Joel Selwood. Joel Selwood. Joel Selwood.

The novelist Anson Cameron says that were Shakespeare alive today he’d spend his waking moments thinking of words that rhyme with Selwood. Because Selwood is the topic of the modern day. He deserves poetry: sonnets which capture his quintessence; and epic poems which  tell the tales of when he roamed the MCG, when he led men, before he was old enough to even realise that’s what he was doing; when he teamed up with one of the great ruckmen, Brad Ottens.

Anson is a good judge.

I’m not sure how many supporters of opposition clubs – your Collingwoods, your Carltons, your Essendons, your Hawthorns – know how good this young man is.

He’s 22.

He’s 22, and he has had a profound effect on the Geelong Football Club already. He’s played in two premierships, and a squillion wins. And all with skill and strength and creativity.

From the terrace, we have watched him as he has brought others into the moment, helping them by the purity of his understanding of the game, by the intuition in his decision-making. By just plain giving them the Sherrin in a creative way.

And we saw it from the start. In 2007, when in Round 5 Geelong lost badly to a Wells-led North at Kardinia, Selwood was not only the Cats’ best, he showed more leadership than any Cats’ player, and the coach. He was yet to purchase a razor.

The game last night was seen by many commentators as Geelong’s opportunity to see where it sits  in relation to the great Collingwood. This shows how short footy’s historical memory is. Those of us who can think back beyond a week or two would look at Geelong as the team of the last four years, and hence the roles reversed.

Hard to say from Q50 or the Northcote lounge room what the new coach – and what a blessed relied Chris Scott is – said to the boys, but they were entitled to believe Collingwood in fact had a lot to prove. Goodness, the boys have won 80-odd games from their last 100 starts.

And Joel Selwood has played in almost all of them.

On a cold, blustery, squally, (occasionally) rain-swept night the Cats started brilliantly, dominating the opening stanza. Ottens won the centre bounce contests and Selwood writhed and wriggled and bent and contorted and accelerated and found a path clear. Around the ground he had plenty of helpers, particularly James Kelly.

They built on a strong foundation across half-back through Taylor and Scarlett, and when they broke free moved easily into the forward line, where they missed opportunities galore.

This set a trend for the game: the Cats streaming out of defence and then bombing long to nobody but the Collingwood rocks, Harry O’Brien (a star) and Heath Shaw (another star). Against another side Varcoe and Wojcinski et al would have run the footy at them, burning up the space in front of them and drawing the defence, or dropped their eyes to find the options short. But there is always pressure against good sides like the Pies, and some of the belief dissolved.

Both sides battled to score, but when the Pies broke clear they were able to score easily: run-in goals followed Chinese-Checker moves, and turn-overs gave snap-chances to Sidebottom which he grabbed.

Selwood met his match in young Daisy Thomas, the boy from Drouin, where the water must be very good. Thomas’s attention made Selwood re-assess, which he did, but while he was rubbing his chin in thought, Thomas was taking screamers and running free, all while playing a defensive role.

Much of the middle half was tight, contested footy – and not great footy either, save for the tension it created on and off the field, and the opportunity it gave to vultures like Dane Swan – but after the final break the Cats intensity lifted and they came back at the Pies.

Selwood was instrumental again. When, as the game was in the balance, he took a strong mark near the point post, his footy mind asked the right questions. Do I fancy taking a set shoot from here? Or is that Johnno (whose crazy-bright mind is in tune with Selwood-footy) running at the goals? He handballed (from traffic) in the sort of moment known only to people like Louis Armstrong and Thelonius Monk. Goal.

Joel Corey went about things Like the Biblical Ruth. And Jimmy Bartel chimed in, his sublime skills surfacing in the wet. The skill of kicking is often taken for granted. Jimmy nailed two brilliant shots, a coupld of 2-irons, one to the 13th and one to the 51th at Augusts.

The Cats hit the front and were then advantaged by an interpretation of the advantage rule which denied Pendlebury a goal, and demanded Cam Wood take his kick.

