Collingwood v Geelong Grand Final: 01/10/11 – Kathmandu, Nepal

By Evan Davies

Forty-five minutes to the first bounce. 45 (Cameron Ling) minutes to get from one side of Kathmandu to the other.  Kathmandu is not a big city, so the distance itself should not be an issue.  Kathmandu is, however, a busy, dense and congested city. A city with the population of Melbourne in an area the size of Geelong. Even on a bike the traffic can be impassable.  In the heavy monsoon rain a few days previous it took me twice as long to travel half as far. Today is clear though and I’m feeling confident. A good day to watch the Grand Final. Again I feel confident. I jump on my bike and head north.

I am heading to the Australian Embassy, the only place in Nepal with Australia Network, hence the only place to the Grand Final.  As I duck and weave through the heavy, violent Kathmandu traffic I think back over an amazing five years.  The Joel Corey smother in the 2007 Preliminary Final against Collingwood. It was at that point I knew we wanted it more. Brad Otten’s 50 metre chase and tackle on Michael Pettigrew in the first quarter of the 2007 victory over Port Adelaide. The coming of age of Nathan Ablett on the big day but only to retire two months later. Maybe today will see the making of another big forward? 2009, it always makes me think of Max Rooke. Animalistic and brutal yet soulful, the spiritual leader of the 2009 Cats.  He was always the one you wanted in there when it got tough. He gave us the hardened edge to get over the line against a steely St Kilda. His first quarter come from nowhere tackle on Raph Clarke. Winning the free and kicking the goal. His final quarter domination of the forward 50. An amazing match that still makes me nervous watching it.

The traffic, erratic but free flowing to this point suddenly constricts and tightens, like the Collingwood forward press that destroyed us in the 2010 Preliminary Final. This concerns me little now. I grit my teeth, push it out of my mind, and burst through the pack like Joel Selwood at a stoppage. As I break free I accelerate like David Wojcinski streaming off the half backline through the centre corridor.  A bus suddenly pulls out, almost knocking me down. In Melbourne I would be furious at this but here there is no point. I cut right before quickly switching back left to avoid a labouring taxi. A move Travis Varcoe would be proud of. I pass Thamel, the half way mark and push up through Lazimpat. The gradient of the road begins to change. Slowly at first, then more sharply upwards. Doubt begins to enter my mind for the first time.  I’m so close but it still seems so far.  2008 starts dancing around in my head. I try to ignore it but it has already taken root. Cyril Rioil running circles around Corey Enright, Cam Mooney’s missed goals and Clinton Young’s goal from the centre square to put Hawthorn in front in the second quarter. That one hurts. My thighs begin to burn. Geelong starting well has made me nervous ever since. I often feel more comfortable now if it is a tight first quarter, even if Geelong is a goal or two down at quarter time. The Cats always play better when challenged early.  I rise over the crest, like Jimmy Bartel over the pack in the forward 50, the road flattens and straightens; I can see the run home. Bartel claims my nerves. So reliable, always there, ready to do his bit; to stand up when we need him most.  If the game is tight I want to see the ball in his hands. But Geelong is not about individuals it is about the team. Everyone doing there bit. It is this egalitarian-ness that I love most about Geelong. 2008 is forgotten. Now I can only focus on what’s ahead. The yellow wall of the embassy comes into view. I’m there. I pull up in front and look at my watch:  33 (Max Rooke) minutes. Thirty-three minutes to cross a city of 4 million. Smashed it! That’s my bit done.


  1. Sheer poetry in motion! No wonder the Cats won with support like this.

    I dips me lid to yer.

    And me a Collingwood supporter

  2. John Butler says

    Great stuff Evan.

    We’ve been after a Nepal correspondent. :)

  3. It is amazing to see what a Cat Man Do to watch a grand final.

  4. Clearisghted says

    With a name like Evan Davies, “the home of the poets and singers” has to be running through your veins.
    Along with the blue and white, of course.

  5. Disappointing Evan.

    No room for Chappie in amongst that 33 minute effort???

    Tongue encheeked. Enjoyed the North West Asian perspective!

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