General Footy Writing: Get some gusto, Cats

By Helen Dunne

I grew up in Geelong with parents who moved to Victoria from interstate in the 1960s. Naturally, I supported my home-town team, the Cats.
Having parents with no allegiance to a VFL team also meant that football was not eaten and breathed in our house. However, living only 200 metres from Kardinia Park meant that it was hard not to get excited when Geelong played at home and you could hear the crowd roar when the Cats were winning.
So inevitably two eyes grew into one, and blue and white blood ran through my veins. But unlike other fanatical supporters I class myself a passive, one-eyed supporter and I reckon it’s due to my upbringing.
Being a subjective, one-eyed supporter you notice things that other supporters don’t. Like during the ’90s when people would get excited about Geelong doing well early in the season.
Not me.
I knew the Cats needed a few early losses to get their act together before going on to play in the finals. History decrees that when Geelong have done well early in the season they’ve bombed out later. And when they’ve had a slow start they’ve made it to the finals or even Grand Finals.
We all know this Geelong side is different from previous teams — we have watched them come into their own with exceptional coaching and talent.
As a passive supporter there are observations I’ve made over the past couple of years which concern me and there are two offenders, the team and the supporters. That observation is GUSTO, or lack thereof.
I feel partly to blame for last year’s Grand Final loss for not publicly mentioning it at this time last year. I had a strange feeling and now I know why.
Last year I mentioned to my husband, and whoever else who would listen, that I was not happy about the lack of GUSTO with which our beloved footballers sang the song with after a win. Finally,  someone else noticed the same and mentioned it on radio talkback after the Geelong  v Port Adelaide match.
And as if that’s not enough.
Last year I noticed a degree of complacency amongst the supporters such as leaving the winning game early in order to beat the traffic. I would drive through the streets of Geelong after a game not knowing who won the match because of the lack of scarf-waving.
Please don’t get upset with me but it appears Cats supporters have stopped getting excited about winning. They’re blasé.
It’s the old saying: familiarity breeds contempt.
Now I can feel another Grand Final in my bones and I have one thing to say to the team, and more importantly, the supporters: GSG.
Get Some Gusto.
We need it in 2009.


  1. Helen – CAM (couldn’t agree more). The side is playing without gusto, winning without gusto and singing the song without gusto. Let’s hope a few losses sting their pride and they get it back, but Saturday’s performance was ominously bad. Our aging players can seemingly no longer get up for the next week – trouble. Also, the first sign of a player on his last (football) legs is when he starts losing his feet – note Tom Harley on Saturday night. He fell over more than autumn leaf Lloyd!

  2. pauldaffey says


    Very true about ageing players losing their feet. Good observation.

    What would they do in Flashdance?

  3. johnharms says


    Fantastic piece. I think you should go straight to Frank Costa’s office and demand he get Brian Cook to institue a bring-back-the-scarf-waving campaign.

    I love your analysis, and I reckon their might be someting in it. Your portrait fits me.

    I’m obviously in the market for half a pound of gusto.

    However, I also keep in mind that they are a ripper footy side who just have to get the spark back.


  4. Helen, As another Cats fan I must admit the needle on my own gusto meter barely flickered while watching the game on Saturday night. Maybe we need a loss or two to reignite the passion. To be fair though I couldn’t complain about the effort against the Saints last week. It was first class. Plenty of gusto.

    However I’ve a bit disappointed this year that some Geelong players (not many) seem a bit comfortable with themselves. I’ve also hated the aversion our forwards seem to have towards taking set shots at goal. Especially when they try to play on and muck it up hopelessly.

    Still, as Malcolm Blight said years ago you learn a lot more from a loss than from a win. Perhaps engineering a couple of losses is all part of a brilliant master plan to secure this year’s flag.

    Here’s hoping.

  5. Josh Barnstable says

    Round 16.
    Skilled Stadium
    Geelong vs. Melbourne
    Geelong on a massive two game losing streak, Melbourne on a two game winning streak.
    I know who i’m tipping!

  6. johnharms says


    You should use that line on radio on Friday. very funny.


  7. Clarry A says

    Didnt know Gusto wasnt playing. I thought Ottens and Stevie J were the big outs. Mind you , I think Gusto might be more important on Grand Final ,than those 2 last year Grand Final failures.

  8. Ottens and Steve Johnson are certainly 2 massive outs. Mind you, there’s also Ablett, Scarlett, Milburn, Ling, Kelly, Mackie and Varcoe. All of whom were missing Saturday night.

    Clarry, I’d be really loathe to call either Steve Johnson or Brad Ottens “Grand Final failures” based on last year. Johnson had 34 possessions – more than anyone else on the ground except Ablett. Ottens had 22 hitouts (more than anyone on either side), and 12 possessions. Which happened to be more than Kelly, Varcoe, Stokes and Blake could accumulate. (The last 3 I would definitely call Grand Final failures by the way)

    Regarding the lack of gusto, I really don’t care how passionately they sing the song, it’s irrelevant. The performances on the field are what matter. And we have been inconsistent and patchy all season. We’ve let Hawthorn, Essendon and Port Adelaide get a measure of respect late in games after having them by the throat. We’ve limped to victories over Richmond, Melbourne, West Coast and Fremantle where we should have won easily. The problems have been there a lot longer than the last 2 weeks. Gamble has shown nothing this year, Stokes has gone backwards, Blake needs to improve quickly or Mumford will overtake him (if he hasn’t already). Thompson seems to be obsessed with turning Bartel into Luke Hodge. He plays his best football in the middle, not off a half back flank or wing.

    What’s making it worse is a lot of fans are defending our poor form with the theory that “players need to be fresh for the Grand Final”. Who says we’ll even be there? On current form, St.Kilda, Bulldogs, Collingwood and Adelaide are all playing better and certainly more consistent football.

    What Geelong needs to do is regain their hunger and ruthlessness. Starting with Melbourne this Saturday. Field our strongest possible team, and hopefully smack them by 20 goals. No resting players. No easing up. And absolutely no mercy.

  9. Peter Flynn says

    The needle on the Gustometer went off the scale this arvo.

  10. Hey Peter,

    Mine Too I must say I was really proud to be a Geelong Supporter last Saturday, Particularly sitting next to Hawks supporter Clarry A. 5 Minutes into the 4th quarter there was still a faint hope that the Cats could take us home – and they did, with the Gusto that you would expect from a champion side.

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