Little devils fire up while Demons take another step

By Barry Levinson

It’s only now, in my early thirties, that I’m beginning to think maybe one day I wouldn’t mind having kids. So far I can think of two good reasons. First, it would be handy having someone able to work out how to program the video recorder.  Second, and most important, it would be good having a little tacker to take along to the footy and brainwash into becoming a Demons fan. But after a day at the ’G surrounded by kids I’m not so sure.

As I take my seat in the forward pocket of the Olympic Stand prior to the first bounce of mission impossible against the Cats, I quickly notice three youngsters sitting in front with their Geelong-obsessed parents. “Must try hard not to swear,” I tell myself.

I’m not expecting a stressful day at the footy, so it’s certainly an achievable goal.

Much of the talk before this match has surrounded Gary Ablett’s amazing run of form and whether he can have another forty-possession game. It takes less than ten seconds for the little master to kick the first goal of the game after bursting from the centre square.

I know Melbourne have no chance of winning, but I’m keen to see how they handle the challenge of playing arguably the best team in the land. At every stoppage there’s lots of finger-pointing and directions being given from Demon players intent on sticking to a game plan. Geelong’s skills are significantly better than Melbourne’s and the Cats play a run-and-carry style of footy to which the Demons seem to be aspiring.

For most of the first quarter, the Dees’ plan is working. A fierce amount of pressure creates more than a few scoring opportunities, but Melbourne fail to capitalise. It appears their recent poor conversion rate in front of goal is set to continue, with the Demons booting four behinds and one out on the full before Ricky Petterd finally kicks a major.

A Cale Morton goal on the run a minute later puts the Dees up by a point, but it doesn’t worry the kids in front. All decked out in Cats colours and ranging in age from four to eight, they’re more interested in the food their Mum’s brought than the action out on the ground. Both parents are diehards. Dad has one ear on the radio and Mum marks down every score in her Record. Dad does his best to keep the kids’ minds on the footy.

“Look, Mooney’s kicked his second goal”, he tells them. “You like Cam Mooney.”

One of the girls doesn’t stop eating throughout the first half. “Surely she’s into her fourth-quarter rations by now,” I say to my friend.

After heading into the first change leading by five points, the Cats lift a gear. The Demons waste some more goal-scoring opportunities and Geelong make them pay. Steve Johnson kicks three of his side’s six goals for the term.

I stand up to make way for another family with a large supply of children to take the seats on our left. They don’t like to sit still for much of the second half; they constantly get up to run up and down the stairs.

The Cats do enough to put the Demons away without turning the game into the massacre I feared. Melbourne never have a sniff, but the young Dees again show enough signs to indicate they are on the right track. It might still be a few years before they can genuinely challenge teams like Geelong, but the future looks bright.

The kids surrounding me have a great day. The latecomers make friends with those in front when they start playing with Geelong coloured balloons. Isn’t life simple when you’re six years old? Meet someone of similar age and you’re instantly best friends.

I feel for the parents. Surely their enjoyment of the match is hindered by ensuring that the children share the food and stop being mean to each other. Tears flow at regular intervals, but no major harm is done.

The biscuits and sweets do eventually run out and signs of fatigue set in. Despite the Cats being well in command, the family in front leave fifteen minutes before the final siren.

Ablett finishes the game on the pine with only 25 touches and a sore groin. His fellow follicularly challenged teammate Paul Chapman fills the breach and takes best afield honours.

Melbourne 2.4    4.6    6.7    10.8 (68)
Geelong      3.3   9.8    12.17    15.21 (111)

GOALS – Geelong: S.Johnson 4, Mooney 3, Rooke, Varcoe 2, Ablett, Chapman, Hawkins, Stokes.
Melbourne: Robertson 3, Miller 2, Bennell, Johnson, Morton, Petterd, Sylvia.

BEST – Geelong: Chapman, Bartel, Selwood, S.Johnson, Corey, Enright, Mackie. Melbourne: Davey, Moloney, McLean, Frawley, Morton, Warnock.

UMPIRES: Kennedy, Ryan, Dalgleish.

CROWD: 36,932

VOTES: Chapman (G) 3, Bartel (G) 2, Selwood (G) 1.

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