Round 12 – Geelong v Melbourne: Good Luck With That…

 

Melbourne versus Geelong

3.20pm, Sunday 21 June Simonds Stadium, Geelong

Rusty Berther

 

I cursed the Demons. Not swore at them, though I’ve certainly done that. I inadvertently cursed the Demons. Twice.

March 1997. I was on a flight from Adelaide. The Melbourne Demons, of whom I am a supporter, were also on that flight. I was seated across the aisle from Neil Balme who was heading into his fifth straight year as head coach. I nervously spent the flight thinking of something I could say to him and as we all plodded off the plane I turned to him and simply said.

‘Good luck!’

‘Thanks mate,’ said Balmey. ‘It’s gonna be a good year.’

Two months later Neil Balme was sacked and the Demons won the 1997 wooden spoon.

March 2009. At a Round One pre-match function, I saw Melbourne’s new number 1 draft pick and saviour Jack Watts.

‘Good luck, mate,’ I said.

One week later Jack made his much anticipated and now much talked about debut against Collingwood. Many believe he has never recovered.

The Demons also won the wooden spoon that year.

June 2015. On a sunny but cool wintery Sunday, I traipsed through the leafy, suburban streets of Geelong towards Simonds Stadium to watch the Demons play the Cats when I spotted the Melbourne coach, Paul Roos, entering the ground. I shut my mouth and quickly walked away.

I hadn’t seen Geelong play live since the 2005 Elimination Final when Stephen King kicked Jeff White in the face. There were some scary Cats fans around in those days and this being my first ever trip to Kardinia Park, I was expecting it to be a little rough around the edges. Oh my, how wrong I was. The stands were full of happy families with face painted kids passing around homemade chocolate slice and polite older couples with blankets on their knees sipping warm drinks poured from tartan thermoses. It was like I had been invited to Grandma’s for afternoon tea.

The crowd was understandably relaxed and annoyingly confident that the Cats would come up with the four points in a fitting tribute to Corey Enright who was celebrating his 300th game.

Let’s face it, after some of the spankings that Geelong has handed Melbourne over the past decade, my expectations were lowered and frankly I would have been content with an honourable four goal loss.

The bounce of the ball to start the first quarter thankfully tore everyone’s attention away from some old guy with a weird face ringing a bell and football finally became the focus of the afternoon.

Only one behind was scored in the first ten minutes, but I wouldn’t describe the game as being a ‘tense struggle’ as you might expect from the low scoring. Geelong seemed to be merely expecting things to happen for them and indeed, when they kicked the game’s opening two goals in two minutes, most of the crowd thought that the predictable script of a Cat’s victory would be fulfilled. The Demons certainly didn’t think that and they answered with their own two goals in two minutes. Melbourne were dominating the clearances and their two tall timbers Gawn and Spencer were marking and tapping everything that came their way.

An eerie quiet descended over most of the Simonds Stadium crowd after three more Melbourne goals made the Cats’ fans start to think the unthinkable – that the Demons could actually win this thing and spoil an otherwise pleasant afternoon.

Bernie Vince was everywhere doing everything. Clearances, tackles, goals, handballs – I am pretty sure he spent some time goal umpiring as well as a short stint selling pies in the Reg Hickey Stand. Nathan Jones was typically unrelenting and Jack Watts even seemed to have shrugged off my curse and played a solid game, though I still find myself holding my breath whenever he gets the ball. The Demons had winners all over the ground and even after Geelong snatched a narrow lead twice during the third quarter, I never really got the feeling that the Cats were going to pinch this game.

The Demons held an 11-point lead at three quarter time and when they opened the final term with four consecutive goals while holding Geelong to three behinds, the game was effectively over. With four minutes to go until the final siren, Nathan Jones ran around the ground holding up various numbers of fingers and shouting out how much time was left, to avoid a repeat of the previous week’s heartbreak final minute loss to the Saints. I could actually hear him from where I was sitting, so quiet were the Geelong fans, who mostly sat in disbelief, patiently waiting for the siren and a final respectful tribute to Corey Enright.