In the final minutes the Cats hung on. The ball came to Harry Taylor on the half forwad flank, and he put on his best dopey face, and pretended not to hear the umpire, and ate up the seconds as he said, “pardon?” Before taking a shot that didn’t matter.

The Cats won a beauty, and take their place at the top of the ladder, to face what champion sides have always faced: the threat of all-comers who want the prize.

When, God-willing, we are sitting around as crinkly old-timers, we will still be talking about Joel Selwood. And asking the question: what were the new factors at Geelong in 2007? Tom Harley as skipper. Neil Balme as footy manager. It was the same old coach.

But Joel Selwood arrived.

Geelong 8.17.65 d Collingwood 9.8.62

Votes: 3. J. Selwood 2. S. Johnson 1. B. Ottens

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. forwardpocket says

    Last night the Cats wanted the ball like I remember Collingwood used to want the ball.

  2. JTH – are you prepared to declare Menzel a player yet? Thought he was good last night. He plays without fear of reputations. I like that. Swan plays the same way. They go to the footy without a thought for who they might be competing with.

  3. Peter Flynn says

    Great read JTH.

    Many discussion points. Two really good teams.

    I’m too seedy to add anything meaningful.

  4. Peter Flynn says

    I’ve just read Rohan Connolly’s best players.

    No Joel Selwood.


  5. forwardpocket says

    PF – beggars belief. Selwood sublime. On another note, surely with Andrew and Adrian’s zeal for head sacrosanctity Hawkins should be suspended for his head high ‘hit’ on Toovey.

  6. We retreat to regather. Just a flesh wound!

    Did you miss the 11.45, Flynny, or did you find some heavy booze somewhere in the AFL members?

    I think Connolly just plain forgot to put Selwood in – his article suggests he was aware of his influence.

    And, JTH, not sure how you get S.Johnson in there ahead of a few of the black and white boys you mentioned in the piece.

    Geelong will probably “suspend” Hawkins before the AFL does.

    Thawed Out, from Thornbury

  7. Peter Flynn says

    G’day MOC,

    Wise words.

    I missed the 11:45pm.

    Funny comment about Hawkins.

    Stevie J straightened up and played a really good 2nd half.

    My votes:

    (3) J Corey

    (2) J Selwood

    (1) H Shaw (good player this fella)

  8. Rick Kane says

    Great write up JTH. Selwood sensational, particularly that hand-pass to goal. I took the boy and he had himself a time and a half. My two moments of the match were as follows:

    1. Scarlett taking on three Pies in the back flank/pocket and emerging triumphant with the ball. The skill and poise of the man!
    2. Young Christensen’s goal late in the third to bring the Cats back to within a goal of the Pies. This, after Cat’s luminaries could hardly square it through the sticks for a point. It settled the Cats and gave them an extra ounce of belief, much needed at that time in the game.


  9. 3 -Selwood
    2 – Swan
    1 – Corey

  10. Damo Balassone says

    Thoroughly deserved win by the Cats, but I thought Heath Shaw or Dale Thomas could have squeezed in for a vote. Simon Buckley and Leon Davis were also encouraging for the Pies. Leon Davis is holding his own in the one-on-one contests and Buckley’s kicking was a delight. I also thought Bartel was a big factor in getting the Cats home – he was quiet in patches but delivered when it counted. Agreed John, those 2 goals were priceless in such conditions. Jimmy is having a wonderful season.

    Once again Ch 7’s coverage was terrible. The camera angles are getting worse every week. On so many occasions you had no idea where the players were relative to goal. Please! Can someone influential post an essay on this and hold Ch 7 to account – otherwise we are stuck with this rubbish for 5 more years.

  11. Tough to judge on TV but I thought Davis was one of the Pies’ best.
    They are an even bunch and I thought last year that the player they’d most miss was Jolly. So it was. I don’t think collingwood should be at all disturbed by last night.

  12. brother David says

    Jolly will make a huge difference. That cats should have won by more. The new substitute rule is better for Geelong than Collingwood. Who knows what will happen next time.

