Almanac Footy: It’s Time, Scotty!





It’s Time, Scotty!


Since taking over the senior coaching position at Geelong from Mark Thompson in 2010, Chris Scott has been one of the most dominant coaches of the last decade in the AFL. Scott is the fourth longest-tenured coach (10 years) behind Alistair Clarkson (16 years), Damien Hardwick (11 years), and John Longmire (10 years – he got the position just before Scott). However, these coaches have something in common winning finals consistently and winning premierships. Scott’s record in the home and away competition is impressive, winning a total of 166 games out of 231 with two draws (72.29%). This is the highest winning percentage of any coach that has been in the position for 100 or more games.


The translation to finals success hasn’t happened for Scott. He has nine wins and thirteen losses from twenty-two finals (40.91%), so the question is: why doesn’t Chris Scott have a better record in finals? Finals are a different game; intensity is raised, teams have more time to study your game style, and umpires don’t give as many free kicks.


However, in my opinion, the most glaring reason is that once plan A doesn’t work, Scott does not have a plan B and is not sure of what adjustments to be made. Here are three examples of finals games throughout his time where this has occurred.


2012 Elimination Final Against Fremantle


Fremantle used Geelong’s style of quick ball movement and spread to expose the older players who found it challenging to cover the ground. Using fierce pressure to force turnovers helped with moving the ball quickly into the forward 50 to isolate the key defenders. Fremantle looked fiercer around the ball, dominating clearances and stoppage work. Dockers Matthew Pavlich outplayed the Cats in the first quarter kicking three goals with no “double or triple” teams, just switching men and hoping for the best.


Fremantle slowed Geelong’s ball movement from the start, setting up well behind the ball, knowing that Geelong’s route to scoring was a long kick to either Hawkins or Podsiadly. More of the same in the 2nd quarter from Fremantle, and the game was over. The lack of adjustments from Scott in the first half led to this being a dominant win by Fremantle. Geelong rallied late to make the scoreline respectful, but everybody watching the game knew it was over, and Chris Scott’s Geelong team had been outsmarted and outplayed.



2016 Preliminary Final against Sydney


Like the Elimination Final, Sydney “smashed” Geelong around the ball, putting overwhelming pressure on the Cats. However, Sydney was aware Geelong wanted to possess the ball with a predictable long kick into Hawkins, where Sydney could use “a third man” to come across and spoil or take a mark.


Sydney identified that Geelong couldn’t score without Hawkins dominating the forward line. Defensively the Cats looked lethargic, expecting Sydney to play through Franklin all the time, who was up the ground acting as a decoy. This helped isolate the defenders for one-on-one opportunities.


Furthermore, not knowing that the Sydney smaller players could dominate games (mainly Parker and McGlynn), they did that evening. Geelong looked confused and out of sorts as to Sydney’s game style and plan. Geelong had no adjustments to counter what Sydney did. Essentially led to the game being over by quarter time.



2017 Qualifying Final against Richmond.


Like the other two games, extreme pressure on the Cats, forcing them to panic, accounted for rushed decisions across the ground. The Tigers fastball movement isolated the “lost” Geelong’s defenders. Richmond anticipated where the ball was going before Geelong did. (Blake Caracella, a former assistant coach from Geelong, helped Richmond’s efforts.)


Efficiently set up behind the ball to slow the ball movement to ensure Geelong could not escape the defensive 50. Richmond was fully aware that Geelong wanted to possess, chip the ball, and take the ball long “down the line” as the preferred option. Once Richmond took this option away, Scott had no counter.


If Richmond had not kicked so poorly, this game would have been over earlier than it was. Not focussing on Richmond’s best player (Dustin Martin) did not help, he did whatever he felt like in the forward half of the ground, and the Cats could not stop him. Although no other team was stopping “Dusty” in 2017, putting a tag on him would have been nice!



In recent years, Scott has used the home and away season to blend in different play styles of slow ball movement mixed with fast ball movement, making Geelong’s game style more unpredictable. One costly mistake was in the 2019 qualifying final against Collingwood. Dropping Stanley because of weather conditions and going up against a great ruckman like Grundy was fraught with danger. Grundy ended up dominating the game.