The small pockets of Demons supporters who had been brave enough to make the trip to the Cattery were rewarded with a conclusive 24 point win and It’s a Grand Old Flag was sung with much gusto if not volume.

So where to now for these two teams? Surely the Demons are on the rise after many frustrating years of pain, and after a solid decade of success, the Cats are facing a rebuild.

Good luck with that, Geelong.

 

Melbourne       5.2       7.3       13.4     18.5     (113)

Geelong           3.1       6.4       11.5     13.11   (97)

GOALS  Melbourne: J Garlett 4; A Neal-Bullen 3, B Vince 2, J Howe 2, M Jones 2, B Stretch, D Tyson, J Spencer, M Gawn, N Jones.

Geelong: D Lang 2, S Johnson 2, S Kersten 2, S Motlop 2, T Hawkins 2, C Guthrie, J Selwood, J Walker.

BEST    Melbourne: Vince, Gawn, N Jones, Viney, Brayshaw, Dunn, Garlett.

Geelong: Motlop, The one with the long sleeves, The very tall fast one, The one from the Gold Coast and the one who (allegedly) bought cocaine.

UMPIRES          Donlon, Pannell, Stephens.     CROWD 28,007

OUR VOTES      B Vince (3), M Gawn (2), J Viney (1)

BROWNLOW

Comments

  1. Nice work Rusty. This game is further proof that season 2015 makes no sense. The way the fixture is seeded makes it almost impossible to know where your team is at. Unless you lose at home to a team below you on the ladder.

    The Dees were marvelous. Beat the Cats in all aspects of the game. I was (am) really dirty on the Geelong players for not getting over the line for Enright. Unforgivable in my book.

    I also think that this season, more than any I can remember, is about “timing”. WHEN you play certain opposition matters more so than WHO you play on any given weekend. The theory is that most teams can only stay “up” for about a month.

    The Dees need to back it up when they next play.

  2. Very enjoyable read, Rusty, and well done on you having the restraint not to wish Paul Roos “good luck” given your parallel experiences in 1997 and 2009. Perhaps Roosy will take your Demons to the “promised land” of finals in 2016.
    Great point you make, Dips, about the timing of certain fixtures. I think Round 1 had six of last year’s top eight matched against each other, allowing some of the “lesser lights” a chance to get early wins on the board.

  3. E.regnans says

    Well earned Rusty.
    N Jones and B Vince could shift a few pies between them, I’d say.
    Thoughtful & judicious application of your third curse.

  4. aussie80s says

    Well done on getting one of the 200 seats made available for Melbourne supporters. These are the sort of games where I always feel pleased for the loyal supporters of struggling clubs who stick by their team no matter what.

  5. Kardinia Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Dees, In the three decades i followed Geelong, the only times i recall the Dees saluting were 1971, 1972, 1983 and 1988. Subsequently the Dees won there in 2006, then gate crashed Corey Enrights party last Sunday.

    Credit where it’s due, with Melbourne clearly wanting to win more than the home side. For the Cats supporters you can at least save some money this year,as you won’t need to worry about finals tickets in 2015.

    Glen!

  6. Matt Watson says

    One of my biggest gripes is when a mediocre team without any chance of playing finals elevates themselves and actually wins.
    It’s good for footy but when it happens to North I hate it.
    A psychologist could educate as as to why and how it happens, and what affects both teams when one side elevates and the other crumples.
    Shocking…

  7. David Lloyd says

    I’ve thought a lot over the last few years about the Demon curse. Was it Norm Smith who put a curse on after being sacked?

    Think about it: Stynes and Sean White both passed away.
    Bailey gone, Neale Daniher terminal.
    Broadbent swept away in a tsunami.
    Schwartz, Lyon and Tingay, our 3 best players since the golden era, crippled by injuries.

  8. grapevine says

    Such a joy to watch the Dees hard at the footy for 4 quarters. Brayshaw looks like being a ripper for years to come. Amazing what transpires when your team kicks straight.

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