Hallelujah, what a Season!

The Cats are my first (footy) love. And my second and third. But aside from parochialism and loyalty, I just love football. I love a good game. I love the skill and the passion and the determination and desperation. I’ve been blessed, after the 44 years of wandering in the wilderness to see the Cats enter the promised land not once, or twice but three times. And I mean see literally. I’ve been to the mountain top. I was there at the Temple, The G, in 07, 09 and 11.
Each time was a spiritual experience. Each time the Cats brought home the Holy Grail. Each time I gave thanks and moved a little closer to peace.

As such, while I want the Cats to keep winning, the desperate aching need has been replaced by a more philosophical and accepting calmness about Geelong, football and life in general. The days of darkness and foul mood that followed a loss have gone. And even the glorious euphoria of victory is not quite as over-whelming as it used to be, (except for round two and Hawthorn!). The Hawks continue to reap what they sowed by stealing the flag in 08 and each successive victory over the brown and gold is more sweet than the last.

I understand that footy success comes and goes. That the cycle of football life revolves and courtesy of the stone tablets we call the Draft and the Salary Cap, most footy teams will have their chance. Most teams will rise and fall in an on-going cycle of equalization and the lucky ones will get to stand triumphant on that final day.

I don’t think the Cats will win the 2012 flag. Mind you I didn’t think they’d win the 2011 flag either so I’m not dismissing the possibility but the best thing about the 2012 season is that no-one knows who’s going to win the flag and there are more “possibles” and contenders than any season in living memory.
The only sure thing is that no sooner shall a team be bestowed with the chalice of “Flag favourite” than said chalice will be found full of poison.
The best illustration of this is the mighty fall of the Blues. The Hawks too were brought crashing back to earth as soon as they were installed as favourites. That left the Bombers and the Eagles to share top spot and favouritism except it seems no-one told the Demons and Lions.

What a seriously good footy season this is becoming.

Footy is at its best when it’s unpredictable. This round, for the first time in AFL history, pitted the top nine teams on the ladder against the bottom nine, making tipping easy for once. Not!

Teams are losing games they “should win” and winning games they “should lose”. The extended winning streaks and ladder domination we’ve seen over the last five years appear at an end. My beloved Cats became the “winningest” team in history but are now looking human and vulnerable.
No team is unbeatable and almost every team looks capable of winning games. A month ago the heat was on Matthew Primus. Now Port are on a three game winning streak, having just knocked off a team who a month ago were not only named premiership favourites but were claiming it for themselves with their customary humility. Carlton’s problem was that when they thumped Collingwood they believed their own publicity. Essendon didn’t believe it, and nor did St Kilda or Adelaide a few weeks later. Adding insult to significant injury the Blues didn’t come to play against lowly Port and paid the price.
Then there’s Collingwood, who despite a shaky start, massive injuries and media/Malthouse pressure on their new coach seem unaffected and almost inconceivably are flying under the radar on a seven game streak, including a taste of revenge over the Cats in round 8. I didn’t want Collingwood to beat Adelaide last week but having seen the incredible football they played in the last quarter at Docklands last year when they came from 4 down and kicked 11 to win running away, I was not surprised they again finished too strong for the more fancied Crows.
Adelaide with a new coach of their own have been rolling along very nicely and courtesy of a very favourable draw will make the eight for sure, should lock in top 4 and really ought to give top 2 a decent shake.
The perennial Swans continue to successfully blend recycled players and youngsters and cannot be discounted as a finals chance.

Last week the Tigers signalled they were not to be taken lightly with a big win against Hawthorn. Richmond’s problem has always been inconsistency and backing up a win. Could they do it this week against the Saints who themselves were working up a head of steam? Friday night is footy’s biggest night and everyone was salivating at the thought of the Tigers v Saints.
The Tiger army is on the march and just the possibility of hearing their wonderful song is enough to sway the neutrals in their favour.
The game didn’t disappoint and I was jumping around the lounge room when the Tigers got up in a thriller.
Does it get any better than that?
Well, the standard of the game may not have been as high but the drama and excitement level was ramped up by a factor of 10 on Saturday night and I confess I shed a tear for Mark Neeld and Melbourne when they rolled high flying Essendon. The mixture of ecstasy and relief as the massive pressure valve on the Demons was released was joyous to behold.
Then Port knocked off the Blues.
Persuaded by the upset result trend, my sister sms’d that Dad had expressed the crazy thought that Brisbane might beat the Eagles the following day.
“Tell him he’s dreaming” I texted back.
But sure enough I was out of my chair again on Sunday arvo when Polkinghorne rolled out the barrel and the Lions clawed their way to victory over ladder leaders West Coast.
“Sweet dreams Pop” read my text after the final siren.

Just enough time to mention a couple of other highlights. Buddy Franklin finally delivered for The Cat’s Whiskers (my fantasy footy team) with 13 goals against the “hopless” Roos in Tassie and Gazza racked up a record 53 possessions as the only light coming out of the Suns.

What will happen next? Who knows? But let it continue as we salivate and celebrate a fabulous footy season!


  1. pamela sherpa says

    Like you Marcus I am enjoying the unpredictability of the season, the individual highlights and the spirited contests. And we still have half a season to go.

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