AFL Round 3 – Geelong v Carlton: It’s a family thing

The groom was solemn when making his wedding speech. He was protestant by faith, and marrying into a Catholic family. The room was silent as he looked up from his shoes and found the eyes of his mother-in-law.

“I’m sorry,” he said to her. “I can’t. I respect you, but I can’t make that leap.

“I’ll never follow Collingwood.”


I married into the Brennans, a staunch Carlton family. Dr John Brennan almost never missed a game in 40 years. Only when the Blues vacated Princes Park for Docklands Stadium did his commitment waiver.

Dr Brennan begat two daughters who religiously attended games with their father during their childhood.  The eldest daughter, Mady, queued for days for tickets to the 1995 Grand Final, such was her passion. The youngest, Laura, still receives text messages from friends whenever a sighting of Ang Christou is made.

Their elder brother, Mickas, is of such old school support that it wasn’t Malthouse’s former employer that bothered him, but that the prick was Richmond.

Somewhat fortunately for me, my courtship with Mady began in 2002, about five months before Carlton was collared for rorting the salary cap.

It wasn’t a bold and cocky Navy Blue brood I would join. All the hallmarks of a typical Carlton supporter had been stripped away. It’s impossible to say whether a strong Carlton would have made Sunday lunches insufferable, but probably not. If my religion was Collingwood or Richmond then conversation would have been more willing, but there has been little animosity between Carlton and Geelong, certainly in my lifetime.

They thrashed us in the 1995 Grand Final but it’s a distant memory – three subsequent flags will do that.  Blues fans would bristle whenever Dasher Milburn – he of the infamous Silvagni poleaxing and subsequent golf clap to the members – took possession of the footy but he’s moved on (with no regrets Blues fans, with no regrets).

Blues fans desperately wanted to beat us on Saturday night, but that was to get the four points. They were buying into the opinion propagated by the dailies that there season was slipping away (yes, after two rounds). There was none of the extra satisfaction that a win over Collingwood would have delivered.

Walking into Etihad with the aforementioned Mady Brennan, I was confident we would be 3-0 by the end of the night. I was worried last week against North, but Carlton used to trouble Geelong with their pace. With Motlop, Christensen and Varcoe in the side, this wasn’t going to be an issue.

It fascinates me that Geelong is transitioning itself from a team comprising an abnormally high percentage of the league’s most talented players (Bartel, Chapman, Enright, Corey, Johnson, Ablett until his departure, Selwood, Taylor) to a team that could rival them in the long-term for sheer talent (Christensen, Motlop, Menzel, Smedts, Varcoe, Hawkins and Selwood and Taylor again).

These players are a joy to watch, as is Taylor Hunt. Hunt wasn’t a favourite of mine in his first couple of seasons. It was frustrating watching him turn the ball over more often than not, but his courage and ability to rebound from a massive hit is endearing. And now he’s kicking goals.

He kicked three on Saturday night, peeling off Marc Murphy when the time was right. A tagger who can inflict damage as well – I suspect Hunt was working pretty closely with a former skipper until he retired.

The Cats are a very good side. Wise heads, leg speed, party tricks, work ethic and a commitment to the team. Carlton aren’t as bad as 0-3 suggests, but they’re still off the pace of the league’s best sides. Not by much, but enough to be 0-3.

The Blues led by three goals on two occasions in the first half, racing away early in the first quarter before Geelong could peg them back with four goals in time-on, then skipping away in the second quarter after the opening four goals in eight minutes. Judd was central to this. He’s like a farm bull in a paddock – aggressive, strong and surprisingly fast.

They did this without Kreuzer for the most part, which forced Sam Rowe to act as the focal point up forward. Rowe looked like a footballer. With more game time, the Blues might have one here.

Dylan Buckley was subbed on when Kreuzer was injured and kicked a goal from a tight angle at full pace with his first kick in footy. The goal led to a previously unknown family tale of Mady’s parents buying Jimmy Buckley’s chiffonier at a Carlton auction in the 80s.

“A lovely piece of furniture,” my mother-in-law confirmed the next day, before she was relieved of baby sitting duties.

