Losing Away

After being in front heading into the last, both seniors and reserves got rolled by good, tough rural teams. We’ll be pushing to make the five, damn it. If we were over-achieving, it would be fine, but it’s just not fun when we’re better than this. Or maybe we’re not. I’ve never met a scoreboard that’s recorded a single excuse.

Later, we hit a pub in town, wedged between suburbia and industry. The place is our club’s major sponsor, and we give something back by eating and drowning our sorrows, some of us hard. The beer wears thin, the three dollar shots look nice, and The Suns are running around Geelong between the top of the walls and the ceiling.

The sound’s down, drowned out by Kenny Rodgers and disco on the juke box, so the names are blurry, but that doesn’t matter a damn. Me and Betsy and Watson (named after Tim) watch like footballers, more so than ex-race callers, and draw our own conclusions.

Geelong know Gary Ablett, and how to shut him down. Most of his few possessions are rushed and nowhere. He tries hard, with pride. It’s good to see, but they have him. Still, so what? He’ll come and go. What we’re looking at is the Suns, the future.

They have a blondey who runs fine and kicks it a mile, a ruckman who’s ground-level follow-up makes me drool, and, yes, their Krakouer has that magic, but, more than anything, the Suns have pace and hunger. They pressure Geelong down to their level, and a ripper game kicks, tackles and soothers its way around us via the four tv monitors. It feels great, as they drive home the goals, still without much structure, but through youth and force of will. To be surrounded by tomorrow.

One of their majors results from three solid minutes of forward-line pressure. Try counting 180 seconds. It is forever. The effort of it would kill most people.

Karmichael Hunt kicks a goal and everybody in the pub claps. It’s a battlers’ bar, and they’re sick of people cutting the man down. They’re neutral, and care little for the Suns, but are genuinely happy for him.

Geelong deliver the ball flatter than in years gone by, punching their drop punts, hard and fast, to each other. Giving no air time, as if, from here on in AFL kicks won’t arch, but be mean, straight things.

Eventually, they find their structure. In players like Pod, they find their muscle, in Bartel they find their class, and, in Johnson, find their bully. He is just too good to play against somebody who’s learning. But it doesn’t matter, we don’t care. The future begins in fits and spurts. The muscle and stamina of this level take years. For a half the Suns send a shudder through the pub, and probably pubs around the nation. In three or five years they’re going to be mighty.

In the meantime, we watch their young players pushing a genuine Premiership contender.  A hardened, profesional club.

“It must be great,” I tell Betsy. “To feel like you’re a part of it.”

He had an average game in the Ones and is a bit flat.

“What’s that?” he says, turning to face me.

“Even if half these blokes burn out or get de-listed before the Suns make it,” I say, “they’ll have experienced the momentum of being five goals up against duel flag winners and charging.”

“Stop being so jealous,” he grins.


  1. The Suns remind me of that Rachel Hunter ad for some shampoo.

    “It won’t heppin ovirnight, bet ut wull heppin”

    I like the talk Gabblett is talking. Here is there for the challenge of bringing up the next generation. Would like to see more of their games on tv here…

  2. Exchange “Here” for ‘He’ and you will get the gist…

  3. Pamela Sherpa says

    I was happy to see the Suns doing well and giving the Cats a scare. Glad to see Hunt kick a goal too. It has annoyed me that the Melb media has been so negative and judgemental towards Hunt. Give the bloke a chance to find his feet and play the game. I hope he makes it.

  4. Matt Zurbo says

    Pamela, Gus, yeah, I got no probs with the Suns, their jumper looks great, now to start a movement to get them to replace that tinny, corporate crap GC logo off it and put a bloody Sun there. Something that is symbolic of the team, that kids and future supporters can fall in love with.

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