Geelong Poetry Trumps Bomber Frenzy

“What’s wrong Dad?” my young son Liam asked me.

I must have looked somewhat anxious and disturbed.

“Nothing really” I said “The Bombers have made a comeback and they only trail by 5 points.”

“That’s terrible” he said, looking decidedly anxious and disturbed.

We were at the State Netball Centre watching the Victorian Gymnastics Championships. I had the trusty radio plugged in my ear as I watched the gymnasts going about their work on the floor below. They really are extraordinary athletes.

Every time the Cats kicked a goal I would nudge Liam, who would turn to me, and I would simply say “Another one” and smile. This happened quite a bit early in the game. Then my nudges stopped. My facial expression must have changed. The Bombers were charging. Liam asked his question.

It seemed that Hurley and Davey were everywhere; especially Hurley. He’s got a very bright future I reckon. He bombed one home from outside 50 and was presenting as a big lead up target to great effect. The Cats sounded slow and the Bombers had taken over the corridor. They’re an exciting team when they get a roll on. But their style is exhausting. It requires almost a manic, hysterical attack on the ball and the opposition player. The Bombers in attacking mode really do resemble a bunch of blue arse flies, not that I’ve ever seen a blue arse fly, but judging by the description of its anatomy it must be rather distinctive.

They run and chip and handball and run again and chip and kick and handball………and eventually turn it over. You can do this for a while if you’re scoring, but if the scoring dries up so does the adventurous play and the turnovers start to burn on the scoreboard. The Bombers got badly singed; so badly in fact that the game was effectively over about 12 minutes into the third quarter.

However it was the sort of game that required a certain intensity of concentration when listening to it, just in case you missed an exciting Bombers’ burst, or just in case you missed a Cats’ surge.

The Cats surge like no other team I can remember. Nothing particularly obvious changes in the game but suddenly the Cats take ownership of the ball, they find targets with extraordinary skill, their handballs come off, their defense literally closes down the opposition, and their self belief reaches a new level. It’s hard to put a finger on one specific aspect that alters, but it all seems to come together. Whether it’s five goals in ten minutes or ten goals in thirty minutes, the game is ended with a brutal crunch. It’s extraordinary. It defies the theory of physics that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, because when the Cats unleash a burst there is often only stunned silence from their opponents; a reaction might come but it’s usually too late and too limp.

And it’s not just the “flat track bullies” thing. They do it against good sides too; Collingwood, the Swans, and the Hawks have all felt the sting this season.

I’ve heard Bomber Thompson say on numerous occasions that if he knew how to trigger these surges from his boys he would bottle it. But therein might lay the answer. When the Cats surge its football poetry, it’s free and brave and skilful and instinctive. None of these characteristics can be bottled. This is not “process” footy, this is human footy, its artistic and full of imperfections and brilliance. I love it.

The Bombers are trying to play this footy too and may be closer to getting it right than many think. They seem to lose their courage to keep flying when an opponent clips their wings a bit, but it may only take one game of a full four quarters of footy for them to believe that they can do it.

The Dees are also trying to play this way and for that reason when the Cats’ amazing run of performance and winning eventually comes to an end, as it inevitably will, I hope it is teams like the Bombers and the Demons which take up the mantle and continue to demolish the theory of “process” footy.

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. Dips,

    I saw a replay of the second half. I was engaged in fine food and social intercourse during the match.

    J Pod will be selected in the all Australian side this year. Just watch.

    Go Cats.

  2. Peter Flynn says


    I was hoping that you were involved in social food….


    I am similarly interested in the conditions/actions that lead to the “flicking of the switch”.

    Just a technical point:

    It’s Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

  3. Flynny – what was Newton’s second law?

  4. Peter Flynn says


    The technical definition is:

    The resultant force acting on a body is proportional to the (time) rate of change of momentum of the body.

    After some maths, the above definition is encapsulated by the formula F=ma where F is the resultant force, m is the mass of the body and a is its acceleration.

    If the resultant force acting on a body is non-zero, its velocity (and hence its momentum) changes.

    If the resultant force acting on a body is zero, the body is either at rest or moving at constant velocity (zero acceleration). In essence, this is Newton’s First Law.

  5. Good read. And agreed. Cats footy is all cream and thank goodness creamy footy overcomes stodgy footy or we’d be subjected to that defensive rubbish for the rest of our lives. Bombers and Demons definitely following the lead, and rumour has it that Germany got hold of some Cats games on DVD.

  6. johnharms says


    I was there. My first Cats game (live) for the year. Superb.

    Agree with your analysis. And so did the Bomber fans around me who always felt that the Cats were cruising and would have to lose the match to lose it – if you know what I mean.

    Essendon’s desperate need to clog up the Geel forward line meant they had nothing to go to coming out of defence. When they won the ball in the middle and had a traditional structure they looked good. Gumbleton, Hurley in the air – Jetta, Davey etc on the ground. The problem Knights faced was that to leave his players in a traditional structure would have given space to the Cats forwards and they;d have won by 20 goals – a la the Round 2? match last year or the year before.

    Will be writing something later this week.

    I see Martin Blake had Kelly bog. I agree. Varcoe was in and out, but brilliant while involved. Bartel also very good. But a real team performance – and a lot of improvement still possible.

  7. JTH – I reckon Jimmy Kelly could be a smokey for the brownlow – he’s had the best year of all our midfielders, which is where the medal will come from. How much on betfair at present?

    Flynny – thanks for the clarification.

  8. The Cats were awesome – clean hands, one touch footy. This is the way footy should be played. Lets just hope that the adventurous teams get the rewards rather than those that remain so process driven (St Kilda/Collingwood).

  9. Bombers now remind me of Cats circa 2003. I remember being at the Southport Sharks club watching them play at KP. We got stacks of the ball and went in hard but kept turning it over and slapped.

    A vivid memory is of Chappy with no pressure going for a short pass and dribbling it along the ground 15 metres and turning it over. So frustrating we just had to laugh. The tunnel seemed to get longer and darker that year given how much promise the kids showed in 2002.

    They stuck with the game plan though and once their skills gelled in early 2004, it was sublime.

    What a great ride its been.

  10. PS. No one mentioned Blakey, but he was terrific (again) and it may have been just coincidence but we seemed to lose momentum when he was off the ground.

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