How could the Cats lose at home?

27th August 2011

Geelong v’s Sydney

Skilled Stadium – 2.10 pm

Matthew Clark


“What did I do wrong??”

“What do you mean??”

“Well, we never lose at Geelong.  Someone must have done something wrong.  Maybe it was me!!”

Could it be that us turning up to the game 3 minutes late unsettled the Cats?  Or maybe the fact that I left Nato at home in Ballarat to play in his little league Final?  On the other hand, should the local paper take some blame for producing a commemorative poster to celebrate the 30th home win that never actually happened!

Such are the thought processes that ensue after our first loss at the Kardinia Park fortress since Round 21, 2007.  That’s right; 4 years to the round since the Cats last dropped a game here.  I was there for that one too, but the journey from then to now has been an amazingly happy and satisfying one.

As fans, we’d really like to think that we can influence the outcome of games.  Today, I’ve seen people cheer encouragement, hurl abuse, clap, chant and pump fists; all in an attempt to influence the play and drag the Geelong team out of their sluggishness and general inferiority in their hunger for the contest.  In reality, our best efforts in the stands pale into insignificance when compared to what the players can actually control on the ground.

So, how and why could the Cats have such a shock loss?

There will be some (certainly there were plenty of these sitting within earshot this afternoon) who gladly blame the umpiring.  And, while there were some bemusing decisions that helped Sydney to some easy goals, I don’t think we could totally lean on this for the loss.

Maybe it was the Cats ordinary kicking at goal in the first half.  Now we’re getting closer the an accurate reason.  They had their chances; three misses from less than 30 metres out, almost directly in front.  Normally, the Cats get away with such mistakes at home, but today they will have to count the cost.  Instead of trailing at half time, we could have been a couple of goals in front and on the way to the magical 30 home wins in a row.

But, in the end, I reckon that Geelong lost because Sydney were just too good.  Sitting in the Hickey stand this afternoon with 99% of the crowd being pro-Cat, you don’t hear much praise for the opposition.  However, if you bring some objectivity into view, the Swans did everything right to win the game today.

The red and white guys had a gameplan, they trusted their gameplan and they stuck to their gameplan.  They were committed to forcing stoppages and applying tackling pressure to the opposition in an almost maniacal nature from the first few minutes to the last few minutes.  Even when they were 5 goals up with 5 minutes to go, they continued to tackle like madmen.  There would be no stopping them until the final siren rang.

Throw in a dominant display in the ruck from Mumford (oooh, it hurts to face the fact that we couldn’t find a way to keep him) and the athletic brilliance of Goodes (who doesn’t usually play that well in Geelong) and Sydney were well on the way.

Given the history of this footy club and it’s reputation for strength of character, the urgency of a positive result to secure a finals position and possibly a home final also played a factor.  And, finally the commitment to their captain and mate, Jarred McVeigh, with the sad passing of his baby daughter, pushed the team from Sydney to greater heights and heroics.

So, in the end, no excuses, no blame game, no pointing fingers.  In the end, Sydney were the better team on the day and can travel home very satisfied with the 4 points safely tucked away in their luggage.



About Matt Clark

Works in and runs a Physio practice in Ballarat - MCPhysio. Cricketer for over 20 years for Mt.Clear cricket club. Cats fanatic, fan and member. Guitar beginner.


  1. John Butler says

    Thanks Matt. A very sporting summation from you.

    A blip for the Cats? Or should something more be interpreted?

  2. Matt would you say they were ‘playing within themselves?’ They have second spot sewn up, a big match aginst the Pies next week, no need to bust a gut today. There are Q marks re Podsiadly, and Hawkins. The JPod usually turns it on at Kardinia Park, bit not this week. What do you read into it? Hawkins is in his 5th season;when do you go from promising, to actually delivering ? Over the years the second last round has produced its share of upsets . 2011 thus, is no different.


  3. Matthew – very fair match summary.
    Glen – “playing with themselves” sums it up more pithily.

  4. Good report Matt. Good form is winning form. I’m not a great believer in a ‘good’ loss, but maybe the Cats needed to get a physical belting after the last few weeks of byes.

    The last time we lost at KP was 2007 – just before the finals. And we know what happened that year!

  5. A favourable draw has made it possible for Geelong to win a lot of games at K-Park. Out of the 30 matches from Port 07 to Sydney 11, the Cats have only played 6 matches against sides who were also in the top 8 at that time: Sydney 3, Bulldogs 1, North 1, Adelaide 1.

  6. Mark Doyle says

    This was a great game of footy and very enjoyable for supporters of both clubs. Sydney won because of greater motivation, especially the support for their team mate Jarrad McVeigh and the tragic loss of his young child. This was a great humanitarian story! I was proud of Cats supporters in the Social Club for their embracing this theme of the game. This magnanimous support for Sydney was also evident in the Lord of the Isles Pub on Saturday night. Brownlow votes: 3 – Adam Goodes; 2 – Shane Mumford; and 1 – James Kelly.

