Finals Week 1 – Geelong v Hawthorn: Brothers in Arms

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I am only now overcoming my cynicism of the Aaron Sorkin universe and getting through his US political drama ‘The West Wing’. It wasn’t until the season two finale ‘Two Cathedrals’ that I think finally got this show. The Prez Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen) was weighed down with the shock death of his long time political muse/secretary while also facing possible political ruin for lying about his MS condition. Bartlett seemed to blame everyone including the lord above for the death and all the trouble he had gone through in the past 12 months despite trying to make the USA and the world a better place.

He was ready to not seek re-election and give up fearing he would lose or be humiliated before realising that life is nothing but random events and everything will have to be faced in life no matter what. There would be no short cuts. The final moments of the episode were all set to Dire Straits’ epic track ‘Brothers in Arms’ too, an amazing piece of thought provoking television.

With this episode and its messages still rolling around in my brain on Friday morning it was time to focus on Geelong taking on Hawthorn in yet another final. I had felt avoidance with the Cats clashing with the Hawks in finals much like old Jed had looked at not contesting re-election as way to get away with lying to the American public. Was it worth the pain and sacrifice if  the Hawks did us again? 2013 had been shattering, 2014 had been expected.

Now with a win on Easter Monday and Geelong with a bit of its mojo back expectations were there and this game couldn’t be anything but massive. It seemed that anything that Geelong would achieve in the finals would have to be the expense of the three time premiers and long time arch rivals and all the possibilities raged in the subconscious. I wanted to watch it at home cut off from the outside world but knew it had to be faced.

I looked for signs, any signs, that would point to a win but these again were all random events. Seeing a car with a Hawthorn sticker broken down on the side of the road during the week I really wanted to see as a sign. The anniversary of Daniel Menzel’s knee injury also wasn’t a sign of some kind. Wearing certain clothes wouldn’t help and neither would sitting in a certain stool. It would be settled on the G that night and anyone not involved in the playing groups or football departments were powerless to do anything about it. This gave me a calmness and even confidence that everything would be fine. Events happened and it was best embrace than fear. We could do them this time around.

The Geelong supporters club in Perth was packed with the usuals for the game. There was the WAAFL ressies coach happy his team was out of the final so he could relax and the AFL finals and his Cats. There were upper middle class middle aged couples who betrayed their stylish confidence with raw emotion in some of the closer games. Then there were the young Cats fans who came down with one bearing a remarkable resemblance to Cam Guthrie and others critical of everyone from Chris Scott to Motlop and beyond but loved the club as much as anyone.

Semi-regular Brian came down for one of his rare appearances. He was a man who was beyond quiet and constantly nervous about the Cats chances without being pessimistic and who (like me) couldn’t take the final minutes of the 2009 GF. When I couldn’t take the pressure and went outside following Selwood’s last quarter miss in 09 he was out in the carpark of the Hyde Park Hotel pacing and shaking. We were together in solidarity when Chappy snapped that goal in the dying minutes. A friendship forged through forever memorable circumstances.

The rain and nerves made it slippery and error filled early before Motlop marked one on one in the square thanks to Jimmy the Beard and goaled to a roar from the 100 or so Cats fans packed in in front of the big screen. Hill got one back for the Hawks as the arm wrestle continued until Hawkins took a huge grab and kicked a goal to have Geelong up at quarter time. It seemed like moments in to the first quarter that Scooter Selwood already had the headband on clashing with Mitchell and letting him know he’s there every chance he gets.”‘Good start” is the only thing to come from Brian this quarter. As talkative as an Easter Island statue.

In the second quarter the captains clashed that resulted in a 50 metre penalty and goal to Captain Selwood as nerves started to subside. For all of Scooter Selwood’s roughhousing his older brother used his experience and nous to fool the ump and piss off ‘Good Bloke’ Hodge. Rioli and Hawkins traded goals before the Hawks started to get on top of their counterparts and turn the screws. The September specialist Burgoyne goaled thanks to an errant handball from Caddy before a double to Bruest had them well in control. Caddy made up for his previous error kicking a goal before the quick reply came from Schoenmakers who marked strongly over a deer in the headlights performing Ruggles.

Every inside 50 or goal for Geelong was a scrambling struggle while the Hawks waltzed in with their scoring opportunities. It was only 7 points to the Hawks at half time but the signs weren’t good. A smoke at half time was inhaled pretty much in one puff. Comments on the game between a few of us were done in single sentences and with hardly any syllables. “We can do this.” “Tough quarter”. “Got to take chances”. No one can look each other in the eye. Avoidance is the flavor of the month. Texts came in a rate of knots. Most supportive from neutral friends, some on the wind up and still bitter about their Eagles doing us a favour three weeks in a row then shitting the bed the night before.

I made a late run for the bar as the game started again to avoid the beginning such was the state of mind of not being able to stand the pressure. I was back in time to see Gunston had taken over from Bruest and kicked a couple but with little Lincoln getting one for the Cats. Geelong were struggling as the Hawks constantly intercepted looking to stretch the lead out. WA boy Duncan was having a shocker.

“They smell blood” was a rare comment from Brian.

Schoenmakers got another as one random and brave Hawks supporter in the room got louder over the hum of concerns from the Cats supporters. Hodge had a chance to stretch the lead to almost four goals in a low scoring affair before the turning point came. Hawkins, a strong performer in the game so far, laid a game turning tackle on Frawley. The resulting free kick found Menzel who had so much to play for tonight and took a brave mark backing back in to a pack which resulted in a goal. All of a sudden the Cats were back on as time-on approached.

