he tells me they’re about to put on Merle Street who’s moving across from a small practice in Moonee Ponds.

  16. Rick Kane says

    Didn’t Sophie share a house with Rita Haywirth? I knew them back in the day.

    My brother says he went out once with Faye Dunitherway but’s he’s full of it.


  17. Neil Belford says

    Well Cookie that’s a stake in the ground. How things can change in a week. Good luck on Saturday night, I am chasing surf rather than footy this week, but I am a bit sad to be missing the big game. I think hubris is stalking your boys, it wont be there against the Hawks but it will be when Freo next needs it to be. I think you’ll beat the Hawks again. They are not travelling all that well at the moment.
    Looking forward to the finals though …

  18. Hey Cookie… Do you have a follow-up article to this one?

  19. Chadster, like WEG (and now Mark Knight) GF posters, I have two articles prepared depending on the result. I have a strong feeling my “I told you so” response will be posted on Saturday night.

  20. Cookie, I’ve been looking for your “humble Pie” article re Saturday night. Freo were terrific and so far in the finals have disposed of Geelong and Sydney more convincingly than have Hawthorn. This original article of your could see you with egg on your face after just 3 months.

  21. Stephen Cooke says

    Hi dave,
    I stand by every word. They haven’t achieved anything yet.

  22. You’re tough to convince. “Haven’t achieved anything yet”? They beat Geelong at home (second side in 44 attempts). And it was a final and the umpire gave Geelong a huge advantage first half (with some terrible calls). After the first quarter they took control of Geelong and never lost that grip. Then they absolutely dominated Sydney for all of the game that counted. Hawthorn didn’t do that until after half time. So far they have been more convincing against Geelong and Sydney than has Hawthorn.
    So I see you as being only a “toss of the coin” result away from being proven totally wrong with an unfair “never ever call”.
    After Freo win the Flag (and I’m pretty sure they will) many of the so called experts will wonder how Freo slipped under their radar as being the real deal. Well maybe it’s partly because they have had to completely change their playing style over the last 2 years. Maybe it’s also got something to do with the fact that they needed to do that all season with many of their top list injured. They have shown a depth in their squad this year that should have been a warning sign to those quick to write them off. Late in the season they started to develop the attacking game you are quick to argue they don’t have. The thrashing of Port Adelaide (finally a full side together) was a sign that Freo could score goals and were building momentum at the right time.
    So I hope when you are proven wromg in a few days time you do folow through with the appropriate “I was wrong” titled article.

  23. Stephen Cooke says

    Hi dave,
    Ross Lyon would agree with me. Freo haven’t achieved anything – yet.

  24. We finally agree. The fact that Lyon and Pav couldn’t even crack a smile after thrashing Sydney (and earning a spot in the finals) is yet another sign that they have only one thing on their mind. They want this bad, they belive they can win it and they have the list and the game plan that can deliver it.

  25. Malcolm Ashwood says

    We Have this Stupid thought process that you have to Win the Premiership to achieve something CRAP as The Messiah M Blight pointed out that is so wrong
    Fremantle and Hawthorn making The GF is a huge achievement and The losing
    Grand Finalist should be far more recognised Unfortunately that went out the window when Peter Moore thru his Runners Up Medal in too the crowd it is something that should be revisited after all there can only be 1 winner and we act like the team coming 2nd have committed a crime it is so v wrong

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