Footy: A midsummer reflection on the rise of the Cats and the Saints in light of 2004

By Sam Steele

When it’s 44 degrees outside and the rest of the family are on holiday, what else is there to do but bung a couple of old footy tapes into the VCR and relive some of the great games of the past.

As fate would have it, I chose to have a look back at the 2004 finals, a series of particular interest for the youthful emergence of the 2009 Grand Finalists, Geelong and St Kilda, both of which contested their first finals series for some time that year.

Both were humiliated in their respective Qualifying Finals but recovered to have solid wins in the Semi Finals, before narrowly losing high-class Preliminary Finals to more experienced and highly fancied interstate opponents.  The gallantry of these defeats was such that the consensus at the time was that their respective moments of glory were not far off.

Looking back, it is therefore interesting to look at the 2004 Preliminary Finals and ponder how it is that the Cats have indeed fulfilled that prediction – twice – whereas the Saints, notwithstanding an excellent year in 2009, have been unable to conquer the mountain.  After reviewing both games, I regard this as a conundrum because in my view at least, these games showed the Saints were clearly the stronger side of the two and certainly far better placed to win a flag at the time.

My recollection of St Kilda’s six-point loss to Port Adelaide at Football Park was that it was one of the all-time great games.  Seeing it again doesn’t alter that opinion one bit.  It was an absolute cracker, played throughout with a quality and intensity that I’ve rarely seen matched even by the 2009 Grand Final.  St Kilda was desperately unlucky to lose, just centimetres separating them from a (another!) dramatic “toepoke” goal by Brent Guerra that could have sent the game into extra time.  Much was made of the interruption to St Kilda’s early dominance caused by the mandatory crowd invasion following Fraser Gehrig’s 100th goal, but in truth it was their failure to convert (and Port’s three goals from their first three “inside fifties”) during that period that was probably more costly.  It must also be said that Port Adelaide were at the peak of their form and played superbly against the Saints despite huge psychological pressure following their finals “chokes” of the previous few years.

By contrast, Geelong’s nine-point loss to Brisbane was seen at the time as a superb effort by a rank outsider against the competition benchmark.  However, in retrospect, the game looks a tame affair compared with the Port-Saints match.  Granted, the Cats were lively and spent long periods in the ascendancy but against a clearly ageing, vulnerable Lions team. However, even with Brisbane’s own mistakes and profligacy in front of goal, Geelong’s loss looks absolutely predictable because of their consistent failure to convert their dominance on the scoreboard and an inexplicable reluctance to “go for the jugular” when they had Brisbane on the ropes late in the third quarter.

Apart from the games themselves, seeing the respective line-ups compared with today is a fascinating and significant insight into the teams’ performances then and now.  In each case about half the personnel who played in those finals in 2004 are still at their clubs.  But it is in the relative performance of those players between then and now where I think the clear improvement by Geelong relative to St Kilda can be seen.

On that night in 2004, the Cats had excellent performances from Ling and Millburn, but the contributions from many of their other current leaders were patchy by their 2009 standards.  These days, you don’t see G. Ablett being tackled or dropping chest marks.  You don’t see M. Scarlett dropping off his opponent on a lead.  You don’t see P. Chapman missing easy set shots for goal.  And you certainly don’t see C. Mooney playing in the last line of defence looking like a fish out of water.  The improvement by these players in five years has been enormous, and I suspect the way they have been coached and managed tactically has also played a big role.  For the record, Corey, Bartel, Harley and Wojcinski were serviceable.  With the possible exception of the now-retired Harley, all these players have improved significantly since then.

By contrast, the St Kilda players still at the club who played in their 2004 Preliminary Final were, for the most part, as good then as they are now and some were better.  Hayes had as good a game as he did in the 2009 Grand Final. Riewoldt was both inspirationally athletic and maddeningly inaccurate, just as he is today.  Dal Santo was class then, as now.  Ball was superb and crazy-brave, his form that night making me further question the Saints’ decision to let him go.  Baker was a younger, tougher, more creative version of his current self, and Blake was a lively and versatile rucking option, much as now.  Milne’s game that night was one of a number of poor finals performances that has contributed to the view that he is suspect under real pressure (although in his defence he played very well against the Swans in the Semi Final the week before).  Probably only Koschitzke and Goddard have clearly improved over the journey, both playing only bit-parts that night.