Little Lincoln snapped superbly to have the Cats fans believing again after that tremendous lift from Hawkins and Menz. We believed! Blicavs, a big disappointment at times this season but playing a tremendous game this night finished from close range to put the cats in front after a quick handball from Menz. I could hardly watch in another case of avoidance and looked up to see Motlop mark and goal to put us back in front after Gunston had kicked another. One quarter to go with the Cats holding a slender lead.

Everyone privately hoped and prayed, discussion was not needed and the importance of this occasion not lost on anyone in on the room.

Rioli goaled first in the final quarter giving Bruce a chance to gush again on the telly and to give the Hawks back the lead. Lonegan took a few contested grabs looking evergreen as he was fearless. The real Guthrie lifted to another level around the stoppages and goaled but Burgoyne matched that nailing another shot from outside 50 as the momentum in the game swung at a whiplash like level. Every time the Hawks went forward I felt like I couldn’t watch but steeled myself to keep my eyes on the screen telling myself that this was the reality going on right now and had to be endured. What will be will be. Avoidance and excuses be gone. Like for President Bartlett there were no short cuts, no way out of facing challenges, no passive behavior whatsoever.

As the minutes ticked down every loose ball was pounced upon, every handball seemingly a throw such was the pace in another classic between two sides. With minutes to go the Selwoods combined to set up Caddy to put the Cats back in front..brothers in arms indeed! Would that be enough? “Next goal wins it” from Brian who piped up again for the obligatory comment for the quarter. Motlop had two chances go begging from tight angles. In the wash up after the match it was seen that Motlop made the mistake of not taking the ball out but at the time no one had the capacity in their overexcited stressed brain to process those thoughts as the Hawks went forward with seconds to go before Isaac Smith ended up with a kick inside 50.

The siren went, dozens of heads bowed around me and those who could talk swore. I thought this was their Hawkins moment albeit from a much better distance. We hoped for a miss but the chances were slim at best. I looked down and Bruce’s words were like I was hearing them under water such was the white noise in my brain.

I thought about the Dogs next week not even looking at the shot as Smith kicked and missed sending the room in to an unexpected pandemonium and a 1001 hugs between friends and strangers alike. Somehow Geelong had escaped with the win and were through to the prelim.

Relief and dozens of other emotions swept through me in a huge rush, it would take until Monday to get my head around the result. Geelong had done it and vanquished a foe. Much like the fictional president had showed to me the Cats had forged integrity through passion and determination. Luck perhaps played a little part too.

What also stayed with me about Friday night too was sharing with all those supporters after my own personal misgivings about the game, especially the ones I had sat or stood with all season long. The looks between us were a great sense of collective endeavor after going through that. Despite heartbreak against the Hawks and others in the past along with the good times you must feel that the best day is still to come to go forward and we will.

What a team, what a night, what a rivalry…and this was only week 1.

 

GEELONG 2.3 5.5 10.9 12.13 (85)

HAWTHORN 1.2 6.6 10.7 12.11 (83)

 

GOALS

Geelong: Caddy 2, McCarthy 2, Motlop 2, Hawkins 2, J.Selwood, Menzel, Guthrie, Blicavs

Hawthorn: Bruest 3 , Rioli 2, Schoenmakers 2, Gunston 2, Burgoyne 2, Hill

 

BEST:

Geelong: J.Selwood, Guthrie, Dangerfield, Blicavs, Hawkins

Hawthorn: Lewis, Breust, Rioli, Mitchell, Burgoyne

 

Umpires: Margetts, Stevic, Meredith   Crowd 87,533

 

 

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Terrific write up Dennis. Isn’t it fantastic that supporters from both sides spend the week looking for signs that their side might win on the weekend. Why do we think that our thoughts and actions can affect the outcome of a game of footy? What would you do if you were the footy God and you were bombarded with hopes and prayers all week from supporters of competing teams? Glad I’m just a humble suburban accountant.

  2. Great read, Dennis.

    Footy neurosis does deliver selective portents and signs. As a neurotic generally, and a footy neurotic in particular, I related to your sign readings of the broken down car (a good sign), the anniversary of Menzel’s knee (a sign to be ignored), etc.

    My footy neurosis extends to aligning all things Hawthorn with the brown shirts of Nuremberg. This feeling was not lessened at half time when two, Hawthorn supporting men behind me said, “Three quarter time, Maaate! We’ll be 38 points up and can go to the bar and sing the song! Maaate!”

    On a footballing front, despite all commentaries to the contrary, I LIKED the fact that Motlop went for goal in the dying minutes of the game, instead of doing the dodgy out of bounds. And I like the fact that Geelong consistently attempts to keep the ball in play, rather than go for the stoppage (Arrgghhh! that obvious, rushed no-pressure kick through Geelong’s scoring end by Hawthorn! Brought back bad memories of when the Chappell bros donned the brown shirts in 2008).

    Like you, though the siren brought a sense of defeat, I had a fleeting thought, another hopeful portent that floated in from the ethers – “he might miss”.

    Life/footy (and politics certainly) can be tricky.

    Glad you had the support of your party over in the west and thanks again for the good read.

    Jen

  3. As for omens I found the NAB auskick Ad where “Joel Selwood” ruffles the head of “Cyril Rioli” a sure sign the cats would prevail.
    Loved the laconic nature of this article a far cry form the white noise regularly inflicted upon us by Brian Taylor et al.

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