AFL Round 9: The Cats, Tim Lane and The Bultman

by Stephen Cooke

The Bultman made his way straight to me at a wedding reception after the Cats snagged the Grand Final on that one day to remember. For someone with access to an open bar for more than an hour, his eyes were surprisingly focussed.

“What’s it like?” he asked.

I told him seeing your team’s jumper on the podium with the cup was almost unbelievable; the term surreal not surreal enough.

“I just want to see one,” he said.

Bultman is a Bulldogs member. I met him through a friend of mine when they were dating. Their relationship ended but as one of the few Bulldogs fans I know, ours has endured. So I called him last week to see if he was heading to Etihad.

“Yes, but you’ll beat us,” he said. No disagreement there – the Cats have been red hot.

It’s a cruel twist that someone so devoted to one’s club can receive so little in return. It had been a long time between drinks for the Cats but at least they had given us fans a good run for our money. I’ve always said they’re a good club to follow for 51 weeks of the year.

Bultman had new reason to be downcast. The Bulldogs didn’t want it enough this year by all accounts. They weren’t running hard enough and working for each other, apparently.

They’d need all that and more to knock the Cats off.

With two seats beautifully secured on the wing, it was earplugs in and game on. It was the first time I had listened to the radio while watching a game and what a revelation it was.

Tim Lane telling me what had happened half a second after watching it live would have been appreciated even if I hadn’t left my glasses at home.

Without them, the scene unfolding before me resembled a blue and white blur, although this is how Gary Ablett’s opponent must feel at any given time, and especially on Friday.

Rumour had it that the little genius wanted to secure six Brownlow votes from the game following his two week sabbatical so was intent on being first, second and third best on ground. If he doesn’t get at least four votes from the game I’ll be stunned.

Liam Picken was given the task of shadowing Ablett after some impressive performances this year and how he even breaks into a modest shuffle with thighs like tree trunks is beyond me. He must be able to roost the ball a mile – if only Ablett would have let him get close to it in that first quarter.

It was a quick, skilful match with the Bulldogs still in it at half time due to Geelong’s inaccuracy. No surprises there but maybe Cam Mooney saw how ordinary it looks from the other side of the fence due to his suspension.

The Bulldogs’ decision to flood one half of the ground through the first quarter didn’t help their cause when they were able to find their way out of defence.

The Cats pushed out to a six goal lead, led by Stevie Johnson who continually plucked balls at will from the contest, placed them ever so sweetly on his boot and caressed them through the big sticks.

Big Shane Mumford loping around the ground cast my mind back to Darren Flanigan’s performance in the 1989 grand final. Flanagan was my favourite player and now I have a new one. If only Joel Selwood would do the right thing and give up the number 14.

But I digress. The Cats were doing it easy until the Bulldogs decided to close the gap. Or more accurately, Akermanis decided to.

Earlier in the week I heard the former Brisbane star described as a consultant in the Lions’ premiership years – not one of the boys but someone you could rely on to get things done.

With the game slipping away on Friday night, Akermanis had clearly had enough and every time he gained possession his piercing kicks would send the ball deep into the forward line to a teammate or for full points. He is confidence personified. Give me the ball and I will perform.

He cut Geelong’s lead back to three points with minutes left and even Bultman wanted to believe. He was on the edge of his seat – right up until Varcoe kicked a goal to push the margin back out to nine.

But then Picken, carrying those huge thighs, snapped a goal with little more than a minute on the clock. Three points in it.

But Bultman wasn’t falling for that again. He’d been on the edge of his seat already and look where that had got him. Not even the final minute where the footy hardly left the Dog’s forward 50 could get him to inch forward.

When Johnson had the ball with seconds left I thought it was in safe hands – turns out it wasn’t as he missed and the Cats won again.

Still, you can’t accuse the Doggies of not giving their supporters something to get excited about.

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety


  1. Oh well it could have been worse – at least we don’t have Farren Ray anymore.

  2. Didn’t get Ablett in to my votes.He failed to hurt the Dogs, though he had the chance to a couple of times. Blinded by Charlie?

  3. Finally downloaded the rest of this game the other night so got to have a good look at it; I think Brad Johnson was lucky not to be in the poop for deviating off his line once he finally took his kick, but gee he was stiff. Cats didn’t play well at all really, sorry to Doggies fans but it’s true; we had the foot on the throat and took it off while we went for a cup of tea.

    The Cats were similarly flat after the last match between these two sides, last year’s Preliminary Final (and look what happened after that). The Bulldogs are a force to be reckoned with all right, this finals series could well be an absolute cracker with the Cats, Saints, Dogs and Hawks (they’ll come good, surely; only need to win 14-15 games to make top four this year!) running around in form.

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