Finals Week 1 – Port Adelaide v Geelong: The wisdom of walnuts


I’ve long held the view that The Sopranos was the best TV show ever made. Crackling script, superb acting, superlative storyline.


There is a scene where Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri goes to visit Christopher Moltisanti in hospital following a chaotic gun attack from a pair of misguided punks that almost took Christopher’s life. Christopher is hallucinating and descending into very dark places as he hovers between life and death, struggling to rationalise his past brutal and cruel indiscretions, apparently preparing to meet his maker. It’s during his recovery that Paulie Walnuts comes to visit.


Christopher explains to Paulie what he’s been battling; the visits from his mental demons, the guilty load that’s crushing him, the violent “clipping” of his father that replays every night. Christopher tells Paulie that he thinks he went to hell.


Paulie asks Christopher about the people he met on his travels into the twilight zone of hell.


“Did anyone there have horns, or buds for horns? Those goat bumps?”


Christopher says no and tells Paulie he only met a big Irish goon dressed in old fashioned clothing.


“Was it hot?” asks Paulie.


“I dunno,” says Christopher.


“The heat would have been the first thing you noticed,” exclaims Paulie is his magnificent New Jersey twang. “Hell is hot, that’s never been disputed by anybody. You didn’t go to hell!” he says gleefully, “You went to poiga-tory my friend.”


“I forgot all about poiga-tory,” says Christopher.


“Poiga-tory. A little detour on the way to paradise,” says Paulie.


And that’s exactly where Cats fans are: in poiga-tory.


Port dismantled the Cats just as Richmond did a few weeks ago. The scoreboard flattered us. The missed shots, had they been landed, would have done nothing more than paper over the cracks. No matter what we did Port would have found a way to overcome because finals are won by the best team. The best TEAM. The Cats are neither good enough to triumph nor bad enough to fail. We hover like a confused drone; dithering and buzzing and yet stationary. Too big to fail. It’s not hot where we are because we win enough to be considered a “good team”. But it’s not cold either. We’re comfortably cortisoned and delusional, existing in a straight jacket of corporate success and media savvy-ness, an organisation not an organism. The Cats have a bad case of success cake indigestion.


I spent most of my formative years yearning for success. Just one flag! If the footy gods bestowed a premiership, I would be forever grateful. Just one! Just ONE! Then I got my wish. And I got greedy. Wouldn’t two be fabulous! What about three! I grabbed my cake, and I ate it too. Hungrily. I left behind the bunch of losers that were. I left behind love.


We moved players on for the greater good. Johnno, Stokesy, Jimmy B, Jimmy K, Kingy, Smithy, Chappy, Varcoe, Stevie Motlop! And we replaced them like a chump who replaces a McCubbin with a Bunnings. The replacements try hard and work hard and play in the hooped jumper, but they form a contrived group; a collective of un-harmonious individuals. They play with all the joy of peasants in oppressive States who toil all day to make misery. We’ve become the neither-here-nor-there specialists. A clique that dwells in the hallucinatory state that imagines community, a team, is built by consultants with white boards and leadership programs and a sycophantic attachment to virtue signalling. What fools! And for some reason this remains a great mystery to all involved.


So, it is with a heavy heart that I now pray for Geelong to fail. We need to fail. The mache needs to crumble. I can’t cope with the middle ground any longer. The desolation and hollowness of a perpetually full belly. Purgatory is torture. Its unrelenting and cruel. An illusionary state that quietly brings on insanity. I feel like a man dying of thirst who sees a cool glass of water at the end of his grasp. No, just beyond the end of his grasp. Unreachable yet entirely visible. Tangible but impossible to attain. He reaches and reaches and reaches but we all know that mirages are fake.


Failure will give us perspective. Failure will teach us to love again and love will undertake a coup d’etat and throw out false prophets. We should embrace it because failure, it has been said, is our teacher not our undertaker.



PORT ADELAIDE     2.1     4.2     7.4     9.4     (58)

GEELONG                1.4     3.7     4.8     5.12     (42)



Port Adelaide: Motlop 3, Ebert 2, Dixon, Rozee, Ladhams, Marshall

Geelong: Stanley 2, Tuohy, Selwood, Dangerfield



Port Adelaide: Rockliff, Powell-Pepper, Ebert, Motlop, Wines, Hartlett, Butters

Geelong: Parfitt, Selwood, Dangerfield, Guthrie, Duncan, Taylor



To read more from Dips O’Donnell, click HERE.