  13. Dave Nadel says

    iWhen I wrote the Floreat Pica Society report of the Collingwood Richmond game I wrote

    “I wouldn’t want to front up with Wood against a team which had better rucks than Graham and Vickery.”

    That is precisely what happened last night. Selwood might have been best on the ground, but Geelong won because they had a top riuckman in Brad Ottens and the only top ruckman on Collingwood’s list was recovering from surgery.

    The sooner we get Jolly back the better!!!!

  14. Yeah…I’m a big Selwood fan but this is a bit hysterical. An armchair ride!

  15. smokie88 says

    At the conclusion of the match, my wife said of Joel Selwood:
    “He is such a credit to his parents! Mr and Mrs Selwood must be good people.”

  16. Mark Doyle says

    A great game by the two best teams with Geelong having a bit of luck in getting the four points. A perfect result for us Geelong supporters. Notwithstanding Joel Selwood’s excellent game, we should not individualise and hero worship. Joel Corey was at least as good as Joel Selwood and had a better final quarter. Also, do not underestimate the contribution of blokes such as Brad Ottens, Jimmy Bartel, Matthew Scarlett, James Kelly, Steve Johnson, Paul Chapman and the defensive games of Tom Lonergan and Harry Taylor. I do not believe that blokes such as Jolly, Maxwell, Mooney and Milburn would have made a significant difference to the result. I believe that the reason for Geelong’s good form this year is fitness. At the end of last year Collingwood were fitter and in better form. Last year both Ottens and Corey missed a lot of footy with injuries and lacked match fitness in September.

  17. johnharms says

    G’day Mark Doyle, You make a very reasoned and rational case, and one which has much merit. Which I suppose just shows that we are quite different people. Not that I’m irrational: I love good argument. In this case I’m just happy to be a nutso fan and Joel Selwood lover. He was sublime – especially in the first quarter. Thanks for your comment, and I agree re Joel Corey. My selection of Johnno for the two votes was made in the same spirit. (Will comment on that later)

  18. johnharms says

    G’day Thawed Out from Thornbury, I had no idea I was supposed to be picking the best players. I was just picking the ones I really really like.

    But, for the record, remembering I was a late scratching from the match (the weather making the foot situation tricky) so watched it on the TV, here are my better players:

    Cats: Joel Selwood, Brad Ottens, Joel Corey, Scarlo, Jimmy Bartel ,Kelly (early). Hard to gauge the games of Taylor and Lonergan from the TV but Lonergan must have had a pretty good one because we saw very loittle of Dawes on screen.

    Pies: Thomas, Shaw, Swan (but not at the vital moments), O’Brien.

    Just on TV coverage matters, I could not tell you who played on Steve Johnson, or Chappy. In fact in an Arsenal off-side trap game like that it was very difficult to sort out match-ups (rotations or not). One thing did seem apparent: the Cats looked to jump all over Luke Ball and Scott Pendlebury.

    Really enjoy watching Menzel’s emergence.

    Re these two sides being clear of the pack? We need to see some ore of the combinations: especially insofar as the PIes are concerned.

    I invite all footy fans to look at the Cats draw so far. It’s had your Hawthorns, your Collingwoods, Your Freos, your Sydneys, your St Kildas. I had them winning the flag, but 3-4 now, and nailing a wnderful negative split.

  19. Can’t believe so little has been made of the Cloke/Ling incident. Uts all been about Pendlebury’s non-goal. But watching Cloke drag Ling to the ground whilst having hold of just one arm (Ling had long disposed of the ball) leads me to the conclusion that Cloke had only one intention; to cause harm. If we follow the Trengrove precedent Cloke should get at least 2 weeks.

  20. Dips, Cloke should be reviewed but there will be nothing. They have crucified Tengrove but will fix that this week by letting one go.

    Cats get another team off the bye again this week. Well set up when they thought the Cats would fall away this season.

