Resilience-The essence of greatness

By Domenic Favata

The one driving force that has enabled Geelong to become known as one of the greatest teams of the modern era is their ability to recover from various hurdles along the way, dating back to the 2005 preliminary final heart break against Sydney. This era of domination has been all but smooth-sailing, what some seem to forget are the challenges along the way, the final seconds disaster in the 06 prelim, the frailty before the 2007 premiership and the inevitable departures of both Gary Ablett and Mark Thompson. This great Geelong team are known for their articulate on-field display of football, their dare and their high-scoring capabilities which entertain crowds. What must never be forgotten is the resilience that has run through the veins of each and every Geelong person. Resilience, the essence of greatness.

2005 Preliminary final versus the Sydney Swans at the SCG, Geelong look all but home until the dying seconds of the last quarter where Nick Davis miraculously scrambles for that memorable goal. Geelong are shot in the heat, the tight, contested game of footy has all come down to a scrappy goal which puts Sydney into a Grand Final in which they became the 2005 premiers. Players such as Scarlett, Ottens, Enright, Corey, Bartel, Hunt, Ling …. Players that were a part of the 2011 Premiership were a part of that heart-wrenching defeat. This would have shot any other team, but not Geelong, who now have a sense of superiority and togetherness that has derived from their ability to triumph over adversity.

2007, Mark Thompson is almost sacked early in the season after sub-par performances over the last eighteen months. ‘Bomber’ avoids the sack by the skin  of this teeth , they then go on to smash Richmond by 157 points (what a horrible day L) and go on to begin their era of invincibility, winning the first of three premierships. What could have been?

2008, Geelong picks up where they leave off, dominating the home and away season but fall short to Hawthorn in an unexpected Grand Final disaster. Astray goal-kicking and a heart-wrenching shot to a tea that were considered ‘lucky’ by many, could have destroyed this team and prematurely have ended their dominance. Geelong bounce back in 2009, however, the emergence of St Kilda as the number one team with a near-perfect season makes the premiership race much harder. A memorable Grand Final performance results in the second of three Premierships by the cats, twelve months after losing one and Paul Chapman vowing to ‘never’ lose to Hawthorn again. A true example of the culture of this magnificent team.

2010, Collingwood emerge as the invincible team and Geelong slip down to second in the pecking order , following St Kilda’s terrific season. Geelong are swamped with the rumours of an Ablett and Thompson rift, that Ablett is headed to the Gold Coast and that they were perhaps too old and too slow to go back to back. The predictions of many football experts seemed to be correct as Geelong are smashed in the Preliminary Final by Collingwood. To make matters worse, both Thompson and Ablett leave in quick succession. This was a major hurdle in the Cats era of supremacy, when everyone (including me) declared the era ‘over.’

2011, Chris Scott, a new coach invigorates the Cats while Collingwood produce one the best home and away seasons of all time to become short priced premiership favourites. However, Geelong produces an unexpected season, finishing second and capping off a brilliant final series with a win over Collingwood in the Grand Final, the second premiership. Twelve months after they were smashed in the prelim final, the departures of Ablett and Thompson, and the era declared over. Geelong are now truly one of the ‘greatest teams of all’.

The Geelong Football club are now considered alongside Brisbane of the early 2000’s and the Hawks of the 80’s, all resulting from an ability to triumph over adversity and bounce back when written off by everybody. To have the ability to rally after several disastrous events shows the unity of the Geelong Football Club, a unity that is much more than just kicking goals on the field.



  1. You are right Dom.

    We have come back from huge disappointments to win flags next year. Others may well have crumbled under the weight.

  2. Great stuff Dom,

    the Cats have been a delight to watch over the last five years. You can go from invincible to invisible in one quarter on the grandest stage and vice-versa if you look at Tomahawk. Hope the Pies can learn from the Cats’ culture of resilience, skill and daring.

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