First ever Almanac article: Eastlink v RingRoad

The Cats playing the Pies in a grand final (even an NAB Cup grand final) is a tantalizing prospect, but unfortunately I drew the short straw in the car pooling and had to transport a whole lot of young boys to and from their choir practice.

And so it was that I was driving along the beautiful Eastlink freeway heading out to Ringwood at 9.20pm whilst the game unfolded on the car radio. I tried to picture the magnificent hoops doing battle against those horrible black striped jumpers that make players look like jail birds.

It’s a beautiful road is Eastlink. Wide, open, new, free flowing. Not like that bloody death trap called the Western Ring Road. What a mess that is. Clogged, narrow in places, poorly planned, dangerous and shabby. The Ring Road is like a junk food diet – it might not kill you overnight, but it will kill you.

So why is Eastlink so empty and the Ring Road so chockers?

It got me thinking about footy.

Why do teams insist on playing Ring Road footy when they could be playing Eastlink footy? Why do they play flooding, zoning, clogged, keepings off, polluted footy when they could be engaged in a free flowing attacking game? Do the players enjoy chipping the ball backwards when they could be taking great grabs in huge packs of sprawling defenders and flighty forwards?

Then it occurred to me. The bloody tolls!

Teams don’t play Eastlink footy because the possibility of a blowout in the score is always there. They’re not willing to pay the toll!

Why lose by 12 goals when you can restrict the loss to 2 goals, or maybe even snatch a victory by kicking 6 goals whilst your opponent only kicks 5? What’s wrong with the coach saying “We won ugly today”? And the stats will look very impressive. 800 tackles to 750 tackles. 450 handballs to 412 handballs. Midfielders will post 30 plus possessions and defenders will be marveled at because they will register 25 plus possessions. Whats wrong with this? Only one thing really. I hate it.

The Cats played wonderful Eastlink footy in the 2007 grand final. They attacked in a forward direction, cut the opposition up with fast, free flowing ball movement, and hardly kicked it backwards all day. But maybe the 20 goal victory sent shivers through the competition. Maybe the watching coaches decided there and then to come up with a plan to hold the game up. Maybe they decided they would rather play the game in congested, dangerous traffic than let the game open up. Maybe they decided the price of a 20 goal hiding is just too high. Hence the birth of the so called “cluster”.

And so the Cats and Pies took to the field to decide the wee willy winky NAB championship. What game would they play tonight?

Thankfully the game wasn’t too ugly, unless of course you are a Pie supporter looking for a close contest.

Yes the score blew out, yes there was a nonsense possible report on Chris Bryan for a bump (extraordinary!), and yes there will be those who thought the result boring. But I say it’s still better than watching a 6 goal to 5 slugfest full of zones, clusters, floods and tempo footy. Well done Geelong and Collingwood, you were both prepared to pay the tolls.

Damian O’Donnell

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff Dips and spot on I really do think the 2007 result did have a serious impact on the competition clubs became terrified about getting thumped and the so called honorable loss became in vogue more and more . Loved the paying the toll part and while not a frequent melb traveller I certainly prefer the , Eastlink thanks Dips

  2. I think I still had hair when this game occurred.

  3. Great stuff, Dips.
    Excellent exhuming of a time capsule, too.

    From this 2014 vantage point, what would you say has really changed?
    The western ring road is still a poorly designed death trap.
    The eastlink is still a spacious alter to mankind’s false economy of automobile transport.
    What’s better? What’s worse?
    (Mostly, what’s better?)

  4. Lovely stuff. Did you find Lasseters Lost Reef while you were down there in the archives?
    Catporn – but it set me wondering what the Almanac would look like if Ross Lyon coached Geelong? Finger painting and stick figures?

  5. NAB Cup Final
    Friday 13 March, 7:40pm Etihad Stadium (Crowd: 37,277)

    Collingwood 1.6.6 (51) flogged by Geelong 0.18.19 (127)

    Umpires: McLaren, Jeffery, Donlon, M. Nicholls
    Michael Tuck Medal: Joel Selwood (Geelong)
    Bryan Super Goals
    Thomas 2, Clarke, O’Bree, Beams, Cloke Goals Ablett 3, S. Johnson 3, Selwood 2, Chapman 2, Lonergan 2, Stokes 2, Gamble, Varcoe
    Cox, Thomas, Lockyer, Pendlebury Best Selwood, Ablett, Chapman, Taylor, S. Johnson, Bartel
    Injuries Josh Hunt (knee)
    Nil Reports Nil

  6. Well done Dips.
    I just had to read the first Almanac post.
    Unsurprisingly I don’t remember that pre-season grand final…
    Loved your analogy about those roads…

  7. Mark Doyle II says

    F’n rubbish

  8. He is risen.
    Welcome back MD. Are you the “realKP” or just dressing room banter. Would the real MD/KP be so dismissive of a big Geelong win?
    Hope you understand the slight modification to make it suitable for the wider audience.

  9. Dips
    A really enjoyable read.
    And it contains many of your hallmarks, especially analogies I can relate to!
    It’s great to read retro stuff!

    P.S. Peter B, I think it may be a fake MD account.

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