    AFL needs to review the post Twoovey injury management. Wouldn’t be surprised if Hawkins is not cited. Play should have stopped immediately. They can’t argue that no one knew. They have the technology pick up a player crossing the interchange line a fraction of a second early or personal messages from Melbourne players so they should be able to make a decision to potentially save a player’s life.

    Oh that’s right, Collingwood cleared and went deep into attack when they were on top. Better leave it for a few minutes so they can get a goal. That might just break the game open. Bugger ,the Cats clear and are on a very promising break. Stop play.

    I have no problem with the stopping play except the timing leaves the AFL nowhere to hide. They must act no matter how much they want to look after their cash cow. They favour Collingwood at any opportunity. We all saw it. No amount of emotive mumbo jumbo or smart comment can deflect from the fact that they are given preferential treatment.

    The AFL is as bad as FIFA.

  21. Dave Nadel says

    No Phanto it’s not a vast Magpie conspiracy. It was just an incompetent set of umpires. They should have stopped the game earlier and they didn’t because all three were watching the ball rather than leaving one to monitor the aftermath of the Toovey/Hawkins clash. There isn’t a person connected with Collingwood who wouldn’t prefer a healthy Toovey to one shot at goal in a 100 minute game.

    The umpires also showed their incompetence in the way they handled the Pendlebury advantage kick. The result was an accurate reflection of the match – the team with a class ruckman and a high centre clearance rate played better than the team with a VFL ruckman and a poor clearance rate. but Pendlebury’s goal should have stood.

    Cloke’s tackle was legitmate, Hawkins injury of Toovey was accidental. Neither should be cited.

  22. Phantom – the fact that the Hawkins incident has even been mentioned in the media indicates how ridiculous things have become. A bloke can’t go for the mark?

    The stop play when Stevie J was charging forward was a debacle. We had the momentum, we then lost it. It was every bit as important as Pendlebury’s disallowed goal.

    I couldn’t help noticing Manchester United’s coach reading from a prepared statement after the game when talking to the media. Mick referrred to a bit of stale bread or some such nonsense, but I’m sure he was reading from a piece of paper. Where does he get the time in amongst all that thinking he must do?

  23. Dips, I reckon Menzel’s pretty good for a 19 year old, just realised that the crucial one-on-one he won near the end before kicking to Selwood, was against Swan, to make it even more impressive.

    Funny that as you mention John, Thomas matched up with Selwood, but you still went away thinking those two blokes were probably the best for their respective teams, they both went hard at it.

  24. Dave Nadel says

    Dips, I agree with you about the stop play on Stevie J. I made it quite clear that I don’t blame the umpiring for Collingwood’s defeat. Nevertheless the umpiring was dreadful, Somebody needs to tell Ray Chamberlain that we go the football to watch Selwood and Pendlebury play footy, not to watch Razor Ray umpire!

  25. Comerade Dave,

    you are right in stating that Hawkins should not be cited.

    Under the Tengrove ruling the Cloke incident is worth at least a week, but even if he was given it, the process appears that Collingwood just need to lodge an appeal and he will get off. The precident has been set.

    Collingwood have favoured status because they are the China of the AFL and the AFL Kow Tows to them.

    If the umpires missed the Toovey injury the fourth umpire had several minutes to interject. They are wired up. It sure looked like Collingwood were given enough time to score. We all saw it. Who was it who said ‘You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time’?

    It can’t be said that I am a sore loser. i argue from the moral high ground. We won.


    Malthouse is the Furgerson of the AFL. At the 73rd minute of the game last night Furgerson slipped up the line and pointed his finger to his watch infront of the ref. Next thing there was a slight touch from the Blackburn goal keeper and there was a blatent dive. (At that stage Man United who were not in the game but needed one point to get the title were one goal down.) Not paid good old ‘single malt nose’ put pressure on the linesman and the penalty was paid to the ‘cash cows’.

    It is all about senior statesmen, with inflated opinions of their own worth, realising that they work within a dodgey system and are able to exploit it for their own benefit.