  7. Playing with themselves Peter? I would have thought that a little crass considering the motivational solidarity behind the Swan’s performance.

    When WA lost the Gillette Cup (Old One Day Cricket Cup) the boys on the hill in Hobart loudly referred to the WA team as the ‘Hand Gropers’. I notice the old Hand Gropers got a bit of a scare up in BrizVagas last night.

    Can’t wait for their clash against Collywood in a few weeks. You do have one thing going for you I suppose. Magpies softened up by Cats the week before. They may even be Mooned.

  8. Clearisghted says

    Tony, you forget Geelong’s defeat of West Coast at KP in 2007 who were the reigning premiers and, at the time, undefeated and sat on top of the ladder.
    Your point of view reflects the popular and white-noised opinion that has the Cats not beating anyone much at their home ground.
    Take a close look at the fixture.
    Collingwood’s continued gifting of games played at the MCG resonates through their season. Along with the fact that out of 24 games, in 14 of them they play a team who has come off a six day break, played interstate the week before, or in some cases, both of the above.
    There are many hidden advantages in the fixture, but they apply to the ‘big’ clubs and have not contributed to the extraordinary record held by Geelong at KP.
    For a club, who were completely broke and facing extinction in the rationalised word of the AFL, their subsequent path will take some matching.
    Two VFL Premierships, two AFL premierships, finalists in seven of the last eight years, two Brownlow Medalists, one Liston Medalist, one Rising Star recipient, a record number of All Australian selections, and a record win record over the last 5 home and away seasons.
    All this without tanking, without a fat cheque book, without cheating on the salary cap or employing third party deals, without the salary compensations shown to some other-than-Victorian clubs and from a team who have travelled interstate more often, in that period, than any other Victorian club.
    A club that enjoys even a fraction of the GFC’s achievements, could consider themselves a success.
    But, according to you and those who think like you, this has come about due to 7 games per season at KP.

    All of my rant aside, it was a deserved win by Sydney. The game was played in the best of spirit and the Bloods played with courage and honour.

  9. Clearsighted, hats off to you for wildly redefining my comment to suit your rant; that must have taken some imagination.

    My list was clearly in context with Matt’s post, which was about Geelong’s “shock loss” to end their winning run at the “Kardinia Park fortress since Round 21, 2007.”

    My time-frame was clearly taken from that Port win to the Sydney win in round 21 2011, which were the bookends of Geelong’s unbeaten run at K-Park.

    The game against West Coast at K-Park in 2007 was in round 7, 14 matches before the Port Adelaide game and well outside the streak’s time-frame.

    Nor did I make any comment about the merits, or otherwise, of a Geelong’s 7 games at K-Park each year boosting their premiership chances.

  10. Clearsighted says

    Handy omissions, Tony.

  11. I’m with Tony on this – in recent years the AFL draw has gifted Geelong with far too many easybeat home games against inferior opponents. It had indeed become tedious week after week watching the minnows of the league smashed by 10, 15, 20 goals, and never getting to see the likes of Collingwood or Hawthorn at Kardinia Park. As true fans of our great game, Cats supporters have been ripped off for years, being forced to watch annihilations rather than genuine sporting contests.
    The Swans amply deserved their win on Saturday (although the umpiring was abysmal, it did not determine the result). Geelong was flat-footed, fumbling and at times faint-hearted. It has been suggested that perhaps the team was under instructions to avoid injury ahead of the finals, but I rather doubt that such an order would ever come from Chris “white line fever” Scott.
    The Cats have minimal experience under their belts of high pressure games this year, and (as against lowly Adelaide recently) they showed brittleness when deprived of time and space. The Swans closed the game down with great tackling and numbers at the ball. Longmire seems to have absorbed and amplified the Roos game plan Mumford dominated the many stoppages, enjoying his return to the old home ground. Ottens was slow and gave away too many wrestling free kicks. Even if the umpire was wrong, Brad should be experienced enough to adapt to the interpretations being applied. West is still wearing the “L” plates, but he needs to be coached to jump a little later at ball-ups, so that he and the ball occasionally meet. Goodes was everywhere and Geelong desperately lacked the likes of a G.Ablett Jr. to step in and match his brilliance and authority. As it was, the Chapmans and Varcoes stood back and watched, waiting for a team-mate to go in and get the leather for them. Selwood tried hard, and, as usual, nearly had his head removed on several occasions. Kelly, Bartel and Ling got a lot of the ball, but banged it forward haphazardly, into the waiting arms of Swan defenders. Geelong had no forward structure – no-one was leading into space. There were few spaces available. Hawkins was always in the wrong place, and on the few occasions when he and the ball crossed paths it was but a fleeting exchange, like meeting an old teacher in the street – a nod and a quick, embarrassed handshake perhaps, but definiely no lingering. J-Pod ran around a lot, but none of his team-mates were ever looking his way, Stokes missed a few sitters early, then went and hid on a flank, out of harm’s way for the rest of the game. I’m not sure Johnson was even on the ground, but the Football Record had his name printed on the team sheet. The defenders, Scarlett, Enright and co. were stolid but the zone in the backline was wide open, whenever nippy Swans surged forward, suggesting that their Cat minders further up the ground were caught napping, or maybe a tad lazy after their relaxing week off.
    Geelong seemed to be in cruise mode all afternoon and did not even look like finals contenders. They will need a change of attitude and big performances from incomers Mooney, Milburn and Corey to turn this form around, such that they can beat Collingwood at the ‘G next week and, more importantly, Hawthorn the week after.
    As in the Cats-Swans game, the Magpies may not be too fussed about the result of a mere home and away game of little consequence, with just bragging rights at stake. As a media-hyped precursor to the finals series, it may well prove a fizzer, with the key objective for both teams being to avoid injuries and/or reports. Which raises a question for almanackers to ponder: like bottom teams vying for draft picks, do top teams sometimes also “tank” for strategic reasons?
    I look forward to the Cats clash with our other feathered nemesis – hopefully the desperation will return, with added motivation on the line, particularly from those veteran Cats contemplating hanging the boots up for the last time. That game is 100% guaranteed to be fair dinkum.

