More complications?

Friday night: Geelong v Collingwood. A weary season is pushing towards the inevitable conclusion.

I have speculated, in an article during the week, about the possibility of complications to the narrative. Some commenters have agreed, but the wise and the cynical have restated the season’s direction, and expressed general boredom.

But wait. Is that the Cats running the footy like it’s 2007? Is that Travis Varoce taking off like a free spirit? Is that Hawk climbing skywards? Is that every Cat looking inside and taking the risky option? But what about turnovers? They’ll get slayed?

Is that the Pies going slow, and saving themselves? Is that a 96-point win? Was that the sound of Geelong being played into form? What does that mean?

Is that St Kilda winning? And Michael Gardiner having a run? Is that the West Coast looking strong? And did I notice that Essendon had a bye? And is that eight Hawks blokes lounging round the pool at Broadbeach?



We are a very happy household. We’ve been playing Kiss and Abba, and the Geelong FC song (on repeat). The sun has been shining, until today. We even had a barbecue.

I love this weekend. And this particular manifestation of it looks superb. You can make a case fo all eight teams – even West Coast (although the weather will make it tough for them).

I came to Melbourne (from Brisbane) for this equivalent weekend in 1995, meeting a dozen other mates. We lobbed at an el cheapo hotel in East Melbourne and went to all four matches.

It was a weekend where grown men felt obliged to have their faces painted, and conga-line through restaurants while black-bereted double bass players with guitar belted out the Spiderman theme (and some diners downed cutlery to join us).

Melbourne was alive. Carnivale. And the world was watching.

It is again this weekend.

Let the plot thicken.

And the conversation continue.

…where were you for week 1 in 1995? What was the classic first week of the finals for you?

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. Hi Harmsy

    I’m pretty sure that one Jordan Lewis wasn’t “lounging round the pool at Broadbeach”. I follow him on Twitter and I’m pretty sure he was in Portsea, er, lounging around. Can’t wait for tonight.

    If you don’t mind I’ll reflect on 1992. I arrived in Melbourne in 1992 an innocent to the ways of the grand Final. When friends in Perth phoned to say they were coming over for the GF I told them I’d organise the tickets. Foolish me. I found out very quickly that you CAN’T just buy tickets to the GF. They organised tickets through the Eagles and we all went. I was living in North Fitzroy. We cooked up a massive breakfast (after buying up at Piedimontes) and caught the tram in. I’m still in thrall to how trams add to Melbourne’s beauty, so you can imagine how I felt back then, heading in to see the Grand Final. And what a corker it was. It’s still the only GF I’ve attended and is still one of the great moments of living here. I didn’t have a team but I was hoping the Cats would win (anyone but the Eagles or Pies). Oh well, that’s the way it goes. But I did get to see Ablett play on the greatest stage of all.


  2. Andrew Fithall says

    On the subject of 1992, it is a year I recall for its first week of finals. The final 6 was in place. Having missed the finals in 1991, Collingwood had finished third on the ladder. I had a theory that this was actually the best place to finish. To get to the grand final, it was best to play in the second semi. To get to the second semi, 1st had to play 2nd while 3rd got to play 6th and 4th played 5th. The two highest placed winners then played in the second semi. So, theoretically 3rd had the easiest run into the 2nd semi as it only had to play 6th, while 1st and 2nd had to play each other in a second chance game. Helen and I were in Corowa for the weekend, staying with Joe Barlow and his wife Gen. It was a wine bottling weekend. We had bought red wine in bulk from a couple of Rutherglen wineries. Listened to the Coll StK game on the radio. There was a flaw to my theory. 3rd was meant to win against 6th. It didn’t. St Kilda won. Collingwood eliminated. West Coast, which finished 4th, also won, and as one of the two highest placed winners, proceeded to the Grand Final and eventual premiership. So the theory held out. It was just that Collingwood failed in that first week. Not as much of the red ended up in the bottle. What eventually did aged well and was drinking well up to 10 years later. In theory.

  3. John Butler says


    A group of friends.Plenty of good food. Drinking the wine as you bottle it. One of life’s great pleasures.

    Like a Collingwood finals loss. :)

  4. You’re asking for a fight, JB. ;-)

  5. I missed out on last night Gigs. :)

    And tell me you disagree.

  6. It was Finals Week 1 a year before JTH’s that isn memorable for me. Not in a great way, but memorable nonetheless. 1994 was the first year of the Top 8, using the old format of 1 v8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5.

    The first final was on Saturday arvo at Waverley. A cracker between North and Hawthorn that ended with scores level. Wayne Caret dominated all day, and North dominated extra time kicking 3.5 to nothing to win by 23.

    That night I went to the ‘G to see Geelong (4th) play Footscray (5th). In saw Terry Wheeler in the next aisle. After Round 2 in that season he’d been sacked as coach, replaced by Alan Joyce (the first of two Alan Joyces I would come to “not like”. Geelong blew us away in the first 20 minutes. I think it was 8 goals to win before we kicked two late. 8.3 to 3.3 at quarter time. From there we clawed our way back before hitting the front via a Richmond snap with moments to go. Then came the final bounce. Hocking to Mensch to Billy Brownless. Billy marked, siren went. Geelong were down by a point. A miss would mean another game of extra time. But Billy didn’t miss.

    And then on Sunday arvo, Melbourne 7th, knocked off 2nd placed Carlton by 5 goals, a big upset. I’m never unhappy to see Carlton lose but I realised that this meant that if ladder leader West Coast got knocked off by 8th-placed Collingwood later that arvo, the Dogs would be out of the finals. But surely there was no chance of that.

    But it so nearly happened. If not for Mick McGuane dropping a sitter, Collindwood almost certaibly would have won.

    As it it turned out, West Coast fell in and the Dogs lived to fight another week. I wish we hadn’t. A 10-goal haul from G Lyin blew us away and left me wishing Collingwood HAD won, so I could still now be saying “we wuz robbed in ’94”.

  7. Andrew Fithall says

    Excellent Age articles by Anson Cameron (Geelong) and John Silvester (Hawthorn) in today’s Age. Loved these lines from the John Silvester article:

    we observe that if Ronald Ryan had Joel Selwood’s neck they never would have been able to hang him. We also wonder if the Geelong council has passed a bylaw making it illegal for Matthew Scarlett to play on an opponent.

  8. You’ve got me, JB. I can’t tell you I disagree.

  9. Coincidentally, Dips, I was also at both of those Saturday finals: the “draw” at Waverley,
    and Brownless post-siren match-winner.
    I took my wife to the Hawks v North match: amazingly, it was the first and only time she
    was ever at VFL Park. I also remember Carey dominating. But I also recall that North’s
    starting forward-line was probably the biggest in AFL history: Fridge Roberts, Wayne Carey,
    Pater Mann, Corey McKernan, John Longmire, and one other who escapes me.
    I remember thinking that the Bulldogs were oh so stiff to lose.

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