Geelong shut out West Coast in the Semi-Final the week after, blending in a mixture of unpredictable movement with high octane pressure to neutralise the reigning premiers. After a solid first half from the Cats, one of the costly mistakes in the preliminary final against the Tigers was keeping Dangerfield down forward too long.


Richmond came out from the halftime break full of fire and, in the third quarter, smashed Geelong around the ball. Dangerfield could have made a big difference, and I can only assume that looking back, Scott may feel the same way. In the 2020 Qualifying Final against Port Adelaide, if Hawkins hadn’t kicked zero goals five behinds, Geelong would have won, which is out of Scott’s control.


However, it is not all bad for Scott, who coached two fantastic finals against Collingwood and Brisbane, executing a tremendous game plan to “shut out” both teams. For example, Scott used Daniel Rich’s ability to get up the ground to attack from halfback against him, putting Gary Ablett on him. This forced Rich to be accountable, which is not his game style and made him second guess. As a result, Ablett played a fantastic game.


Sometimes teams are just too good on the day, and in the Grand Final, with Dustin on fire, Richmond was the better team who played the big moments better than the Cats.


Barring any significant injuries, Geelong looks poised this year to make another deep finals run. Bringing in veteran players like Smith and Higgins to an older core group of players has assisted; however, this means Geelong’s “window” has one maybe two years to win a premiership.


In the last two years, Scott has shown the ability to adjust his initial game plan, which is the sign of a coach who may want to improve his finals coaching record. 2021 could be the best chance for Scott to prove his doubters wrong!



Read more from Chris Mangos HERE.



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  1. Thoughtful analysis Chris. Your Cats have stayed up as contenders far longer than any other club. Hawthorn, Sydney, Collingwood, Bulldogs and my Eagles have all ebbed and flowed over the last 15 years while the Cats have always been there or thereabouts. Big credit to recruiting, club management and the resilience of players like Selwood, Hawkins and Duncan. Age shall not weary them.
    The 2007-11 Cats were loveable to the outside observer, playing fast and attractive football. I take a more jaundiced view now. Not sure if that is familiarity, jealousy or the more conservative game style. Bit of each I suspect. Makes Chris Scott as loveable as the CEO of Westpac or NAB. Would love to own shares in their success but not invite them around for dinner.
    Cats are looking ominous this year. Cameron is a real recruiting coup. Will those hamstrings hold up? Will Rhys or Rats flatter to deceive in ruck this year? Will Blicavs play on the wing when he should ruck? Or ruck when he is needed in defence? Who will the Cats run second to this year?
    I don’t care so long as my Eagles never have to go to Kardinia Park again in my lifetime.

  2. Thanks Chris.

    I think Geelong fans are caught between loyalty to the coach and the club as supporters, and reasonable critical analysis. I think the frustration is in how often this has happened – in the opening minutes of numerous big finals. Or, if the Cats start well, and opponents are forced to respond, not responding to the response. The examples you bring are classics.

    I would love to see more Malcolm Blight and less Ross Lyon in the approach.

    I relate to PB’s shares-dinner analogy. That’s on the basis of the Scott-speak of press conferences and AFL360 (where he could explain, well, actually rationalise, his decisions and actions.)

    In some circles Chris Scott is known as Chess Scott.

    I think that reflects a desire to let the players play. It’s interesting that sometimes they do (v Port).

    It will be interesting to see the approach v Richmond today -although weather and ground conditions may play a part.

  3. chris_mangos says

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for the comment. I couldn’t agree more; looking at the big picture, Scott has done a remarkable job. Your CEO analogy couldn’t be more accurate. However, I agree with John he needs to be a little more of a risk-taker in the big games than playing safe. Playing safe has made his plan very predictable to break down.

  4. Thanks for this Chris. In many respects I have great admiration for Chris Scott – he is a wonderful communicator, a clear speaker, a clear thinker, a good “manager”, and gives the club a steely and tough perception which is good on game day.

    And here comes the but – as J Harms articulates above, we, the supporters, wonder if he is a great learner? He is a bit too much the process and not enough the footballer. His record is outstanding. His coaching is sound in an accounting sort of way, but the lack of imagination has brought us undone on many occasions. Lesson learned? Maybe not.

    I love my Cats. I admire their incredible ability to come up year after year and be competitive, but we can also be critical, I think, where we see criticism required. If the Cats win a flag C. Scott can rightfully feel justified. But we might also wonder how many got away.

