AFL Round 23 – Geelong v Sydney: In a strange land. Queens-land.

STATIC. Occasionally interrupted by foreign language radio and golden oldies.

Finding an AFL clash on the radio in Brisbane is an acquired skill.

The first time I found myself doing it was on the drive to Queensland weeks earlier.

I was somewhere between a town with too many ‘o’s’ and too many ‘i’s’. On that occasion I stumbled upon the Cats and Crows game and drove, contented, listening to the reigining premiers hit form.

They were going to need all of that form to beat the Swans.

But first I had to find the bloody game on the radio.

I was used to being in Geelong, where I had the choice of radio, TV or just walking down the road and going to Kardinia Park.

Now I’d moved to Brisbane after being a Victorian my entire life. It was for the girl. And the job. But mainly for the girl. And footy had been an undesirable sacrifice.

In round one I’d been sitting in my cold Geelong flat, trying to convince the girl that Aussie Rules was the game of the gods.

Now, in the final round, I was in sunny Brisbane, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, resigned to the fact that she will never understand.

This Cats game was important. If they lost, they’d be travelling to Perth for the first week of finals. If they won, they’d host North Melbourne or Fremantle at the G.

The first half was a write-off for me. I was consigned to checking my phone for updates as I was otherwise preoccupied with boyfriend duties. Namely a nice Greek lunch.

It was a gut-wrenching affair. The footy, not the souvlaki. Every time the Cats seemed to step it up, the Swans would hit back. I expected no less.

My Twitter account was alive with the joy of seeing Nathan Vardy back. It was also abuzz that Chappy had been reported for striking. The angry little man had snapped. It happens at least once a year.

By half time things were pretty tight. And my lunch was finished. The radio search began.

After trying what felt like every AM station available, the familiar voice of Gerard Whateley floated into my ears.

The Cats had accelerated. Gerard was excited. And there are few things I like more than an excited Gerard Whateley.

The Geelong of old was dominating. James Kelly was tackling hard, Stevie J and Joel Corey were in the thick of it, and Joel Selwood was bleeding. It was a stock-standard Cats affair.

Probably the best part about the game, maybe even the season, was the form of the Tomahawk. He’d been a frustrating character, big Tom. When he burst onto the scene in 2007, with bags against Melbourne and Carlton, we all thought the full-forward curse was over. Then the inevitable big man syndrome kicked in. He’d take time to develop. But that time was over. He was a force. He was scary. He was unbeatable.

By early in the last the game was over. The Swans rallied briefly but it was too late. The attention turned to Hawkins’ effort to win the Coleman Medal. It was the only significant award the Cats hadn’t won since 2007. With a four goal game, the Tomahawk was two ahead of Pavlich and three ahead of Riewoldt.

It was a good day to be a Cats fan. Tom was leading the goalkicking, there were no injuries, and we were about to embark on our sixth finals campaign in as many years.

If you had told me that at the start of 2007 I’d have said you were mad. But if you’d told me back then that I’d be living in Brisbane, sweating in the Queensland heat and furiously trying to find the footy on the radio, I’d have probably said the same thing.

Five years isn’t just a long time in football. It’s a long time in life.

About Kyle Pollard

Geelong Cats. Green Bay Packers. Heartbreak. Never been a sports reporter but somehow ended up on the sports desk at a metro newspaper. Weekends be damned.


  1. That’s luxury Kyle. I was in Mackay in 1976 and they spoke a foreign language to the Tasmanian I spoke, nothing existed south of Sarina and they followed something called League; aye.

  2. Dennis Gedling says

    Great stuff Kyle. I was in Brisbane in April and it was harder to drag a zeppelin out of a cat’s arse than it was to try and get the Geelong V Richmond game on a TV at a pub on Caxton Street.

  3. Siamese Cat says

    ” it was harder to drag a zeppelin out of a cat’s arse” … classic. Thanks for that one.

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