The other side of the equation is, of course, the players who are no longer at the clubs and the relative improvement delivered by their replacements.  Again, I think the ledger here clearly favours Geelong.  Two of their most experienced players in 2004, Peter Riccardi and Ben Graham, didn’t provide the leadership that they should have, Graham particularly squandering numerous goalscoring opportunities.  A number of other players that night would frankly not get a look-in in the current Geelong squad, most notably Kent Kinglsey and David Haynes (albeit, both were respectable contributors that night), and the additions since then of players like Ottens, Enright and Mackie represent unarguable improvements to the strength and balance of the team.

As for St Kilda, many of their old guard were among their best in 2004 – Harvey (in his 300th game), Peckett, Thompson and, of course, Gehrig, who was near unstoppable in the first half.  Heath Black, Brett Voss and Trent Knobel were also important contributors that night but were moved on fairly quickly after 2004.  There is no question that the 2009 Saints were defensively far stronger than in 2004, but it is highly debatable whether the additions over the past five years have made the team any stronger overall than they were back then.  How might they have fared in the 2009 Grand Final with an in-form G-Train in the goal square and a 30-possession game from the indefatigable Harvey?

I’d be really interested in the recollections of Saints and Cats fans on their 2004 finals campaigns and whether or not they agree with my assessments of where they were placed then and what they’ve done right and wrong since then.

About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. pauldaffey says


    My recollections are similar to the most enjoyable analysis you’ve just given us. I remember the Port and St Kilda game being a cracker, with the Saints having all the play early and Port staying in the match only through their accuracy. Port’s effort to stave off a rampant St Kilda was impressive. Their coolness was in stark contrast to the jitters they showed in the Prelim against Collingwood the previous year (in which I thought Nick Stevens was clearly Port’s best player).

    I went to the Brisbane and Geelong game on the Saturday night and was taken aback at how lethargic the Lions were. Geelong should have won. They just didn’t have enough belief to take their chances and Brisbane did just enough to scrape through, by nine points from memory. For some reason, I remember seeing Dylan McLaren lope around and questioned to myself whether he was an indication of the Lions’ decline.

    I tipped Port with confidence the next week. Brisbane were gallant in the first half – I’ll never forget Clark Keating’s horizontal grab and subsequent goal from fifty in the shadow of half-time. But Port ran all over them. I’ll especially never forget Michael Voss attempting to chase a nippy Port midfielder in the centre square. Voss could barely move. I was shocked to see how limited he’d become.

    St Kilda would have romped all over the Lions if they’d got through. Geelong would have beaten neither Port nor St Kilda.

  2. John Butler says

    Fascinating exercise Sam

    I support neither, but have long exposure to the Saints brethren.

    You hit the nail on the head when you mention leadership (on and of field).

    The Cats wobbled after that year, but didn’t panic. They did due diligence and then let Bomber get on with it. Costa deserves credit.

    The Saints had Mr Thomas as coach (and many other roles). I’m in the camp who doubted he was tactically up to it, and he wasn’t the sort to delegate sufficiently where he was weak. As a result, they wasted more time going sideways. Thomas and the Pres also wasted energy falling out with each other.

    I tend to think they’ve sorted things out now. I would expect Lyon would learn from going too defensive in the 2009 finals, but you need a lot of things to go your way to win a flag nowadays.

    The Cats? If they could win again they would be one of the great teams.

  3. Richard Naco says

    It is an excellent exercise (and Lord knows we need some food for thought through these long twilight days of the summer off-season). The secret to identifying the street signs to the clubs’ different paths after 2004 may well have been the 2006 season, when both squads slipped off their positions near the summit & teetered on the brink of the awefull abyss so familiar to devotees (and there surely can be no other applicable noun) of Richmond or Melbourne.

    I will profess to being almost entirely ignorant of the tortuous path taken by St Kilda, although obviously the hiring of Ross Lyon has been the cornerstone of the Saints’ outstanding 2009 season (the last game notwithstanding). He has certainly remolded the team in to his own vision, and perhaps the transition time for that to occur is a naturally more prolonged process than for any existing coach to address perceived shortfalls in his team’s obvious underachievement.