    And while I’m at it, why can’t we recruit a ruckman?

  5. Football Analyst says

    Until Geelong tackle as well as the likes of Richmond at their peak and until Geelong get consistent centre clearances after a goal is kicked against the top teams, they will not win another flag in the near future. Of course, a top ruckman is needed as well against the top teams.

    As good as Jeremy Cameron is, he is not worth three top 20 draft picks.

    What have Geelong done to address their Grand Final loss to Richmond last year? Instead of topping up with quality midfielders, after the loss of Tim Kelly, they recruit Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith. Sure, they are good players but they don’t fill Geelongs needs. Geelong have many players like them.

    Chris Scott is a great coach, as he has done well with the players at his disposal, but he doesn’t have the matchwinners of the likes of Chapman and Steve Johnson, even Jimmy Bartel, who were instrumental in Geelong winning flags in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Even Gary Ablett Jr at his peak.

    Jeremy Cameron is a matchwinner but can be held by a top backman, likewise Tom Hawkins and Gary Rohan. I know genuine matchwinners are hard to find but Dustin Martin was one of those. You can win a flag by being very even like the Western Bulldogs of 2016 and Sydney of 2005. Geelong are even but to me, they are not tough enough. I’m not suggesting they play unsociable football like Hawthorn did, especially in 2008. Talent alone brought Geelong 3 flags from 2007 to 2011.

    Yes, a top ruckman like Brad Ottens would have helped. Dangerfield is a matchwinner but went missing in the Grand Final last year. I know he was injured.

    Depending where the Grand Final is played this year, I think that either Brisbane, Port Adelaide or the Western Bulldogs will win the flag this year because they have the greatest midfield depth. I don’t think Melbourne will win the flag this year because I don’t think they are mentally tough enough.

    Only time will tell.

  6. chris_mangos says

    Hi Football analyst,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to compare those Geelong premiership teams to now; those teams were so dominant and more talented across the ground (look at the 2007 All-Australian team). The Dangerfield piece is key; let’s see if he can play his best footy at the end of the year in the big games. I would add Melbourne instead of Port Adelaide; if Port could beat a team inside the top 8, there would be a better argument. Brisbane looks really flat trying to work out their forward structure without Eric Hipwood, but I believe they will work it out before finals. Really interesting to see who will stand on top at the end.

  7. Football Analyst says

    Thanks for your feedback Chris.

    Yes I agree it’s hard to compare Geelong with the brilliant Geelong teans of 2007, 2009 and 2011, who had brilliant matchwinners.

    However, I still stand by my comment that lack of pressure with their tackling compared to the top teams will get Geelong in the end, as well as the lack of a top class ruckman compared to Gawn, English, Lycett and Brisbane’s number 1 ruckman when the pressure is on in the finals, leading to less centre clearances for Geelong after a goal has been kicked.

    Finals are a completely different ball game so I personally would disregard Port Adelaide’s current form. Port Adelaide showed they were a great finals team last year beating Geelong convincingly in one final and only lost the Preliminary Final by 6 points, due to the brilliance of Dustin Martin. The Power will “grow another leg” in the finals. They have the talent. I don’t think the Western Bulldogs in 2016 beat too many top 8 teams in the home and away season before winning the flag.

    I think Melbourne aren’t mentally tough because you shouldn’t be losing to Adelaide and drawing to Hawthorn if you are mentally tough. The same applied to Geelong when they lost to Adelaide in round 1 but they have since recovered.

    I am biased because believe it ir not, I actually want Geelong to win this year’s flag instead of other Victorian clubs like Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs because as a St Kilda supporter, I don’t want Melbourne to break their flag drought before St Kilda and I don’t want the Western Bulldogs to go 3 flags to only 1 flag for St Kilda.

    I actually want all the interstate teams in either Brisbane, Port Adelaide, West Coast and Sydney to win this year’s flag because growing up with 12 Victorian clubs only, St Kilda were the laughing stock and I copped it every week from my fellow Victorian “friends” who supported other clubs. St Kilda “won” too many wooden spoons or bottom 3 finishes back when I was growing up, which is why I have a soft spot for every interstate team.

    Anyway, go Cats if your team make the Grand Final against Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs.

