He’s alright, this [Geelong player*] *insert your preferred young’un



He’s alright, this kid Menzel.


In 2007 when the Cats finally won a flag, I was in London desperately searching for a pub that was showing the game at two in the morning. As the opening bounce drew closer I knew that we were going to win, and that I wasn’t going to see it. Eventually I settled for reading the commentary on the AFL website, which proved very enjoyable as the match progressed. The one line that sticks in my memory was, “He’s alright, this bloke Bartel. They oughta give him some kind of medal.” I didn’t even know who this Jimmy Bartel bloke was at this point (having been cut off from all things football in sunny old England for two years) but he’d just won the Brownlow and was running amok in the Final. The same line popped into my head several times on Saturday night, but it was Geelong’s young blokes, Menzel, Duncan, Vardy, and Taylor Hunt who were impressing.


Saturday is Dad’s 50th and so there are a bunch of us Sandgroper’s over for the weekend. A rare opportunity to get to the G from Perth and plenty of jokes are made about a “decent excuse” to come for the footy. Dad organises a little coaster bus for the drive from Ocean Grove and I take the opportunity to put a dent in a carton of beer pre-game and am in good spirits upon arrival. My spirits continue to rise when Menzel fires up early for the Cats. The young bloke was fantastic in the first quarter. He kicked the first of the game, slotted another from 50, and then very nearly took an amazing one-handed grab going back with the flight of the ball. He’s alright, this kid Menzel. And he looks like he may be a legitimate replacement for Cam Mooney in the next few years. The Saints don’t look too bad in the first either. Armitage and Ray kick two each and Schneider would have had one if not for his own runner infringing the mark. When Jimmy Bartel tries to break the Jpod’s hip with his face and comes off heavily concussed, things look like they might get ugly for Geelong. We go into the first break three points down and having used our sub.


Vardy wins the first tap but Saints get the clearance. It bounces back from half back and Menzel sells a nice little dummy, waltzes through traffic and belts one through from the centre square! Any doubts I had are fast disappearing. St Kilda are in for a bad night. The ball seems to want to stay around the Cats half forward line and the umpiring seems bizarre from the top tier of the MCG, every call seems to go against the Saints but the reasons why are unclear until I get home to watch the replay and the commentator’s make sense of it all for me. Stokes gets a goal in his hundredth game. At the other end Riewoldt can’t quite hang on to his diving mark, which bounces out of his hands and perfectly into Taylor’s who clears. The ball works forward to Ling and the skipper makes sure of it to put us 15 in front. The Jpod’s hip is causing problems for any Cat foolish enough to enter a marking contest that James decides to fly for. He cleans up Vardy but the young bloke seems alright. Jpod follows up with a snap goal and the Saints are in a world of trouble. They’ve kicked one point to four goals in ten minutes of footy and Riewoldt just doesn’t seem to be able to hold onto the ball. Nor do Milne and Schneider seem able to crumb any goals. Geelong’s back line, ever cool under pressure, tidy up everything the Saints throw at them. Stokes and Kossie go at it, the replay revealing that the little man has earned himself a week off and that Koschitzke had every right to belt him. When Varcoe goes for a run, manages to just slip a Brett Peake tackle, then bounce the ball only to have it bounce behind him and still manage to get hold of it and get off a hand pass that sets up a Ling/Chapman combination goal, it’s pretty clear it’s just not St Kilda’s night.


Just before half time Koschitzke gives Mitch Duncan a little reminder of just how tough you have to be to play this game. Duncan has a little trouble standing up for a few minutes, worrying the Geelong fans that we might lose another player to the concussion rule. Duncan proves his toughness and reappears at the beginning of the second half. He’s alright, this kid Duncan. The perspective you get at the game reveals the effect of the forward press on the game, with 32 men in one half of the ground at all times. Which end of the ground changes frequently and this mob of players follow the ball back and forth, almost resembling a mob of kids on the school oval at lunch time. Really, really well paid school kids. Geelong camp the ball inside their 50 for a few minutes but St Kilda manage to hold them off. Finally Kossie pegs one back to cut the margin to 3 goals. Gamble takes a screamer and makes it 2 goals. This is as close as the Saints will get. The umpires are no help to them. Several marks, including one 15 out to Riewoldt are not called and Scarlett gets away with an in the back or three. Pod’s gets a free kick for holding onto Gwilt’s jumper. I’m not sure about this playing for frees. It’s not something I want to see become a part of Geelong’s game. Still can’t tell what they’re calling or why from the top tier so eventually we give up trying to make sense of it. Right on three quarter time there’s a scrap on the far wing. Ottens, Armitage, Johnson, Baker, Pods, Gwilt, Reiwoldt. Everyone gets stuck in, fired up, the last quarter could be a cracker!


Things kick off like it’s a new game. The Saints got a sniff in the third and they want it bad. Peake gets the first goal but the Cats make them work for everything. Tom Lonergan backs into a pack with the flight. Fearless even if he had both his kidneys. Vardy rucks well all round the ground. He marks and goals to close the Saints out of the game. Chappy and Ottens finish the job, the big man crumbing and snapping like he thinks he’s  Taylor Hunt is in everything. The highlight of his game comes when he turns a smother of Peake’s kick into a gather, gets it off to Menzel who sets up the Jpod with a shot after the siren for good measure. He’s alright, this kid Hunt. The future of Geelong looks good with these young kids coming through. They’re matching it with premiership players and Grand Finalist’s and they’re holding their own. The bus trip home is full of speculation of the match review panel, trades and coaching changes at the end of the season. I really don’t know how I get through the off season but for now I’m loving it and the Cats are killing it!


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