Fearless: Here endeth the season! There can be only one…


Grand Final: COLLINGWOOD V GEELONG MCG Saturday Afternoon

by Paul Thomson

Whilst the AFL heavies determined whether to leave the Meatloaf out in the rain, the rest of us were hoping that maybe the words of 70s classic ‘Macarthur Park’ would inspire action. True to form Meatloaf, imitated the cake and went off in the rain…and they’ll never have that recipe again…oh no…Meanwhile the two top teams of 2011 were undertaking last minute preparations for the big game. Injuries…what injuries…

Somewhere in the second half of the season, Geelong had overtaken Collingwood as the team to beat. Two reasons for this I believe. Collingwood had been great in 2011 with a 3pt loss to Geelong blotting its copybook. The rot began to set in with Heath Shaw’s ban for gambling. If ever a random act began to crumble the empire, this was it. From that moment on, Collingwood was never able to regain the continuity of its lineup with injuries and suspension not helping. A settled team with a good run of injuries is critical to finals success. On the other hand, the Cats had been spluttering a bit, excellent in parts, not so good in others. Ultimately, a loss to Sydney at home seemed to turn the ship. From there, a consistent lineup began to form, based on coach Chris Scott’s prediction that he would only need to tweak the team and infuse a bit of youth. The Collingwood faithful drew much solace from the final round clash that the Magpies had held a few cards close to their collective chest. The margin of 16 goals begged to differ. The Cats by then were the real challengers to the reigning premiers.

For the footy public, the game was a classic. There was very little between the two teams. Geelong started well with two Travis Varcoe goals before Collingwood settled with a couple of monster Travis Cloke goals evened up the contest. The Pies turned at quarter time only 1 point behind, after a late Joel Selwood goal regained Geelong the lead. Collingwood started the second quarter in a blaze of glory kicking the first three goals through Andy Krakouer, Cloke and Ben Johnson. The deafening Collingwood chant started to go around the ground…mmm…somewhat impulsive and premature but hey confidence is good and the crowd fed off the players. Going goal for goal saw the Cats endeavour to stop Collingwood increase its lead – bang – Krakouer, Stokes, Stevie J, Sidebottom in six minutes saw the lead maintained, whilst the Jpod got injured badly and stretchered from the ground, automatically subbed off for Mitch Duncan. The Pies had received good fortune as the Cats forward line was structurally altered.  The delay allowed the Cats some breathing space and this benefited them as they kicked the last two goals to be only 3 points behind at the main break. Cats’ assistant coach Nigel Lappin called the move of Jimmy Bartel to go forward. Again the initial parts of the third quarter saw both teams go goal for goal. Tom Hawkins had taken the bit between the teeth and marked strongly a few times, making up for the Jpod’s absence and kicking 3 goals for the quarter. Six scoring shots each for the quarter – Magpies 3.3 to Geelong 5.1 – Cats took a 7 pt lead into the last. A game that had had fierce contests for 3.5 quarters had nearly reached its climax when Norm Smith Medallist Jimmy Bartel kicked his third goal midway through the last quarter. The Pies had been close but that goal took the margin to 26 points. At that point, the Magpies seemed to have past the point of no return and couldn’t score goals. Within minutes, goals to Stevie J and Cameron Ling put the game into Geelong’s grasp. The lead had become 38pts with 6 minutes remaining…and so it became the final margin. Mick Malthouse’s fairytale exit from Collingwood was denied by ultimately the better team. Suddenly three premierships within 5 years and a better win-loss ratio sees Geelong at least the equal of Brisbane and their three-peat. In the interests of true fairness and equity, the time has come for the other Scott twin to taste this success.

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