    The Cats seem to have been far more hurt by their 2006 season than the Saints (and they did drop further down the ladder), and the incredibly extensive review undertaken by Brian Cook that season exposed a hell of a lot of raw nerves. The Cats heirarchy showed enormous courage at that time to hang on to Mark Thompson, with the decision to keep him not even being put to a vote at an extraordinary Geelong Board where Thompson had spelled out his plan for reviving the Cats’ on field performance (and I’m basing my version almost entirely on what has been printed in The Mission, so I won’t do a blow by blow account of what has already been written so well by Scott Gullan in that book).

    Mark Thompson himself also showed immense courage and character at that time to shrug off what can only have been a deeply hurtfull episode and emerge from it with enhanced drive, a clear vision and a greater sense of purpose. I think that the success of Geelong since 2007 has been largely due to the club having the guts and the gumption to stand by a man that they had always known was a superb coach; an intelligent adjustment of club structures in order to free that man of all distractions and digressions from doing his job; and Mark Thompson’s courage, vision & tenacity. My favourite member of the current Geelong team is the coach: I think he’s outstanding.

    St Kilda’s revival has not had the sharp incisive drama of Geelong’s, and perhaps the pain of September 2009 will be the sharp, vicious spur that they need to get over that final hump and claim it all. Certainly, they have to be ranked as one of several teams with an extremely good chance of winning the title in 2010 (as do the Cats), and I think that both teams will be major players in what is looking to be a far closer and more spectacular season than any of us have experienced in quite some time.

  4. Sam – I’m a Cats man and was at the 2004 Preliminary. I dared to believe but watched as we found a way to lose. I could see the end was close for the once mighty Lions. They won that game like an aging Geelong now wins it’s games – through sheer will power.

  5. Historical revisionism is going to be really interesting re Geelong 2000-2006. Ben Graham had no ruthlessness in him, but he was a nice player, and a frustrating player. I think he’d have helped the Geelong 2007-09 sides assuming reasonable fitness/mobility. Consider his merits in comparison with Nathan Ablett/a young Tom Hawkins? Leadership was a key in 2007, where it had been lacking before. I remember wriign columns where a 20 year old Gary Ablett showed more leadership than his (significantly) older team-mates. ONe day at KPark in particular when, as a small forward playing the Davey role he realised his team was falling down badly at centre half forward, so went and played there himself! And did OK.

  6. Oh, and Dips, you must be back in the office.

  7. JTH – been back since the 4th – off to Yarrawonga for a week or two after Friday. You beauty !! The mighty Yarrawonga pigeons might have started pre-season by now?

  8. My recollection of the 2004 Premliminary Final between Geelong and Brisbane is hazy at best (I was doped up on some pretty potent painkillers while enduring an extended bout with a nastily painful eye disease). I do, however, remember Leigh Matthews’ comments from a press conference in the lead up.

    He accused Geelong of trying to talk themselves up, while actually being “scared kids in a haunted house”, or something to that extent. He mocked the Cats team. I am nothing if not vindictive when it comes to my footy, and I remember pleading with the footy gods to let us beat the Lions. I didn’t really expect us to do much, and was thrilled with how close we got. I was a weaker supporter in those days – close enough was good enough (being a Geelong supporter, you had to take your victories where they came).

    In the end, it was us who gave the Lions a fright, not the other way around. But still, how much sweeter it would have been if the Cats had done the unexpected and beaten the Lions.

    I think you’re spot on, Sam, with your assessment of both clubs’ improvement. Geelong and St Kilda were always compared and contrasted, having the two baby lists in the league. Geelong were probably thought to be better than they were at the time, because we had more “big-name” players than the Saints, and managed to face more teams having off-days than any other club. At the time, St Kilda were the more consistant, better-performing team. I could be mistaken, but was it 2004 when the Saints won the first ten games of the season? They were definitely showing as a genuine flag threat that year, while Geelong were in with a chance only if a lot of luck fell their way.

    Now, though, the Geelong players have found a common purpose and goal, genuinely love playing for each other, and have one of the finest gameplans going around. St Kilda are more impressive than ever before, but a lack of the mateship and harmony that Geelong possess, along with a negative style of game has seen them fall short.

