Le Tenia

This morning the sunlight awoke me and I immediately felt uneasy. I was too rested- had I slept through my alarm? Ah. Daylight savings.
Then it crept through, that splinter in the ribcage. That splinter that sticks when you roll over on it in bed and remember that your sweetheart has left you or your dog has died or your team has been beaten by Fremantle by four points at Subi. Oh yes that’s right. That uneasy feeling that you are powerless and cannot change a damn thing.

The night before, still half committed to my work attire, I had said some terrible things. Some truly ghastly things. As I make my coffee and squint at the morning, I feel a sense of shame. I was in such a frenzy that my poor pugalier Murray retreated to another room and curled himself into a ball of trembling puppy-dog. How was he to know he was not the small, pathetic creature that I was angry at?

The night before.
The reigning premiers were beaten by Freo by four points. Months earlier, Freo had caused another stir when they boldly headhunted an unapologetic Ross Lyon from the clutches of the Saints. It was a ruthless and cunning stroke by a team that had found itself subjugated and bled by other clubs many times before. After all, that was their rightful place and we will let them climb when we are right and ready to do so.

When Fremantle swiped Ross Lyon, it also made a statement: We answer to no one.
The gall. The temerity. Surely, come round 1, Geelong will return the order. What Fremantle did to Mark Harvey “just felt wrong.”

We are told that Lyon had his players sitting exams on the game plan in the off season. If, as another almanacker so wonderfully put it, there is a struggle for idealism in a world grossly obsessed with pragmatism, then surely Lyon is with the latter. To me, he will always be the beaten coach pouring over the stats sheet half an hour after Geelong beat St Kilda in the ’09 GF. For that, I both pity and respect him.

Will he find absolution at Fremantle?

Fremantle had five goals before the game had even started. I had seen Geelong return from worse, but it was clear that the Dockers were ready. Clarke and Sandilands were a problem, and Ballantyne was rabid. His little manoeuvre – the one where he caught Stevie high, then propelled himself into his shoulder and rebounded to the ground – was impressive for its theatre. I’ve no doubt that while Pavlich is having set shots after training, Hayden Ballantyne is alone in the centre square and looks as if he is being tossed violently to and fro by a pair of invisible King St bouncers.

Sure, Stevie J has form in this area too, but his stages are less malicious and almost dadaist. At quarter time Geelong are back in the game. The camera pans to a fallen Chappy who looks as if he is vomiting. Geelong is nonplussed by Ballantyne, and that is probably where he won the Dockers the game – he and Nathan Fyfe.

Fyfe is a delight to watch. His balance and natural form are one – a danseur. Richo compares him to Bartel and, according to BT, the fans think this is gross hyperbole. Richo is a gentle and passionate man, and BT is an oaf. I understood what Richo said, and yes. Nathan Fyfe has a bit of Jimmy Bartel about him – there is a courage that is both artful and ferrocious.

The second term was reassuring for Geelong fans. Kelly, Enright and Corey all played predictably good football, and Selwood showed he will have no trouble as captain. His goalkicking is still a worry, but in the stoppages he is the perennial vanguard. I think it was the last quarter where he gathered, and twice escaped from tackles by rolling his shoulders. The umpires did not pay a free kick for too high, and I was glad. His strength and poise is  accentuated, and when he is granted continuity to further dispose of the ball or evade the tackler, his true character is evident. If he doesn’t get the free, he can’t be accused of playing for it.

My frustration with Matthew Scarlett is twofold. He struck Ballantyne with the left- he will miss games and is Geelong’s least replaceable player – and not particularly hard. One fears he will be hung for lamb and not the sheep, which many, many good AFL players will tell you is a tremendous shame. But worse than the goal or the strike itself, Scarlo gave Ballantyne the victory. It was once said that when the Romanian people killed Nicloae Ceausecu they became him, and that was his curse. As Romanian blood courses through my veins and boils, I know that to hate Ballantyne is to give him power.

To focus on his gamesmanship though is easy. Mellington was impressive in the third, and the Cats couldn’t do much about Clarke. They are always in the game, but Freo have Ballantyne.  He goals from play, and along with Pav’s mid air volley, the game is theirs.