When teams get a run on against Geelong, as Hawthorn and North did, they look slow. The ball can be transferred from one end so quickly that the likes of Joel Corey, Enright and Kelly seem to look on in bewilderment. But when the ball is back in their hands, they create space and position for their younger teammates to capitalise. This has happened three weeks running.

Unfortunately, when the tide turns, Geelong looks powerless to stop it and this put a few fans on the edge of their seat in the final quarter when the Blues put on four straight goals to bring the margin back to 10 points.

Murphy broke the shackles and dominated, while Gibbs was also very good, and there was plenty of time left but Christensen and Motlop combined to kick a late goal and put the result beyond doubt. Those two young Cats were influential all night, while Stokes was in career best form. Selwood was subdued with Carrazzo having the better of him, and Hawkins was much better than previous weeks.

To finish, Harry Taylor is possibly the most underrated player in the league. Always calm in his approach when the pressure is at its greatest, and can go forward when needed to great effect. He is a beauty, and emerging reports that his family may be homesick for WA concern me greatly.

GEELONG      5.5   12.6    17.7    18.11   (119)

CARLTON      4.3    9.5    11.10   15.13   (103)


Geelong: Hunt 3, Hawkins 3, Christensen 2, Taylor 2, Smedts 2, Motlop 2, Podsiadly, West, Stokes, Selwood,

Carlton: Rowe 2, Yarran 2, Lucas 2, Scotland, McLean, Buckley, Garlett, McLean, Judd, Murphy, Hampson, Armfield


Geelong: Taylor, Hunt, Stokes, Motlop, Christensen, Bartel, Hawkins

Carlton: Judd, Gibbs, Murphy Robinson, Jamison, Rowe, McLean,

Umpires: Dalgleish, Nicholls, McInerney

Official crowd:  43,241 at Etihad Stadium

OUR VOTES: 3. Taylor; 2. Christensen; 1. Judd

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety


  1. Nic McGay says

    Nice one, Cookey. I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on Harry Taylor. Gee I hope those reports have an element of truth. Would love to see him in the blue and gold…

  2. I love (1) that Jimmy Buckley had a chiffonier, (2) that he sold it and (3) that your outlaws bought it.

    Most enjoyable.

  3. Don’t worry Cookie we’ll trade you Mitch Brown when Harry pulls the pin on you. I love watching smart footballers, and Harry is one of the best – wherever he plays.

  4. Dan Crane says

    Nice read. 95 still hurts me. But then again I am overly sentimental. Harry goes from strength to strength. I reckon he will stay. We already have a brown.
    H Taylo has that Dustin fletcheresque calm authority these days that all champion defenders somehow inherit. Taylor Hunt reminds me of Steven Gerrard. He’s very purposeful.

  5. Dan Crane says

    Oh and thanks for making me learn what a
    chiffonier is. I never knew!

  6. Stephen Cooke says

    Dan, you can thank my mother-in-law for that reference. I was told on the night it was a hall stand. “It was a chiffonier, actually,” we were told the next morning. Most people put their unwanted furniture out on the nature strip, or on eBay. Not footballers, they wait for the club auction!

  7. Stephen Cooke says

    Dan, I see from your 2011 report that my feelings towards Carlton are not shared by all Cats fans:

  8. Have to think Matty Stokes despised being handed the green vest the week prior and wanted to do everything within his power to make sure it never happens again.

  9. Richard Naco says

    Matty Stokes being given the green vest for the Norf’s game was a move of sheer tactical genius and vision which arguably won us that game.

    Matty Stokes not being given the green vest for the Blues’ game was a move of sheer tactical genius and vision which arguably won us that game.

    Chris Scott clearly thinks well outside the box.

    Bundy Christensen sontinues to run clean though them these days, usually emerging with ball in hand.

    ‘Tis a very good time to be embedded within the Geelong community.

  10. Lindsay Symons says

    Good stuff Cookie. Don’t despair just yet: I have it on the reliable authority of my daughter who is at Deakin uni (and therefore the intelligence is an order of magnitude greater that that used by Little Johnny to take us to war in Iraq), that Harry’s wife is also well-embedded and well-regarded in Geelong, so maybe any homesickness can be kept at bay for a few years yet and maybe the speculation in The Age was just that… WE LOVE YOU HARRY!

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