    I look forward to 2010 to see how the game’s hottest rivarly pans out!

  9. The only memories of these two games i have are Gehrig’s 100th goal and Shaun Hart getting messed up by Daniel Bradshaw which, sadly, ended his career. I’ve always wondered if Hart holds a grudge against Bradshaw for that..

  10. Louise Dorian says

    Thanks for the reflection Mr Steele. It may be simplistic however my initial reaction to the discussion regarding the differential between the teams since 2007 was concise: Selwood. The depth of Geelong’s plunge in 2006 indeed reaped a rich reward.

  11. Gosh, I remember that too! That was nasty. As cruel luck has it, one of the most cautios players (wearing the helmet and all) would have to get one of the nastiest injuries. Poor bloke.

  12. Yeah i’ve always found that, well not funny but ironic. The only bloke to wear a helmet in the AFL and his career is ended because of a knock to the head.

  13. Steve Healy says

    Nathan Burke was a better helmeted player than Shaun Hart

  14. Darky,

    I’m not a Geelong fan, so I didn’t see them a lot, but I thought Ben Graham was symptomatic of The Old Geelong. In fact, he embodied it. He had the physical tools to change the course of a game, but not the steel. He did very little to even marginally influence the course of a game, let alone change the tone of one. At an age when he could influence younger teammates, the Cats were much better off without him in 2007.

    The current player who astounds me most with his ability to bend the course of a game to his will is Joel Selwood. (Witness his goal early in the 2009 Grand Final, when he created a passage to goal through sheer tenacity.) So Louise, I entirely agree with your summation. The Cats’ selection of Selwood after the 2006 season was a huge step towards the subsequent flags.

    And Dips, the Pigeons would indeed be training. Tim Hargreaves is only just younger than yourself (and he’s never won a Sebastopol Gift). Maybe you could pull on the boots and join him.

  15. Daff

    I’m interested in the idea of a (relatively talented) player in another team. Agree entirely that Ben graham wasn’t ab;e to lead the way. But I reckon he would have been in Geelong’s best 22 in 2007. Even if fourth picked on the bench. Think of the flexibility.


  16. Damian Watson says

    I remember how pivotal Gavin Wanganeen was to Port’s line-up in that Preliminary Final. He kicked two amazing goals late in the game, one from 60m and the other a snapshot,he proved to be the difference. From memory he was magnificent in the second half the following week as well.

  17. pauldaffey says


    You’re right about the best 22, and about flexibility (there was a period when Graham was thrown forward almost every week), but I just think he effected the wrong tone.


    Wanganeen did play a huge part in that finals series. I think he kicked four in the grand final and was unlucky to miss out on the Norm Smith.

  18. Wanganeen’s goal in the last quarter of the Grand Final was spectacular, the one where he snapped it over his shoulder from 45m out.

  19. Daff

    Very interested in imagining Richo playing his career elsewhere. Or, at a different point on the compass, imagining Dermie elsewhere.


  20. JTH – unfortunately we didn’t have to imagine Dermie at Collingwood. We saw the whole ugly thing. What a tragedy that was. Like watching one of your favourite boxers getting knocked out.

  21. Steve Healy says

    Yeah, Wanganeen was better than Pickett in the GF in my opinion, but ill defend Pickett because of his brief stint at the Dees

  22. Sam
    A very enjoyable analysis. As a North supporter, I have not re-visited either match. But my abiding memory of the Power-Saints match was willing the St.Kilda supporters NOT to run onto the field when the G-train kicked his ton. I remember thinking at the time that this incident was a pivotal moment.
    Darren Dawson

  23. Richard Naco says

    Astute comment, Louise.

    Selwood Mk III’s impact at the Cats has been even more significant than it appears to a casual observer. The sight of one of the youngest players geeing up the team before they headed back on to the turf in the 2009 GF was astounding, and applying your logic, was probably a significant factor in the way that the game changed so comprehensively in the second half.

    I also love the way that he refused to play the (olde) Geelong Way in the loss to Norths at home in 2007 that triggered the 16 game win streak, and the way that the coaching staff were astute enough to use that as a lever to embarrass the senior players by putting together a highlights package of the only Cats’ player who refused to lay down and die of that miserable afternoon at Kardinia Park.

