Banter and blue cheese in front of the telly

I can’t remember a home and away game ever having so much riding on it.
It was indeed a battle of the titans. Collingwood, terrifyingly, were on top of the ladder and, with St Kilda hampered by the loss of Nick Riewoldt and the Bulldogs struggling to find consistency, seemingly a real chance for a crack at the flag. Or at least another Grand Final choke.
Geelong were the quiet achievers. They had picked up six wins from eight matches and beaten two top eight teams in a row.
Yet the public momentum was all with the Magpies: the challengers for the title of top dog.
So if you’d told me some of the trivial things my father and I would be musing over in the last quarter, I would’ve been shocked.
We sat down on the couch to watch the match: something we haven’t done as a family in years.  It might have something to do with the fact that whenever we try Mum makes sagacious comments such as ‘that one has a bloody awful tat’ or ‘why do they keep falling over?’ Don’t forget ‘he looks as dumb as dog shit!’
I’m the only one tipping Geelong, more because of the fact that, as a Tiger fan, the idea of backing Collingwood is sacrilegious than any strength in the teams.
The opening quarter is intense! Tight! Desperate! And highly unattractive. Collingwood’s famed pressure crushes Geelong, their turnovers crush themselves. Collingwood, through Swan, kick the first goal within a minute and don’t score a major for the rest of the quarter. Two minutes later, Ablett curls a snapshot through to level the scores…and Geelong manages three behinds for the rest of the quarter.
Geelong’s composure and lightning handballs keep them out of trouble. At quarter time it’s a one-point lead to Geelong, but Ablett, Swan and Selwood haven’t been the main players. It’s been Hunt and Lonergan and O’Brien and Sidebottom. Harry Taylor is struggling against Travis Cloke, but hasn’t conceded an effective disposal while Sharrod Wellingham is doing his job effectively. Didak is quiet, Mooney looks threatening. Steve Johnson looks like the careless genius he always does and Leon Davis can’t get a look at the footy. “Doesn’t perform in big games,” deliberates Dad.  “All skill, no tenacity.”
In the second quarter Mum becomes bored. Consequentially she makes annoying judgements on the appearance and actions of the players. Joel Selwood gives away a free and shakes his head exasperatedly. “Why do they do that? Do you think I should tell them that it won’t change the decision?” I glance at Dad, who glances at me.  “Don’t respond, it’ll encourage her.”
While I hang on Geelong takes control of the game with both hands. After Dayne Beams kicks a goal in the first minute and a half, the Cats force the Magpies into making mistakes and lock the ball in their 50. Steve Johnson receives a handball from and swings the snap through on his left from thirty-five. Geelong’s back line is causing the Pies to be impaled on their forward fifty time and time again, with Hunt, Scarlett and Mackie destroying Davis, Didak and Cloke. Podsiadly, doing well enough to warrant two opponents, makes a contest in the hot spot that leads to a goal to Mooney and a 17-point lead in an arm-wrestle match.
But this is where the Pies are renowned for fighting back. They lift their kicking efficiency and get it over the trench at 50. With a minute and a half left Dayne Beams kicks his second off his ankle. With eight seconds to play the ball is on Geelong’s half forward line. Didak grabs the footy and slams a mongrel punt sixty metres up field where Mark Blake, the dopiest, most awkward looking player on the ground yet seemingly untouchable in the first half, grabs it on the bounce.
Five seconds.
His handball is intercepted by that man Beams, who kicks a long, low shot towards goal. It bounces in the square, then skids, rolls and pushes itself through for a goal with six nanoseconds left on the clock. And suddenly Collingwood has the momentum going into the second half.

The Pies continue to advance in the first ten minutes. Collingwood are dominating play, Didak suddenly having thirty metre clearances. Shaw, on the rare times Geelong can get it beyond the centre circle, sweeps the ball up and sends it back. Beams kick his fourth and when O’Bree drills his first from forty the margin is thirteen points.
“Geelong really needs a goal,” I murmur to Dad, who nods once.
Collingwood sprays a few shots and seem to be in control. But Geelong turn it around. Ablett, quiet for most of the night, weaves through a pack a few times to set up his side’s chances. Stokes kicks truly from forty, Podsiadly from thirty-five.  When Mooney scrapes through his second from twenty, the Cats lead by eight points and have momentum with them.
Seeing that her tip might be wrong and her grip on the top four of the footy tipping comp is slipping, Mum becomes narky.   “Close your mouth, luvvie,’ she grumbles as Podsiadly lines up a shot from fifty.  “God, who’s Sasquatch?!” she exclaims as Chris Dawes has a rare touch. She’s kind of right here. He’s a skinhead with a big forehead and an apish face with eyebrows like caterpillars. Additionally, he hasn’t been sighted at all tonight.
Geelong tears the Pies to a rabble, who are mere shadows of the team that was in control in the first ten minutes.  About the only interest for the last twenty minutes is Dennis Cometti commenting, after a link of handballs between Danes Swan and Beams, that Princess Mary must like the Pies.
“D’you reckon he just sits around writing them at half time?” I ask Dad.  “He’s sitting on about fifty every quarter,” replies Dad.
Jolly and Milburn both abuse the umpires. Varcoe capitalises from Geelong’s free, Collingwood turn theirs over. By three quarter time, the Cats have kicked 5.5 to 2.6 and lead by 22 points.
The last quarter is woeful. Any chance Collingwood have vaporises when they kick four behinds from five shots in the first ten minutes. Biding their time, Geelong goes forward and kicks one, two, three goals to extend the gap to six goals. Collingwood kick six behinds in the final quarter to give them a total of 2.12 in the second half. The blue cheese is brought out.
Finally, Mum gets bored, stops her cerebral diatribe and goes to bed. Dad and I are left to run the clock down and discuss random floating topics.
Me: “Didn’t Robert Plant have a revolting, spindly body?”
Dad: “Dunno. Never really followed Led Zeppelin.”
“What! Who did you follow?”
“Supertramp…Midnight Oil…The Cranberries-”
Mum yells down at Dad that it’s no wonder he was a nerd at high school. I would join in, but it’s seemingly genetic.
Bruce McAvaney comments on the brilliance of Collingwood’s defensive unit.
“Yeah,” I mutter sadistically, “in the same way the Life of Brian suicide squad was.”
As the ball drifts around, occasionally landing on the intended target, we discuss who has been good and who hasn’t been.
“Thomas,” I declare delightedly, “he’s flashy every now and then but he’s about as hard as a woolly jumper.”
Dad snorts. “You just don’t like talented players.”
On screen, Thomas has a shot from thirty five that swings off to the left for Collingwood’s sixth behind for the quarter.
“Yeah, there’s talent. Right there. Do you see it? It just missed.”
“How about Judd? You don’t like him.”
Au contraire. I like Judd, I just don’t like that he went to Carlton instead of Richmond.”
“You can understand why he made that decision, though?”
“Yeah, ‘cause he likes it easy. Doesn’t like having to struggle for his success.”
The blue cheese is finished. Cats by thirty six.
3-Josh Hunt 2-Cameron Mooney 1-Andrew Mackie

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Richard Naco says

    Good report.

    And the ‘Life of Brian suicide squad’ crack is gold.

    Odds are Cometti will use it next Friday!

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