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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. You make a good point, Dips. And make it well. But you might be overreacting a tad. (Thought of using “overacting”.) All those missed shots waste energy, suck momentum and develop a mood, maybe a fear. Tom only needs to kick 2 of 6 and we’re in it and the mood is different and we’re less cognisant of the crowd etc. And this was always going to be a hard game to win.(That said, if Tom misses his first two you might as well replace him onfield with… anyone. Have a bloke on the bench in the side just as plan B when Tom’s first two go wide. “Righto, Tom, go have a shower.” “But it’s only five minutes in.” “Yeah. Take all the hot water you want. It will”ve reheated by the time the other lads get there.”)
    Garry Rohan has a finals record akin to Leon Davis. Our small forwards were pathetic. What’s Dalhouse ever given us? Henry is the worst kick I’ve ever seen. No 4 is too fragile for finals footy. You’d make enemies dropping him. Just the sort of act Sheedy would relish. A memento mori for the whole side.
    And last night sort of amped the idiocy of not playing Stanley in last year’s finals, didn’t it.
    You’re right, though… we will win next week. You and I will be back on board. We’ll lose the prelim by 35. (And there’s your poigatory right on cue.)
    BTW The Wire = #1.
    Deadwood = #2
    The Sopranos and everything else = #3 etc

  2. Excellent Dips, clear eyed. With the usual brilliant quips and observations. Purgatory indeed.

    Last night’s game was the first time I have watched a whole game this season. Port look great. Fast and explosive, the way the Cats and Hawks midfield were back a few years. The game, in my mind could be boiled down to the Dangerfield goal, where he sprinted half the field. My comment on Twitter read:

    Not taking away from Danger’s brilliant goal but what sort of crap coaching places your whole team in one end of the ground banking on a turnover. As far as effective, efficient and creative go, I’m giving the coaching tactic a hard fail.

    The Cats fate lies somewhere between that middle management coaching model and a team of wearying legends. Yes it makes for great footage but the Cats were never going to win that game on turnovers.


  3. RK – thought the same thing myself about the Danger goal!! Nothing like a good vent though is there? Like a post session ablution.

    ajc – respectfully disagree. My point is that Tommy’s kicking would have made no difference. Port would have found a way, because they were just better. Tommy kicks them, the ball goes into the middle, they win it out, and get the goal back. That’s why I think we blame Tommy’s kicking at our peril. The problem is far deeper. The problem is one of culture. As to my over-reacting well I’m probably guilty of that from time to time – say weekly!

    Poiga-tory is very stressful.

  4. Hey?! You can’t just add goals out of thin air when I get a few back for my side with straight kicking.
    I don’t know if it’s culture. I reckon Zurbo makes good sense on what happened (happens) in his piece. (Spoiler alert: coaching.) 7 points down in the last when someone erased by claret turned it over in the middle. It was no fait a compli.

  5. Daryl Schramm says

    That is a brilliant written and clever rant Dips. I’m of the view the misses at goal early did have an impact on the game and the result from my position in the TV room. The crowd sensed the opportunity to roar louder and did so.
    Never seen The Sopranos.or The Wire. Deadwood is a classic.

  6. Nice summary, Dips.

    Some players go missing in finals, and alas Rohan is one of those. I would drop him (especially of those rumours are true, ahem).

  7. ajc, yes to those three shows, in no particular order, and I would add The Shield and Justified.


  8. Kevin Densley says

    Of course, Dips, Purgatory can be viewed as the place where one stays to expiate one’s sins before proceeds to Heaven – when that move actually takes place, though, is another matter, of course.

    Fine piece!

  9. Dips love the passion let’s say similar conversations have taken place re Norwood fc over here in SA re there current situation over the last week or so and yes we went top in 12,13 and 14

  10. It annoys me that when the team is not playing well there is no animation in the coaches box ? l would have gone on to edge of the ground bellowing orders at the players to lift their game. The Cats.were running into each and other falling over, whilst Port grabbed the ball leaving the Cats in a heap on the field. Henderson was a saviour and unfortunately Hawkie missed his chances. Go Cats next week. Chris Scott You got them there now show some passion it won’t mess your new hair style up. I love the Cats, so better luck next game and hopefully the game after that. Go Cats

  11. Spot on Patricia. I still love the Cats too. I get carried away at times. But is Chris Scott liking his beard and haircut just a little too much?

    Midway through the year I was loving our young blokes and a real sense of team looked to be building. Then we turned all that on its head, went back to the same old soldiers who have already demonstrated that they can’t cut it, and the same old drab post game press conference where reality is just ignored.

    Maybe next year………….

  12. With you on The Sopranos #1. No show explains modern politics & leadership better. I tried The Wire but it was so unrelentingly realistic & grim that I couldn’t keep watching. Shakespeare knew drama needs leavening with some farce to keep us engaged.
    The first half of this game was unrelentingly dismal rugby union. Yuk. Port’s midfield ran rings around the Cats in the second half. Would have won by more but for the Cats crammed defensive 50. Scott coached brilliantly to hold the Cats to just 5 goals.
    Motlop was outstanding for Port. Every team needs a flakey genius for these games and moments. Chris Scott is Malthouse with a beard sending genius to Adelaide to delight new flocks & torture the unbelievers.
    “I left behind love”. Great line. We like because; we love despite.
    This QF looked like it was played by robots in a phone booth (kiddies ask your parents). Friday night was played wildebeests on the veldt.
    Anson – Preliminary final? Delusions of adequacy.

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