Round 12 – Geelong v Melbourne: Purgatory. It’s a Little Detour.

Paulie – You didn’t go to hell. You went to purgatory, my friend.

Christopher – I forgot about purgatory.

Paulie – It’s a little detour on the way to paradise.

The Sopranos.


It’s been five days since the Cats lost to the Dees. Five days. And it still burns. It burns because this abomination occurred on our own dung heap. And it occurred on a weekend when I figured that the Cats would pull out a big performance to celebrate the great C. Enright’s 300th.


This wasn’t supposed to happen. Vince and Jones and a tall skinny bloke called Gawn ripped the heart out of the Cats. Who on earth is Gawn? The young kid called Brayshaw made us look pedestrian. He could be a real beauty this fella. Tough as Selwood’s head and skilful to boot. Add the livewire Garlett and another brute called Viney and the Dees have a decent combination building.



So where are the Cats at? Never mind about wins over Collingwood and Port, this game against Melbourne was the defining game of 2015 for Geelong. The one we had to win. The one that would swing the ledger into the positive. The boys blew it. Pure and simple. Or did they? Perhaps finishing low on the ladder is a good thing? What is the truth? How do I find it?



Many years ago, December 1987 to be precise, I was fortunate enough to visit Israel. This is a remarkable country. Jerusalem in particular is extraordinary. I fell in love with the place. It was edgy, fast, noisy, dripping with history, and quite magnificent to look at. I stayed in an old Arab house in the Muslim quarter of the old city that had been converted into a pension. The old city of Jerusalem is only about one square kilometre and is divided up into the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter. It is quite astonishing.



One morning I decided to follow The Way of the Cross, a route that purports to follow the steps that Jesus took on his way to crucifixion. It starts at the Mount of Olives, follows Via Dolorosa and ends at Mount Calvary (which these days is actually inside the city walls and is no more than a slight rise in the ground level). The Church of the Holy Sepulcher sits on the site of Calvary.


As I made my way through the city gates from the Mount of Olives and onto the Via Dolorosa I stood for a while and marvelled at where I was and what I was doing. There was a voice to my right.


“Are you lost?”


A tiny nun stood in the doorway of a humble looking stone Chapel.


“No” I said, “No I’m not lost I’m just overawed.”


“Come with me” she said, “Come” and waved me into the Chapel. “I will show you something remarkable.”


We walked to the rear of the Chapel and began descending some curved metal stairs. They went down and down and down into the darkness. The dear old nun was in no hurry. Finally we reached the bottom and found ourselves standing on some beautifully worn, smooth stones that obviously, at some point in time, formed a section of a pathway.


“Touch the stones” she said.


I bent over. They were cool and silky to the touch, almost soft on the skin.


“These are the Roman stones” she said. “If you believe, this is where Jesus walked, not up there where all the tourists are.”


It was an exceptionally powerful moment, delivered by a fragile, wizened nun deep under the city’s surface.


“To find the truth” she said, “sometimes you need to get away from all the noise.”


Yes indeed. The noise. The noise of a football season can be deafening. It submerges the truth about one’s team. Commentators, experts, radio interviews, TV reports, blogs; they are noise for the sake of noise. They exist so they can exist; to fill space, to take up time, to consume the consumer, and to confuse. But none provides the truth. Only deep contemplation allows the truth to emerge. I have indulged in that throughout this week.


The truth for Geelong is that we are in purgatory. That place where the next flag is impossible to see and where the list is still strong enough to hold the middle ground. No man’s land. The lost world. The bloody boondocks!

But footballing paradise is out there. Somewhere.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Dips every negative has a positive. In this loss it means Cat supporters can banish illusions about a glorious finish to 2015, and instead of forking out their hard earned on finals tickets, the money can be spent on Xmas presents for the kiddies or something else more useful.


  2. Trucker Slim says

    Another top notch story Mr Dips. Love that you found a way to combine walking the true path of enlightenment with the plight of Geelong. Cheers

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Very philosophical,Dips Stanley was a huge loss he dominated against Port and was just getting some consistency in to his game.Dips if the cats pick up Dangerfield it completely changes things again combining with Selwood would be frightening

  4. The Wrap says

    “Come with me” she said, “Come” and waved me into the Chapel. “I will show you something remarkable.”

    They could be the opening lines of a novel Dips.

    But don’t give up your day job just yet. The Cats need to pay off the new stand and the lights.

  5. Thanks Dips.

    Enjoyed how you combined footy and your journey to Israel. As Boris’s former PE teacher I was disappointed by the lack of regard on his 300th. Especially after learning he was only the third Cat to reach this! And to think I thought he’d be a better leggie.

    Has there ever been a mafia story that didn’t feature a character called Paulie?

  6. The Wrap says

    C’mon Mickey, it was all too much about Boris. The Cats didn’t see The Dees coming as it was. Imagine if they’d turned on half a dozen smoke machines.

  7. Tony Robb says

    Love your work Dips. Remember that “god” once walked on the the turf at Kadinia Park. Perhaps the new digs and have created a false noise and and a false belief of being all powerful.

  8. Wonderful story DIps. The footy doesn’t matter. You Cats have had longer in Paradise in the last decade than a dozen suicide bombers.
    I reckon the dumbest comment in footy is the “we’ll have a big one for XXXX”. Almost guarantees a shit performance.
    Look at the Swans celebration of the 10th anniversary of their 2005 flag last night (not that I’m bitter, mind).
    The Swans got what they deserved thanks to their “dickheads only” recruiting policy of recent years.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    We’re all looking for that football paradise out there somewhere. Great stuff Dips.

  10. Extremely moving piece, Dips.
    You got me thinking. Thanks.

  11. Love the comments. Thanks Knackers. I have another wonderful memory of Jerusalem: running across the rooftops of the old city with some little Muslim kids whilst being watched by Israeli soldiers carrying AK47s. For another day.

    Were any AFL games played over the weekend?

  12. Lucky you were a Stawell Gift placegetter Dips. Quick enough to dodge the bullets.

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