    The English Premier League is no more about one team than the AFL is. But there are a few powerful people who have another opinion.

    Yes , an umpire erred over the Pendlebury incident but who ever it was will pay this week yet I am willing to wager the opportunity for the Pies to get the goal when Toovy was in trouble will go unnoticed.

    It is blatent, it is bad for the game and I am willing to state it. The AFL is has a George Orwell’s 1981 smell about it at the moment and it is killing football.

    They may think it is ok for the grand plan but the strike and the revolution is com ing.

  26. John Butler says

    I would like to lodge a protest to all you Geelong folk stirring up the Magpie fraternity.

    This creates obvious issues of demarcation, as this role indisputably belongs to the Carlton Football Club. We issue a cease and desist notice, which if ignored will find proceedings before the Fair Work Australia tribunal for impingement of historic role and identity.

    Whilst Carlton readily acknowledges it has recently been negligent in discharging its responsibilities in this matter, we do not believe this constitutes grounds for breach of contract, merely an historic blip.

    We hope the good people of Geelong see fit to acknowledge this error, and that normal conduct of business will be resumed by next Friday night.

    We look forward to your cooperation in this regard.

  27. Another team that gets the bye the week before the Cats JB.

    Curioser and curioser.

  28. John Butler says

    Phantom, if you think they’re all out to get you, you’re probably right.

    Although, as most teams have lost after the bye, who’s trying to get who?

  29. Dave Nadel says

    During the last period that the AFL had an uneven number of teams (1991-93) it emerged that clubs played below their best the week after the bye. Some journos referred to at as the “killer bye.” The Cats get to play Collingwood, Carlton and Gold Coast after a bye. Perhaps the AFL is favouring the Cats…..makes as much sense as the conspiracy theories that you have rolled out in this thread, Phanto.

  30. JB,

    that would favour you next week. We had the bye this week.

  31. Dave,

    Phantoms see and know many things, fear not Greeks baring gifts (to some clubs) and don’t kow tow to the forces of evil.

  32. Dave Nadel says


    Get back to your lair, you are becoming overexcited.

  33. Clearisghted says

    Stevie J and Pendlebury were both perceived to have suffered from an erroneous interpretation of the same rule. In both cases, however, the time on whistle had been blown, so the interpretation was correct.
    In Pendlebury’s ca
    se, the play was in the forward fifty. Most players were at a standstill because they had heard the whistle indicating time on.
    Why not make the rule even clearer? ie. if a free is paid in the forward fifty, there is no play on advantage,
    That would sort it.

  34. It’s a cave, Dave.

  35. Phantoms may well be lairs, but they certainly live in caves.

    I am just going there now to hide as Celtic have just lost the SPL to Rangers (= Collingwood) by one one point.

  36. Alovesupreme says

    Are the Greeks unwrapping the gifts, rather than carrying them (baring cfd. bearing)?
    Phanto, Collingwood has always had too many Catholics to be equivalent to Rangers. Anyway Celtic have only themselves to blame, dropping two points to Inverness Caley bloody Thistle – and I share your prejudice in Glasgow’s Association Football struggles.

  37. Dave Nadel says


    1. Sorry I got my lairs and caves confused – it is some years since I read the adventures of the ghost who walks.

    2. Celtic are far more Collingwood than Rangers. I went to the New Years Day game in January 74 with a bunch of Celtic supporters (half of them named Jimmy). I felt completely at home. Apart from the singing and the Scottish accents it could have been the outer at Victoria Park. So, much as it may pain you, we actually support the same team in the Scottish Premier League.

  38. Richard Naco says

    Remind me.

    Didn’t Geelong actually win after our bye?

  39. Your still having problems with language Dave.

    Its Jammy, not Jimmy

  40. Clearisghted says

    The supporters’ drone of “Colllllingwoooood” is more in keeping with the Pommy soccer crowds – nae too much Celtic abou’ tha’, Laddies.