    I almost feel sorry for poor old Richmond as they were next in line to play Geelong, and scored a opposition with vast talent and a fire well & truly lit under them. So you would be very right in that Selwood was the fire-starter that Thompson & his team used to ignite the inferno that has basically burnt so brightly ever since.

    Even with a highly intelligent, charismatic and much loved leader like Cameron Ling seemingly poised to step up in to the captaincy, I would not be very surprised if Joel Selwood is appointed instead. At the very least, he will become the next vice captain of the club.

  24. Darky,

    Is your question really about tone, as in I thought Ben Graham set a poor tone for younger players, and in that vein what of the tone set by Richo and Dermie?

    Richo set the tone at Tigerland. Through the second half of his career, he was actually bigger than the club (not that he ever sought to be). Richmond could never hope to challenge the top teams while Richo was the catalyst for success or failure. I loved his flaws, but they were of a nature that they needed to be offset. He needed to be in a team where he had two or three similarly large characters. He especially needed a fellow big forward to act as a foil, a player like Darren Bradshaw, with a quiet but strong personality.

    About six years ago, I thought, for Richo’s own sake, he should have gone to a club with big personalities and a big chance of success. I think it takes guts for players to leave a weak club where they’re popular to achieve to their fullest at a stronger club. In hindsight, Wayne Campbell should have left Richmond for North in 1998 and Robbie Flower certainly should have left Melbourne in the ’80s.

    Dermie worked beautifully at Hawthorn because he was surrounded by big personalities. He knew how to lead, but he was also a magnificent team player. Hawks teammates loved him for it. It helped that those Hawthorn teams had a champion on every line.

    Richo never had that luxury, and he never looked like having it.

  25. Sam Steele says

    Well from sitting at home by myself watching TV, I seem to have started a wide ranging discussion! Thanks all for your feedback.

    To respond to some of the main points:
    Daff – I had a similar view of the Brisbane-Geelong Prelim Final at the time and in retrospect. Geelong should have won but contrived to lose it in a 90s style finals performance. Ben Graham should have been their matchwinner but missed marks and goals that were terribly costly, particularly from a guy that should have been showing leadership to a young team. He and Riccardi were the last relics of that fragile Geelong era and they played like it.

    It’s easy to say in hindsight but I think Brisbane were an arrogant, complacent team in 2004 and a number of their actions in the Prelim and Grand Finals (think Aker getting run down by Corey while standing there considering his options, think Lynch boxing on recklessly with Wakelin) epitomised this. I had forgotten Leigh Matthews “haunted house” line until I saw it again on the tape, but this was another example of it. It’s hard to like Port Adelaide at any time, but I was quite pleased that they knocked Brisbane off that day. Brisbane only needed to come up against a side with as much aggro as themselves and in Josh Carr, Damien Hardwick and Byron Pickett, Port provided it. Brisbane fell for the bait, losing focus in the crucial early stages. It was not surprising that Brissy slipped down the ladder quickly after 2004. Port’s slide was more unexpected but I think a lot of stemmed from losing the hardness that Carr and Hardwick provided.

    Interesting that two of the most aggro members of these sides, Hardwick and B. Scott front up as debut coaches this year. For those that believe (as I
    do) that the players who make the best coaches typically have relatively modest talents for which they compensate with hard work, aggression and a good mix of footy smarts and rat cunning, these two look like they have the perfect pedigree for coaching.

    Gavin Wanganeen was indeed a matchwinner in both the Prelim and Grand Final for Port. Every now and then an old champ sniffs a last shot at glory and grabs it with glee. This was one such example. Interestingly, he was possessionless at half time in the Prelim, but what a last quarter he played. I do think Pickett deserved the Norm Smith medal though. Eleven runs with bounces and a game-breaking couple of goals early were critical.
    Much like Michael Long in 1993.

    Yes – 2004 was the year St Kilda opened with 10 straight wins (14 including the pre-season comp in which they beat Geelong incidentally). Hamill was a big loss for them as he gave an already powerful forward line another dimension, as well as some steel and reliability. They did well to recover their form in the Semi Final and Prelim but in the end, missing a top 2 spot cost them dearly. I don’t know that they would have beaten Brisbane in the Grand Final though – they were physically and psychologically mauled by them in the first week of the finals and as we know – St Kilda and GF day don’t mix well!

