Almanac Footy Memoir: Patience wins



“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”- Jean-Jacques Rousseau




Not that I remember it or anything, but I know it was a good year and it would be the last good year for a very long time.


The year of him, the year of a Geelong Premiership.


And the year before the drought that would tear Geelong supporters to the ground, promise them almosts and ultimately break their hearts.


He can’t remember, but the Cats beat the Hawks in the Grand Final, Bobby Davis was coach. He loved him. I came to love him too.


101,452 attended at the MCG. Those of them who were Cats supporters would not feel that jubilation for a brutal 44 years.


He would become more than just a supporter though. He would (and still does) buy his membership every year, despite the false hope they would instil in him each week.


His childhood and teenaged years were full of soccer and footy and infatuation with Polly Farmer and Bobby Davis in the early days, then Paul Couch and Billy Brownless, Peter Riccardi, Garry ‘Buddha’ Hocking and Gary Ablett Senior (his favourite by a mile).


He loved Senior, more than anyone I know. He tells me people would go to Geelong games just to see Ablett play, which never shocked me. I wish I could have seen what he saw too. I have always thought he was the luckiest Cats’ supporter alive.


Oh, how wrong I could be.


The 1970’s brought him The Nankervis brothers and Sammy Newman, but nothing close to the ultimate glory that he longed to taste.


It was like he was forbidden in some way. Maybe in some other life something went wrong? Maybe he was being punished this time around.


But he hadn’t felt heartbreak until the 1980s and 90’s came around.


There was the heartbreak of 1989, which so many others will argue was one of the best, most physical and exciting games and Grand Finals of all time.


Not for Cats supporters, that’s for sure.


He cried and cried and cried.


Then there was 1992.


The Eagles. The Cats were a shoe-in. But they didn’t win and second is the first to lose.


Redemption in 1994. The Eagles again.


But they were better and he had another reason to give up. But he didn’t.


And then 1995.


He walked home after that Grand Final, from Richmond to Caulfield and did not talk for days.


He still hasn’t talked about it. I don’t think he ever will.


And then it took more 12 years for him to see the Cats in another Grand Final.


Just nine months earlier, at the start of 2007, he vowed he’d given up on the game. He said he was at peace with the idea of never seeing a Premiership.


But those boys in the blue and white drew him back in and instantly, his passion was revived.


He is a realist. He had every right to be.


But when the Cats were 90 points up at three-quarter time, I think he may have sat back and enjoyed that last quarter with the 97,301 people around him.


He was one of them.


The siren sounded and he tells me he was in shock. He never would have dreamed that he could witness more than four decades of anguish finally being worth something more than ‘we’ll get ‘em next year’.


I hope he cried. I hope he let 44 years of disappointment flow freely out of his eyes.


I know he still thinks about that momentous day and watching his club hold that premiership cup aloft in front of some 30,000 members.


That’s my Dad.




That was his year.


Patience wins.


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About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for AFL VICTORIA and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media), the Mongrel Punt and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. She also appears on North West FM 98.9 radio show. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!


  1. george smith says

    Sadly my auntie and uncle never got to see their beloved Cats win the big one again. He passed away in 1991, she in 2002. Always a treat to visit their place, and once, in 1987, I took my uncle down to see the team in the local shopping centre, you’d never get that with one of the big Melbourne teams. It is a relief to me that of the 3 outsiders of the late 80s and early 90s, Melbourne, Geelong and Collingwood, my beloved Magpies scored a flag but the other two did not, even though arguably their teams were better.

    The poor old Moggies kept running into the Galacticos – 89 and 91, the powerful West Australians, 92 and 94 and the cashed up Showponies – 95. 2007 must have seemed a blessed relief.

  2. Besides loving the Norwood Footy team, my Dad passionately supported the Crows. Unfortunately cancer got him in ’93. My big regret is that he never got to see the dual premiership of ’97 when the Redlegs belted arch enemy Port Magpies in the SANFL Grand Final and the Crows tossed St Kilda in the AF Big Dance If only he could have hung on till then, I’m sure he would have died happy. In case you haven’t guessed it, I loved my Dad.

  3. Yvette Wroby says

    There’s these stories in every team. My cousin Gary is in his 50s and he has faithfully gone with Uncle Bob all his life to be left shattered by 2009 and twice in 2010. I want a Saints premiership for all those like Gary and Bob. 53 years. And only one in the cupboard.

  4. Spooky Anna – this could have been about me!! Emotions and all. I was born in 1964.

    2007 was one of the best days of my life.

  5. You’ve done a great storied life justice from dawn to dark, Anna. And as Yvette said, I think deep down we all want the droughts to break for special people who support those teams.

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