  8. CITRUS BOB says

    A fine analysis of where WE are at KP. Although I was somewhat critical of the selection of the “old-boys” Isaac Smith has been a treat as to has Cameron when he plays. Higgins is a classy player but we have enough of his ilk, Guths,Danger, Sell, Dunc, and 27 (Alzheimers crept in).
    Our biggest chance to winning flag is for every player to be fit in the first place. 120% for the finals. Esra is my great hope if he can continue on his form from Sunday. The G suits him to a T. Who to leave out? I think they call it managed these days. I’ll wait on that to see what happens over the next few weeks.
    This week against Norf will be a tough one. They are fleet of foot let’s analyze after the game how we went,
    Dips you will have to go and get that ruckman – nobody else seems to want to.

  9. Football Analyst says

    Chris, you can analyse all you want about Geelong’s past finals losses. Sorry, if I’m sounding harsh.

    In reality, unfortunately Geelong was simply not good enough. I personally don’t believe that the coaching had anything to do with the result of those matches, unless it ends up being very close. I have also come to the same conclusion with my team St Kilda’s narrow losses in the 2009 and 2010 Grand Final draw. Although those matches were close, it wasn’t Ross Lyon’s fault St Kilda didn’t win those games. Had St Kilda kicked straighter in the 2009 Grand Final and the ball bounced right for Milne in the dying minutes in the 2010 Drawn Grand Final, St Kilda may have had 2 flags. These are the what ifs. The game plan certainly helps but it can only get you so far. A prime example is St Kilda winning 19 games in a row in 2009, but not being good enough to win in the pressure moments, when the game was up for grabs in the 2009 Grand Final, due to Geelong’s greater talent, not to mention a Scarlett toe poke. It hurts me to say that, but it’s true, in my opinion.

    However, I have become a realist and decided that Geelong in 2009 and Collingwood in 2010 had too much talent, especially in the midfield, where the game is won. Once again it hurts me to say that, but it’s true.

    The point I’m trying to make is that you can analyse Geelong’s previous finals losses as much as you want but Geelong simply did not have enough talent to win those matches and I also believe that the opposition played with more intensity, especially Fremantle at Kardinia Park.

    The great Leigh Mathews constantly says that a coach is only as good as his players. I strongly hold that view and I have always had that view, since I was very young. Leigh Mathews said he was very fortunate to have had such great players at Brisbane, when he was coaching them. Look at Alastair Clarkson, a 4 time premiership coach, who had champion players in his 4 time premiership era at Hawthorn from 20008 to 2013. Where are Hawthorn now on the ladder? Equal last, with very few, if any, champions.

  10. Football Analyst says

    Sorry, I meant type Hawthorn’s premiership era was from 2008 to 2015 not 2008 to 2013, under Alastair Clarkson.

    Talent means everything, followed by a very good game plan and playing with intensity. The exception is GWS, who had the greatest talent of all, but lacked the intensity with below par tackling and pressure in their finals losses from 2016 onwards. It doesn’t matter what your game plan is, if the players at GWS weren’t as committed at the contests as their opponents in those losses. Sad, but true. GWS had the talent in the last 5 years to have had won at least 3 flags, like what what Brisbane, Geelong, Hawthorn and Richmond have already achieved this millennium.

  11. Football Analyst says

    PB has perhaps touched on one of the biggest issue about Geelong, regarding Kardinia Park.

    Don’t be fooled by Geelong being currently equal top of the ladder, even if it gives them the double chance in September again.

    Geelong are obviously the best team playing at Kardinia Park. Their record over a very long period of time is unbelievable. They have the best home ground advantage playing there, especially out of all the Victorian clubs home grounds, as their ground is different in dimension to the MCG and Marvel Stadium and of course, they are the only Victorian team who play there regularly.

    Why have I mentioned this? I have done so because I would like to see where Geelong finish on the ladder if all their home games are played at either the MCG or Marvel Stadium, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen in reality, unless of course, Kardinia Park becomes unavailable for the whole season due to an unforseeable event. I know Geelong did very well in Queensland last year but I’m talking about the MCG and Marvel Stadium against the better teams during the Home and Away season.

    Maybe, come September, Geelong haven’t performed as well at the MCG as they would have hoped for, because their best football is played at Kardinia Park. The exception of course, was Geelong winning Grand Finals at the MCG in 2007, 2009 and 2011 due to the exceptional talent of those teams.