    Interesting comments about the effect of the all-in review at Geelong post-2006. I was involved in some work with Geelong Board member Greg Hywood in 2005 and after they lost that heartbreaking final to Sydney, and I remember him the following week stating adamantly that they’d win the flag the next year, so gutted were they. He got that very wrong on one level but in the end he was only 12 months out. So perhaps the review was the pivotal action that turned the team around. The Joel Selwood comments are interesting too. I certainly can’t think of a “Selwood” equivalent at St Kilda (or anywhere else for that matter).

    How did Richo get into this discussion? I don’t know, but it will certainly be fascinating to see Richmond’s first season of the post-Richo era. They will be almost an anonymous team. Only Ben Cousins has the profile to be a “tone-setting” player. Hopefully that tone will be all about professionalism, on-field intensity and skill.

  26. Tony Roberts says

    With your knowledge of country footballers, I assume that your reference to Darren – as opposed to Daniel – Bradshaw as a potential Tiger forward was intentional. I recall that his one AFL match was against them at Docklands (mid-2004?), but he went goal-less and never got another go. I believe that he became a big force when he returned to the Ovens & Murray from the Lions reserves. Is he still playing?

    Regarding Hart and Daniel B, the collision was entirely accidental. (They were two of a very few Lions actually contributing against Geelong, presaging their implosion against Port.) I’m sure that Hart never bore him a grudge, and that he would be as disappointed as I am at the circumstances leading to Bradshaw leaving the Lions for Sydney.
    Tony R

  27. Tony,

    Yes, I make that mistake too often. Darren is Daniel’s brother. Darren did play one game for Brisbane, but at barely six feet in the old scale he was too small to be a key forward.

    Magic hands, though. He went to West Adelaide for a season and kicked 97 goals. Then he broke his contract to return to Wodonga, the Bradshaw’s home club, where he’s had a fitful career of brilliance interspersed with distraction.

    That’s a description of many country full-forwards.

  28. Richard E. Jones says

    I WATCHED the TV coverage of the Brissie-Cats prelim. from the Sandhurst clubrooms under the Queen Elizabeth Oval grandstand.
    The Bendigo League’s Dragons were celebrating their first grand final victory since 1983 so to say it was pretty boisterous in their rooms is an understatement.
    My main memory is of Voss standing hands on hips, and that perennial smug grin on the dial, verballing a couple of my Cats. It might sound like heresy to BrisVegas fans — and indeed, old Fitzroy faithful — but I have never been a fan of Voss.
    Not outright hatred as in “anyone in a Squawks brown and puke guernsey”, but close enough.
    Voss’ sledging antics placed him in premier position in that discipline in the AFL, I maintain. Much like Steve “Tugger” Waugh in the cricket stakes.
    After calling a late 2001 game between Brissie and Geelong at Skilled Stadium for the National Indigenous Radio Service a co-commentator suggested I help the boundary rider with an after-match interview with the Lions’ midfielder.
    If you’ve got this far reading this comment, it will come as no surprise that I declined the offer. Apart from the fact that the Lions caned the Cats that day, I had no wish to hear Voss mouth the usual platitudes about the opposition, let alone his mob.
    Anyway, after the ’04 prelim. and very sad, I walked the short distance home from the QEO and finished packing. We flew out to Milan and thence to Croatia the next day.

  29. Richard E. Jones says

    DARKY and Daff: yep, as an AFL team leader B. Graham makes a very handy NFL punter.
    You’re right about no steel, Daff. He’d be lucky to have any tin or copper in him, so pliable and wishy-washy was that gentleman.

    Oh and guys — snagged a copy of Footy Almanac 2009 from Border’s (opposite Readings) the other day in Lygon Street. They had a special on, unbeknown to us. So walked along Lygon St. clutching my copy: retail price $24.74 ($8.25 discount).

    Only problem is the front cover. Have to place the 2007 Almanac on top of it on the bedside table. Not going to wake up with a Brown and Puke Squawk jumper alongside of me in the line of sight first thing in the morning !!!!

  30. pauldaffey says


    When I was growing up, no one hated Hawthorn even though they were very successful. Hatred was reserved for Carlton and Collingwood.

