Can the Cats win without Stevie J?

Everything points to this Grand Final being a cracker. Even the weather. As the Friday dawn is breaking over the People’s Republic of Northcote I can see small patches of blue sky.

The morning paper tells me that Beams is out for Collingwood and young Fasolo is in, and that there is no change in the Geelong team. Taken on face value that means that Stevie J’s knee is OK. There may of course be a late change.

Stevie J is much-loved. He is an eccentric creator, a man who could sit around a table over a cup of tea with Malcolm Blight and Brent Crosswell and converse without speaking. He understands the game in his own way, and he loves a challenge.

Stevie J has been one of the reasons the Cats have enjoyed such success in this generation, but he is not the only reason. In this era Geelong has had talent across the park, and have built their cavalier attack on team-work. Stevie J has added to this magnificently, finding channels which no-one else could furrow, dishing out handballs to players he suspected were in the vicinity, and all the time playing on regardless.

But he is not the only one. The Cats have become routinely creative and you only need to see the cross-the-park leadership of mature players like Enright and Scarlett, Joel Selwood and the skipper, Chappy, Stokesy and co to see how they are now a very established unit, organised to defend, and then to break free. Or to just go for it when the moment arises.

In a tight game it may be the Johnson spark which is most important. It will probably be a tight game. But the Cats strategy has been built around the capacity to win the footy anywhere on the ground (hopefully starting in the middle) and putting defences into disarray by moving the footy quickly. The Cats match up well in the mid-field, and they have a lead in the ruck department. Again (I know I keep saying it) Trent West is important. That Otto is important is a given.

If the game opens up I reckon the Cats will be hard to contain and Podsiadly and Hawkins will enjoy the space up forward. Harry O et al won’t like that.

On the other hand, if Swan and Pendlebury get away, and Cloke gets good supply, the Cats will be up against it.

In that regard, the Brownlow is illustrative. Swan and Pendlebury dominated Collingwood’s votes, in stark contrast to the spread of vote-winners at Geelong. So to contain the two Collingwood champs is crucial. And tough to do. Cloke is the other one, but I think Taylor and Lonergan, taking turns, will do the job, assuming reasonable pressure up the ground.

I also think that the position of two clubs should not be under-estimated. And I mean clubs. Not teams.

Those of us who have finished jobs know only too well it takes a powerful mind not to fall into winding up mode. As an amateur psychologist and fully-fledged fan I’d say this may well be an issue at the Lexus Centre.

At Geelong the notion of club has dominated thought and action all year.  Resolve and purpose are there for all to see.

That is the reason the Cats can win without Stevie J.

And, if he plays, what a bonus.






About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Harmsy, pure football overcame fear and loathing today. Cats deserved their flag by playing instead of negating. Hope the Pies under Buckley can learn a lesson from this.

  2. Chris Murray says

    Agreed , The forces of good won out. ! Its like the Lord of the Rings. The forces of Mordor have been banished for another year. !

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