  12. Not sure I follow this argument. Seems that on the one hand, Geelong’s record at KP is ‘over-rated’ because it only gets to play crap teams there that couldn’t win on their own back lawn. But at the same time, Geelong’s enhanced home ground advantage is somehow unfair on the rest of the competition.

    Seem to remember back in the mid 70s there was this absolutely dire band all over Countdown, called Supernaut. Their best known hit has suddenly wedged itself in my brain…..

  13. Richard Naco says

    Perfect summary, Bert.

    Cam Mooney gave a wonderful, insightful & hugely entertaining interview in the ABC radio commentary box at about the time that the VFL side stormed back from nowhere to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but everything went downhill basically from there.

    The hungrier and far more committed team deservedly won. Geelong looked soft & insipid, and appeared to almost be simply waiting for beloved KP to win the game for them. The Ablettiser getting pie well & truly smeared across its face basically summed up the attitude of far too many of us, on field & off.

    Sydney’s excellent performance was that of a team shaping up to become serious spoilers in September, and of a team that can still see the faint flickering light of an amazing triumph. Geelong’s, by contrast, was of a team that has been blinded by its own hype to the point of complacent softness, where it is not inconceivable that this once promising season could finish with four straight defeats.

    Hawthorn certainly fancy their chances in a fortnight’s time, and next week now becomes a gut check of the highest order for the hoops.

  14. Clearsighted says

    Well said Rick N.
    I gather you are referring to the horrid song, “I Like It Both Ways”?
    A great analogy of “…popular and white-noised opinion…”

  15. To the doomsdayers, Collingwood apparently found Geelong’s achilles heel in Round 8, 2008. That night they won by 80-odd points and the Cats were woeful. All the papers and critics quite correctly pointed out that the way to beat the Cats was to follow Collingwood’s lead.

    74 wins in the 87 games they have played since seems to suggest otherwise. As far as the home ground advantage goes, are the people who say its unfair going to honestly argue that those ‘crap’ teams that play at KP could have won if the games were played elsewhere?

    If anything, the Cats are disadvantaged by the draw because they never get to have a crack at the beeter sides on their own home ground. Geelong’s “home” games against the top sides are almost always at the home ground of its opponent (MCG or Etihad). ANd by the way, Geelong has the best winning percentage of ALL teams at Etihad. Maybe they should not allow the cats to play there either.

    You don’t finish Top 2 on the ladder by winning 7 home games.

  16. re Rick N’s comment and reference to Supernaut’s song, “I Like It Both Ways”. It would seem their second hit (albeit, not a Number 1), “Too Hot To Touch” could as easily summarise Cat’s fans response to anyone who might ponder philosophically or even academically whether Kardinia Park is of any advantage to the Cats in what is already an (un)even competition.


  17. Peter Flynn says

    Geelong’s winning percentage away from KP since the start of 2007 has been quite satisfactory.

  18. Dear Mr Flynn

    Can you inform the less matheamtically inclinded what the Cats winning percentage is at home in the year of the lord, 2011?


  19. Surely the Cats wanted to leave the winning run at 29 as a tribute to a former champ.

    Not that the Geelong Advertiser was onto it….

Leave a Comment