    You always bucked that trend. Somehow you’ve always managed to hate Hawthorn and NOT hate Carlton and Collingwood.

    While I thought you an idiosyncratic individual for that and other reasons, I now think you were close to the mark. Hawthorn are hateable, and I’m finding it harder to hate Collingwood and Carlton.

    It’s a funny old world.

  31. Richard

    Agree with you about Voss. I can’t believe how often you can see him yapping at the opposition in the old replays. Still, I wouldn’t mind that attitude (and that talent) in my team.

    And a post-script to my trip down memory lane – Round 6 2005. 2004 wooden spooners Richmond beat 2004 Premiers Port Adelaide just 7 months later by 56 points after standing Port a 28 point lead early on. Richo in his 200th game took 17 marks and Nathan Brown bagged a lazy 6 goals just a few weeks before that terrible broken leg. Not sure what this proves except that AFL footy can change very quickly.

  32. Paul

    My hatred is reserved exclusively for Carlton and it’s simply because I saw them beat us in two Grand Finals when I was still at a relatively tender age.

    I can easily understand a Geelong supporter hating Hawthorn for much the same reason.

    Collingwood has always been too much of a laughing-stock to be hateable. 1980 – need I say more?

  33. PS. Vossy?

    At this minute, he’s the most interesting character in the AFL. His performance in trading like a Wall Street warrior during trade week was breathtaking. It’s a move that took enormous gumption. I for one will be intrigued to see if it bears fruit.

    I suspect that it will bear fruit, but not enough. The Lions won’t make the Grand Final let alone win the flag.

    Maybe he’ll find some humility yet.

  34. I imagine that when you’re endowed with great talent and are used to being able to turn it on at a moment’s notice, being stuck in a coach’s box with only a phone at your disposal would be a quick path to learning humility. I liked Voss the coach in 2009 far more than Voss the player as I could see him coming to terms with that realisation.

  35. Richard E. Jones says

    DAFF: I recall you had real disdain for the red and black boys from Windy Hill. An extremely serious disdain, at that. Perhaps stemming from the behind-the-jump work at the social club out there ??

    How can anybody in the modern world seriously hate poor old Collingwood (forever). They never did anyone any harm for more than 3 decades — from 1958 to 1990, to be precise — and then again no harm done from 1991 to 2009. And counting !
    And Carlton? Well, the BlueBaggers have a brilliant capacity for self-destruction. Tune in to the Big Jack rip asunder practices and then fast forward to the river cruise debacle.
    Oh, and toss in the best handful of Fev and Houlihan outrages and there you have the Old Dark Navy Blues of recent memory.

    PD and Stainless: could the antics and petulance of little Clarko have added to the hateability (is that a word) of the Squawkees? I’d say he’s added substantially to that factor.
    And surely no one bar a brown and puke devotee could seriously like, let alone love, players such as Campbell Brown, Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis.

    I rest my case.

  36. Richard

    I maintain real hatred of a footy team occurs when they cause personal pain (i.e. knock your own team off in a Grand Final) and then rub it in by exhibiting poor behaviour. The latter trait alone doesn’t cut it.

    The current Hawthorn outfit isn’t exactly loveable but I can’t find it in me to claim a real hatred of them because they’ve caused me no real distress. Yes, they have a coach with a short fuse, yes, they have a few hot-heads in the team, and yes, they have an outspoken President. But they’re hardly alone on any of these counts.

    I venture to suggest that the real reason you hate Hawthorn rather than Carlton or Collingwood is that they pinched the 2008 Flag from the Cats. Since then, they’ve rubbed it in by behaving boorishly on and off the field but that’s not the underlying cause. That they were singlularly unimpressive in 2009 as well must be even more galling for Cats’ fans because it merely confirms the maddening truth that they were knocked off by an inferior team that just happened to play better in the game that really counted.

    I say this with such conviction because I hate Carlton for this very reason. In 1972, they were a lesser team than Richmond but played inspired football to beat us in the Grand Final. It was my first ever VFL game and it cut me to the core. In 1982, they did much the same and I was there again. Although I’d grudgingly admit they were probably the better team that year, there was an arrogant streak about that team, their administration and supporters that just made the whole experience truly awful. I have always hated Carlton and have delighted in their demise over the past decade. I sincerely hope your comment about their capacity for self-destruction proves accurate in 2010!