Lyon and Fremantle win. Fremantle have had “season defining” wins over Geelong in recent times, and it is too early to know what the round 1 game means. Lyon was not bothered by notions when he departed from St Kilda, and he has asked his players too to challenge conventional boundaries, or perhaps ignore them. He is a militant and merciless man, without a hint of romance. Some of us are waiting to see whether his fruits will be sweet or sour. Will he be drawn in in by an inescapable karmic vortex and fail, or is his future blank, only to be filled by that which he and his men build? I believe he has some level of control.

Ballantyne. He is a good footballer, and he will infect and eat you if you do not have the strength to resist. I despise him as much as I would love him were to play for Geelong.

Today, I am still angry. At Scarlo, at Ross Lyon, and of course that Ballantyne. I cannot change what has happened, and will have no say in what will happen.

3. Ballantyne 2. Fyfe 1. Selwood

About Edward Harcourt

I'm 31 and I love the Cats!


  1. MScarlett – Old water buffalo who stays too long at the waterhole gets eaten.

  2. Richard Naco says

    Very good summary indeed. Freo won the game between the ears, and that is so often the difference.

    It was a well deserved victory, and it may well prove to be that classic case of win – win within the context of the entire season.

    My only consolations are the knowledge that the Geelong players will be reviewing their performances far harsher than anybody outside the circle (so the burning need for redemption could be that one little factor that lifts them beyond some quite formidable opposition as this barnstorming season evolves), and that a lot of people have now learnt to love Cameron Ling for the very reasons that we have for so long after his on air performance.

  3. Mark Doyle says

    A great game of footy between two good footy teams. Fremantle may well be a big challenger for the top four as will the Cats. Geelong supporters are not surprised by Matty Scarlett’s lack of discipline; he has a history of getting ‘sucked in’.

  4. Ed, fear not my friend. Did you see the pain on the Cat faces after the game? They are still hungry.

    Peter B’s water buffalo has won as many premierships as West Coast and three more than Ballantyne. (If my memory Ballantyne is not a single malt; just a cheap shot)

    Ballantyne will go also. The AFL set the precident last year with Selwood. To appear corrupt is one thing: to be corrupt is another.

    My wake up was better than yours this morning. It was to the news that Queens Park Rangers had beaten Arsenal but the down side was SHE was still there beside me.

  5. Pamela Sherpa says

    It was a good game to watch. I love watching Nat Fyfe. He reminds me of Terry Daniher more than anyone . Is an old fashioned ‘ always get your kick in’ type. I have mixed feelings about Freo. Would like to see them do well but aren’t particularly fond of Ross Lyon.

  6. John Harms says

    I suspect Ross Lyon will get quite a bit out of this team. If he can actually get Pav motivated they might do some damage.

    Sitting on the wing near ground level it looked to me like skill errors cost the Cats plenty. (including kicking for goal).

    But I think the Cats will be right in it again.

    And as for Johnno’s goal!

  7. John Harms says

    I should also mention Nathan Fyfe – a true joy to watch. And I agree Pam, he does look like Terry Daniher. But with the greatest of respect to TD I think NF might have him covered in the tricks department.

  8. God i Love them Dockers! ;)

  9. Not abandoning ship Danni?

    Where was Jack?

  10. No ship jumping, Dockers are my second team!
    Jack was with me, we’re going over his strategies :)

  11. The Haze was always going to be UP, UP, UP for this game. If they played as well as we seem to agree they did, then that bodes well for the Cats for this year.

    My question: How is it that Geelong have had to travel to perth to play Fremantle 2 years in a row without a return home game? I would have thought home games should alternate.

  12. You idiot Pete. Don’t you know anything.

    It’s because you spell Geelong G-e-e -l- o-n-g not C-o-l-l- i-n-g-w-o-o-d!

  13. Phantom,

    The latter one has another “O.”

    Be careful with your spelling.

  14. I don’t believe you Danni. Is it a girl thing?

    Both you and Pamela appear to be on the move. I am very worried. Knackers just don’t change clubs.

    This is Barassi like.

    There may have to be a meeting of the knacker leadership group to discuss appropriate disciplinary action

  15. Danielle says

    Phantom, would i lie to you? ;) haha

  16. Richard Naco says

    “God i Love them Dockers! ”

    I know how you feel, cus.

    I was pretty rapt with the Hawks on Friday night. (But I’m over them now.)


  17. Danni – the Pies and the Dockers!!!###*** Does that make you bi-coastal?

  18. Danielle says

    very funny Richard :P
    Peter; i like them EXCEPT for when they play my boys. Thats fair!

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