AFL Round 20 – Geelong v Port Adelaide: The meanderings of an accidental cat

By Richard Naco

Context is Everything.  My alarm went off at 3am, although, truth be told, I’d been checking the time for at least two hours before then.  I caught the first train on the Cronulla line at 4:35am, then the first plane from Sydney to Avalon (7:00).  Later, I caught the last flight from Avalon back to the Emerald City, and two trains later, walked in through my front door at 11:15pm (ish).  In between, I travelled a Josh Hunt torp shy of 2000kms, met some fellow Catters (Shell & Rabbi) at the Lord of the Isles for steamed dim sims, a glass or two of Tasmania’s finest, and an overdue dose of ailurophile fervour, and then saw a game of footy.

It was a fairly big day, all up.

It was also probably one of the most meaningful day I’ve spent at the football.  I grew up in Adelaide, have spent a few years living in Canberra and Brisneyland, and have now lived in Sydney for over seventeen years.  But I barrack for Geelong, not through bloodlines, culture or geography, but purely by accident.

Yes.  I am an Accidental Cat.

I gave up on Aussie Rules (and my beloved Glenelg Tigers) after the SANFL gave up on Adelaide Oval in 1974.  Study, work (often simultaneously) and a burgeoning social life made the arduous trek out to the soulless concrete chasm at West Lakes incredibly unappetising, and for close on thirty years I got involved (mainly) in basketball.  When that started to pale, and keeping a promise to my wife that I would only follow a single sport at any given time, I returned to our indigenous game.

I tried to intellectualise support for a club as a focus of my passion.  Richmond (Tigers, like Glenelg), Norths (I went to school with Kym Hodgeman), Essendon (ditto, Paul Weston), Hawthorn (I’d co-habited with a cousin of John Platten), Adelaide (lived there), Brisbane (ditto), Sydney (ditto) and even Port Adelaide (Graham Cornes, father of Chad and Kane, was one of my Glenelg heroes) were all logical vessels for my footy desires, but like GWS later, the obvious conscious connections still failed to move me emotionally.

In short, I became a Catter because of Hawthorn and Cameron Mooney.  As the Hawks surged towards their 2008 title, I became aware that I was getting really upset.  I immediately knew that Geelong had, like an ambush predator, stalked and stolen my heart.  I then recalled Moonz predicting pre-game that this was the Cats’ last title chance, and that the dreaded premiership window would close after that GF.  Reassured that I wasn’t jumping onto any viable band wagon, I embraced my inner Cat in anticipation of the club declining, gracefully and nobly, into an inevitable period of mediocrity and anonymity.

Cam and I sure got that one wrong!

Most footy fans safely entrenched in their club’s home cities rarely appreciate the loneliness of the long distance fan.  We are always outnumbered when our team plays in our home city, and we never get lost in a crowd of similarly hued fellow fans at local games.  Our familial connections are inevitably long distance and electronic (mine mainly lie on the online Geelong boards of Big Footy), so our closest footy friends remain largely faceless.

So when Shell, a mate on said BF boards asked me, “Why are you coming for a Port game?”, the answer was obvious.

“I’m not coming for a Port game”, I posted back, “I’m coming for a Geelong one.”

There were almost 25,000 people at this game.  Around 60 (tops) wore teal and black, while all of the rest were, like me, attired in the glorious Geelong navy and white, and more often than not in the form of the Blessed Hoops.  And when I roared my acclamation of the many fabulous plays of the home town heroes, mine was but one voice in a choir of literally tens of thousands.  That experience alone, was worth the time and money costs of this trip.

Geelong were simply awesome in the first half.  Despite Matthew Lobbe dominating the ruck, Geelong played irresistible football, the sort that even non-Cat fans tune in to watch.  Port were powerless to stop it, as bar a brief burst of three goals early in the second stanza, the Cats swept the ball regally up the field time and time again, seemingly at will.

Steven Motlop, was breathtakingly amazing.  At one point, it seemed that every time he was involved in the transition play, a goal would inevitably result.  Joel Sellwood was Joel Sellwood, except that somewhere along the track he’s obviously channelled a certain sun of Geelong from not so long ago and added “goal scorer” to his resume.  Harry Taylor majestically dominated the backlines, and the Cats were playing Catball at its dominating best.

Port came out in the third and made a real fist of it, but Geelong steadied and were soon controlling again.  Then, with ten to remain in the third, every Geelong player seemingly ran out of puff simultaneously, and Port ran up a quite respectable score in the end (Angus Monfries kicked most of his noteworthy bag of seven far too late in the game to actually influence the result).

That day, I witnessed the style of glorious football in the first half which would win any team the flag in this, yet another odd numbered year.  With their players so obviously feeling the effects of a heavy training load at the end of the game makes me think that come the crunchy bit of the season, Geelong will have the collective tank to apply that vision splendid of our glorious indigenous game for every moment of every game throughout September.

The apex ambush predator of Australian football is very much poised to pounce, again.

 

GEELONG                   6.4   12.7   19.9    20.9    (129)                  

PORT ADELAIDE      1.3    4.4     10.5   16.8    (104)          

 

GOALS

Geelong: Selwood 4, Taylor 3, Podsiadly 2, Christensen 2, Motlop 2, Bartel, Hawkins, Varcoe, Guthrie, Caddy, Kelly, Walker

Port Adelaide: Monfries 7, Schulz 2, Boak, Gray, Ebert, Lobbe, Colquhoun, Wingard, Moore

BEST 

Geelong: Motlop, Selwood, Taylor,  Enright, Corey, Mackie, Guthrie

Port Adelaide: Lobbe, Boak, Monfries, Ebert, Pittard

Umpires: Rosebury, Ryan, McInerney

Official crowd: 24,784

Our Votes: 3 Motlop (Geel.); 2 Selwood (Geel); 1 Lobbe (Port)

About Richard Naco

We are Geelong.

Comments

  1. Cat from the Country says:

    Great yarn! My journey is 2 hours driving both ways, usually alone, to get to the Cattery. But I LOVE them. They are AWSOME as they showed us in the West. Go Cats!!

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