    While on the subject, there’s an interesting article in The Age today about the apparently widespread “hatred” of the Australian cricket team within Australia. The cause cited is again arrogant and unsporting behaviour. So where’s the personal pain that causes real hatred in this case? I’d argue that it stems from Australian cricket fans feeling let down by a team that they expect to have the greatest admiration for. The pleasure that they should have experienced from what has arguably been our most successful era has been spoiled by unsavoury incidents and accusations. For many cricket followers, this has been distressing enough to prompt them to say “I hate the Aussies”.

  37. Richard,

    Yes, I hate Essendon more than any club. This didn’t happen when I grew up in the area, or even when I was behind the jump at the Essendon social club during my uni years.

    But finally my youth caught up with me. I hate them because I grew up in the area; finally their overwhelming righteousness overwhelmed me. They truly believe they should inherit the earth.

    The intriguing ones for me are Essendon’s eastern suburbs fans. Most of them have never been to the suburb of Essendon (let alone East Keilor and Airport West). They have nothing to whinge about, but they’ve made whingeing an art form. It’s just not fair that Essendon can’t win the premiership every other year, etc.

    As a Richmond fan, I truly hated Carlton with a passion when I was young. Now it’s less so. If you look at their history, they’re one of the more interesting clubs.

    I also hated Collingwood but I find myself hating them less. I think many footy fans feel the same. Collingwood fans hate us for it.

  38. Daff – Essendon changed for me when they left Windy Hill and won the Premiership in 1993. They used to have a wild raucous bunch of fans, mainly from the north-western suburbs, which was intimidating but quite good fun. The team in the early Sheedy years played with a similar rollicking spirit.

    The move to the G and then to Docklands transformed their supporter base into a refined group of theatregoers who applauded rather than barracked – very boring!

    The teenybopper element that was attracted by the pretty players like James Hird and Mark Mercuri added to the blandness.

    And yes, they do whinge.

    I can see why you don’t like them.

  39. Richard E. Jones says

    Well, Stainless, as PD can attest, my hatred of Hawthorn goes back way, way before 1989 even.
    I grew up in Geelong so not surprisingly supported the Pivotonians. Last year marked my 60th year of barracking for the Hoops.

    I detested the Hawks when they would win just a handful of matches in the then VFL. F’r instance in 1949 the year I first saw Geelong play Hawthorn finished last with 3 wins, 13 losses. Yet Colin Austen was 2nd to ‘Smokey’ Clegg in the ’49 Brownlow count that year.
    The next year I must have been delirious. The Hawks did NOT win a single game for a 0-18 return. That placed them five clear wins behind 1950’s tenth-placed Footscray and 11th-placed South Melbourne, both on 5-13 records.

    So why this long-standing hatred of the brown and gold, given extra impetus by the events of 1989 and 2008 ? It’s hard to pinpoint from such a distance now we’re into 2010, but I think a few objectionable supporters at school turned me off Hawthorn. Goodness knows why they talked up the Hawks — their boys never really bothered the scorers, so to speak. But I recall a fair bit of chest and tub-thumping from these fellows behind the shelter shed at lunchtimes, so that must have been the catalyst.

    And yes, Stainless, a few neighbours mentioned at street Xmas parties last month they were hoping the Aussie Test team would lose a Test or two this summer. Does this dislike of their own national cricket team stem from Punter’s own behaviour? He can be a really prickly character so maybe these neighbours of ours have become totally disillusioned with him and his boys.

    Can’t find the Saturday Age yarn you’re referring to, though. Maybe we got the early edition, as opposed to the City Extra, here in central Viccy. Haven’t seen Roeby Roebuck refer to that pervading feeling so far, altho’ the said technologically challenged Roeby mentions just about everything else !!

  40. Rod Davies says

    With regards to the sheer quality of those 2004 Preliminary Finals… Living in virtual “real footy” purgatory of Sydney and having to listen to the tripe of the average NRL supporter bagging AFL, these 2 games should be shown to those whom dare to open their minds and they will surely be converted. The AFL with their push into Greater Western Sydney could use these games as a promotional tool.

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