Half Way Cat Report: Pussies Postscript

Further to last week’s Half Way Cat Report post, in which I discussed desire, hungry elephants and handballs, and cautiously suggested we moggies could achieve more than mediocre success this year.


After Friday night’s wobbly against Western Bulldogs I’m now thinking mediocre failure is a more likely possibility. The elephant is hungry all right, and about to devour the dressing room. It was as disappointing a Cats game as I’ve seen in recent years, particularly in regard to its importance in the season’s scheme, and a post-bye history that needed rewriting. It was a match that reinforced perceptions about minds not right and internal authorities being oblivious to it.


Where were the positives against the Tiges we should’ve taken into the break? Baked away by Gold Coast balm? Should’ve holidayed in homely Hobart.


Don’t misread my drift, the Doggies were desire, desperation and dazzle personified, and deservedly delirious at delivering. Underdoggies with nothing to lose coming off a good, but ultimately unsuccessful effort, and a coach’s bake, were always going to be dangerous. We weren’t prepared, and we should’ve been.


Alliterations aside, we had a go and all, but if Taylor had kicked straight in the end, it would’ve been among footy’s most unjust victories.


Hapless, habitual handball (re-alliterating)


That our handball game reappeared was what galled and grumbled.


Not that there’s anything wrong with handball per se. The Bullies used it to great effect, which illustrates a point – it’s about appropriateness which, in turn, comes down to decision-making which, in turn, comes down to minds being right. It isn’t about going around in circles.


Throw in dashes of complacency and disrespect.


Handball worked a treat for us in 2007 to de-flood, but the opposition had already started to nullify it by 2009. Too much of anything will kill you in the end.


I thought we’d broken the habit this year. Silly me, silly handball, insanity definitions etc. Groundcat Day!


Scenario 1: player A handballs to player B who has an opponent bearing down, maybe player A handballs to player B’s feet to add a degree of difficulty. Player B is tackled and dispossessed.


Scenario 2: player A is about to kick the ball forward, but half-way through kicking motion he props in favour of a sideways, or backwards handpass to player B with an opponent bearing down, perhaps handballing it to the ground, or overhead, to add degree of difficulty. Player B is tackled and dispossessed.


Variations to the above: for example, sometimes there’s no pressure and the gaggle of midfielders enjoy a happy handball exchange before one of them, by now under pressure, decides to bomb the ball to a crowded forward line (with teammates worn out from unhonoured leads, or who have been confused into inaction).


At best it gives forwards little chance, at worst the ball is turned over and the opposition goal. And when it falls down badly we don’t seem to be able to change course mid-game.


You can get away with it when dominating midfield contests, but it’s never going to succeed at the Big Dance so why bother? I understand that it’s also about tactics, strategies and structures (and human nature), but no team ever finessed its way to glory. Trying to win easy eventually makes it harder.


Of course, it’s not always just the handball – it’s also the sideways and backwards kicks – general lack of urgency, playing safe, keeping possession.


I reiterate, handballing has a place, but ‘you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to bomb away, know when to pass’. With apologies to country music fans and astute card sharps everywhere.


Presser Platitudes


I suggested Chris Scott doesn’t defend the players publically as much as he could. I meant from external attacks. There are times that, playing-wise, he lets them off the hook.


This post-match press conference was along the lines of “we’ll review the game, try to see where we went wrong etc.” Chris, maaaate, it’s staring you in the face – no need to watch a replay. Look between the ears. All ears?


In fairness, he did make reference to decision-making and that we’ll keep working to be better, but reasons for our tendency to be absent in important matches are still not forthcoming.


Silver linings


Quinton Narkle was definitely that – a blond silver lining.


Bad habits aren’t easy to beat, as any smoker will know, so perhaps Friday night was just a relapse along the road to rehabilitation.


Pennies can also drop at any time – hope remains we can turn it on at the pointy end should we be in contention.




Thursday night against Sydney will be Defining.


A backs-to-the-wall win will mean little if unaccompanied by Damascus.


A loss and it will be a feeding frenzy in the change room.


About Paul Spinks

I have had writing published and performed in various mediums, though not always with the luxury of a deadline. Below are links to some pieces published beyond this great site. https://newmatilda.com/2017/07/30/its-time-for-our-baby-democracy-to-walk/ https://meanjin.com.au/blog/the-elephant-in-the-chamber/ https://overland.org.au/2017/11/australias-workplace-laws-a-narrative-tragedy/ https://newmatilda.com/2019/05/16/the-green-blind-spot-on-australias-expanding-population/ https://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/is-ashleigh-barty-the-saviour-australian-tennis-has-been-waiting-for-20200108-p53prl.html https://spinksytravelworld.com/pirate-of-padstow/ https://overland.org.au/2020/10/the-slow-death-of-a-public-institution/ https://overland.org.au/previous-issues/false-documents/fiction-paul-spinks/


  1. Bob Morrow says

    Totally agree, I have seen a Geelong player hand ball to a team mate with an opposition player on the left , one on the right & 1 behind him.

  2. Paul Spinks says

    I don’t get it, Bob, but keep assuming wiser heads than I are aware of what’s happening and have a grand plan.

  3. Peter warrington says

    those handballing egregities sound Richmond 2016. Bachar Houli was a redhot one

    somewhere somebody got us handballing forward.

    the rest is history

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