    Geelong have won the odd finals at the MCG in recent years over West Coast, although PB would admit that West Coast are one of the worst travellers to the MCG, apart from 2018, 2006, 1994 and 1992, when West Coast had better teams.

  12. Football Analyst says

    I hope I’m wrong but I’ve now come to the conclusion that the Western Bulldogs will win the flag in 2021. Even at the start of the year, they reminded me of Hawthorn, who won a flag in 2008, and then followed it up 5 years later with a flag in 2013. I’m not suggesting the Western Bulldogs will win 3 flags in a row. The Western Bulldogs of course won the flag in 2016 and it’s now 5 years later, 2021.

    The Western Bulldogs also have several players in their team who were part of their flag in 2016, so they can win big matches on the MCG, where the finals, including the Grand Final, appear to be played this year. Melbourne, of course, play the MCG well, but I would like to see them beat a top 8 Victorian team at the MCG, apart from Geelong, in 2021, who were struggling at the time. I know Melbourne beat Geelong and Hawthorn in MCG finals in 2018, but Hawthorn haven’t won any final since 2015 and Geelong don’t perform well in finals at the MCG, since 2011. The Western Bulldogs will probably get Adam Treloar, Steff Martin and Alex Keith back for the finals.

    This brings me to Geelong’s MCG Finals record at the MCG since 2011. Geelong has won only 4 out of 13 Finals at the MCG since 2011, and only 1 of those wins was against a Victorian club in Hawthorn in 2016, who were on the way down, like Richmond are now, after their premiership era. As the top 3 clubs are currently Victorian clubs, Geelong appear to be playing at least a few finals in a row at the MCG this year, as they have just about secured the double chance.

    This is Geelong’s MCG Finals record since 2011:

    1) 2012 2nd Elimination Final: Fremantle 14.12.96 def Geelong 11.14.80

    2) 2013 2nd Semi Final: Geelong 13.18.96 def Port Adelaide 12.8.80

    3) 2013 1st Preliminariy Final: Hawthorn 14.18.102 def Geelong 15.7.97

    4) 2014 2nd Qualifying Final: Hawthorn 15.14.104 def Geelong 10.8.68

    5) 2014 2nd Semi Final: North Melbourne 14.14.98 def Geelong 13.14.92

    6) 2016 2nd Qualifying Final: Geelong 12.13.85 def Hawthorn 12.11.83

    7) 2016 2nd Preliminary Final: Sydney 15.7.97 def Geelong 8.12.60

    8) 2017 2nd Qualifying Final: Richmond 13.13.91 def Geelong 5.10.40

    9) 2017 2nd Semi Final: Geelong 15.8.98 def Sydney 5.9.39

    10) 2018 1st Elimination Final: Melbourne 10.15.75 def Geelong 6.10.46

    11) 2019 1st Qualifying Final: Collingwood 9.7.61 def Geelong 7.9.51

    12) 2019 1st Semi Final: Geelong 13.10.88 def West Coast 10.8.68

    13) 2019 2nd Preliminary Final: Richmond 12.13.85 def Geelong 9.12.66

    I believe Geelong are a victim of their own success at Kardinia Park, where they generally play travelling interstate teams and the weaker Victorian clubs, without a big following. The exception were Geelong’s win over the Western Bulldogs this year and Richmond in its premiership year. Geelong did beat Richmond recently at the MCG but Richmond have lost many games at the MCG this year. The finals aren’t played at Kardinia Park, except when Geelong played Fremantle, and Geelong lost that match there anyway.

    So apart from tackling pressure, lack of regular centre clearances after a goal is kicked due to a lesser ruckman than the other top teams, Geelong must devise a game plan that can win finals matches at the MCG against Victorian clubs especially, which are the ones that will count, for this year anyway.

    Geelong actually play better at Marvel Stadium than the MCG, but very few finals are played at Marvel Stadium and Geelong can’t rely on that happening in this year’s finals. If any team gets a Marvel Stadium Final this year, it could be the Western Bulldogs against Port Adelaide or Sydney or if future finals this year are shifted from Sydney and Brisbane to Marvel Stadium, because of the growing number of cases in Sydney and Brisbane, especially if it’s a home final for Sydney and Brisbane in the first or second week of the finals.

    Only time will tell.

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