  41. JTH

    Fair enough on your voting system. Now that I aware of the rules, you’ll get no argument from me. Ashley Porter at The Age must “really really like” Shaun Burgoyne – gave him votes against Port last week. I thought he was close to worst on ground.

    From my centre-wing viewpoint, Lonergan towelled up Dawes, Shaw, Thomas and Davis were our best (in that order), TC and Jumping Jack are innocent (until proven negligent), Razor was everywhere, Flynny wasn’t standing under the Steve Waugh photo as promised (or at least not when I looked anyway), Mooney wasn’t missed, Jolly was, and we all set our sites on ROUND 24.

  42. johnharms says

    MOC, I didn’t know there was a Steve Waugh photo. I thought there were only magnificently faded shots of a young Jimmy Adams and an even younger Deano? I do love that end of the ground, and it is very P. Flynn. And, as you know, it’s a path I like to take: Cricketers’ into the standing room at the Punt Rd end and finishh off with a couple at the Cricketers’.

  43. Danielle says

    so Joel Selwood is to blame? hmmm guess id be angry if he wasnt so darn cute.
    That awkward moment when Toovey is put in the injury list with the word as the reason (face) Now i know that Toovs may not be great looking or anything but saying his face is an injury just isnt very nice lol.

  44. Peter Flynn says


    I was having a cleanser downstairs from 5 minutes before half-time until the early stages of Q3.

    There were cut lunches thrown underneath SR Waugh during the first quarter. Not many connected.

    Very Newman on Barrott

  45. thefreeak says

    1) Selwood was the first player picked in my Dreamteam. Bargain.
    2) Dane Swan wishes he was as good as Pendlebury.
    3) Tom Hawkins’ career peaked on Friday night. He will never be more than a wrecking ball made of meat with the IQ of a box of hammers.
    4) Carn les Pies.

  46. And now the Cats have a huge incentive to get them accross the line this year.

    They must have done it for Bobby on Friday night.

  47. the freeak,

    does than mean that we are going to have to clear him to the Pies so he can be with his forward line peers?

  48. JTH,

    As supporter of “your Essendons” I felt the desire to respond to your piece thus: I just want to hold Baby J. Rock him to sleep. Whisper sweet nothings in his ear.

    That is the esteem with which I hold the young man, which I would think is fairly representative of your Collingwoods, your Carltons et al.


  49. Peter Flynn says

    Vale Bobby Davis

  50. As a Hawthorn supporter I am all to well aware of the impact and genius of Joel Selwood, this is because picking Mitch Thorpe one pick before Selwood in that years draft is our version of Richmonds Tambling over Franklin pick.

    The thing that makes it so frustrating for all Hawthorn fans (or those paying attention anyway) is that Buddy and Roughy had already proved that they were going to be great (Franklin) or at least good (Roughhead) for us going forward so yet another Tall Forward was not really that much of a requirement, but a potential elite, already AFL ready midfielder to complement Hodge and Mitchell was just what the club needed.

    Yeah there is some hindsight in this admittedly, but still even if we didnt pick Selwood, or made a better pick that Thorpe, the point was not the player so much as allocating a resource to the wrong position, if the AFL has taught us anything this decade it is that you just cannot afford to whiff on Top 10 picks, it is imperative you make them count. Richmond fluffing on Tambling could be said to have cost them 30 wins since 2003 (can you imagine Delidio to Buddy) and I firmly beleive that missing on Selwood cost the Hawks another Grand Final appearance at the very least, particularly with the injurys in our midfield since 2008, Joel would have given us a midfield of Hodge, Mitchell, Lewis and Selwood………..that is truly elite.

  51. Shane Johnson says

    And the mighty Lions picked Leuneberger before Selwood
    Gubby strikes again

  52. Jimmy Bartel’s skill and kicking was pure class. While Selwood plays the game like a demon, Bartel seems to be on another level all together.

    One negative for Selwood must be his penchant for head ducking. I think it is a Selwood family trait. The words “Selwood looks a little worse for wear” are said almost every weekend. At West Coast, they sometimes run into each other. Aside from that, he is top shelf.

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