Round 2 – Geelong v Fremantle – Now Selling, Stress Free Trips to Kardinia Park

Round 2 – Geelong v Fremantle – Now Selling, Stress Free Trips to Kardinia Park

1.10pm, Sunday 12th April 2015

Simonds Stadium, Geelong

Steven Johnston

This is the fifth time I have made the trip down the highway to G-Town to watch the Dockers take on the Cats at Kardinia Park since I moved to Melbourne in the mid 2000’s. I’ve been there when Freo have been belted from pocket to bench by one of the game’s best ever sides. I remember the accusations of Geelong turning off the hot water to the Freo change rooms on particularly bitterly cold days. I even helped spread those rumours to anyone who would listen. Surely that’s the only way a team including Schammer, Warnock, Dodd, Browne, Hinkley and Thornton could lose?

I’ve been there during weather which makes living at Mawson station seem like an attractive prospect. But I’ve also been there during the Dockers finest hour in 2013 when they got over the Cats in the qualifying final.

And so it was on Sunday that I packed my father and brother into the car for their annual game in Melbourne. Each year they’ll fly across from the west under the pretence of visiting me, but really just to get a taste of footy in Melbourne, or in this case Geelong.

We stopped off and picked up my usual match day buddy, a mate who is deaf in one ear and personally I think he’s been lying to me for the past decade as to which one it is. After all I’m sure he must have gotten sick of my ranting on about the biased umpires, Sandilands and Pav by now.

The trip to the ground is uneventful, the crowd is obviously pro Geelong, but the Dockers fans I do see are happy and not at all nervous. Strangely enough, despite the history of shellackings, I actually enjoy games at Kardinia Park and feel sorry for the likes of Hawthorn, Collingwood and other “big” Victorian clubs that don’t get to come down here anymore. It reminds me of footy back in the day, so much so that you almost expect there to be a gate where you can drive your car in and park up by the fence and you can sit inside in the warmth, eat your pie, and sound the horn for each goal.

The game starts and I am strangely relaxed. This isn’t Geelong as we have known them over the years. There’s no Bartel today and all the players who are still out on the ground from the golden era have lost a few yards of pace. Stevie J is being closely watched and hit hard whenever he touches it. Mackie, Enright, Lonergan, Kelly and Stokes, are all present but not impacting the contest like they used to.

There are faces I can’t match to names – Gregson, Cockatoo, Caddy, Guthrie, Horlin-Smith, Smedts, Bews, Stanley and Lang. There’s no fear in those names, unlike the ones of Ling, Corey, Chapman, Ottens and Scarlett. Sure some of those guys have been gone a few years now but their aura seemed to hang around a while after.

As for Freo, well they just seem to be playing with their own ball at stages, especially Sandilands, Barlow, Mundy and Fyfe. Fyfe and Mundy are just a class above. Fyfe is a bull, but with an aerial ability unmatched by other mid fielders. He hits contests hard and consistently stands up in the tackle. Mundy is just smooth.

There’s run from Pearce and Hill that the Cats can’t match and the backline of Johnson, McPharlin, Spurr, Duffield and Ibbotson are rebounding the attacks consistently. It’s still close at half time, but in the third quarter the Dockers slam on 6 straight goals to end the contest.

You can hear a pin drop in the final term, there are Cats fans leaving 5 minutes in and I’m not sure why, it can’t be to beat the traffic. The Cats have won 46 of the past 50 at this ground and there was a sense of the end of that golden era today, but with the Cats you can never be quite sure.

At the end of the day it’s a good solid win to Freo and another happy trip down the highway to a ground that’s becoming a home away from home for the Dockers. This season is shaping up nicely.

GEELONG 2.2 6.2 8.4 9.6 (60)

FREMANTLE 3.3 7.8 14.9 15.14 (104)


Geelong: Stanley 2, Hawkins 2, Clark 2, Duncan, Guthrie, Horlin-Smith

Fremantle: Fyfe 3, Barlow 3, Hill 2, Pavlich 2, Mayne, Walters, Taberner, Pearce, Ballantyne


  1. Paul Spinks says

    Well done, Steven. Great name too.
    Dockers outmuscled us, and the fortress is being dismantled, but a day at KP can still be good for the spirit regardless of result.

  2. Steve Johnston says

    Thanks Paul, I’ve had more than a few disappointed looks at local aussie rules matches when my mates have told their team that Steve Johnston is coming down to fill in for them and I rock up ….

  3. Nice Steve

    I once vowed never to go to Kardinia Park again.

    Now looking at the real estate section in the Geelong Advertiser for a home close by. Fremantle will surely want to play all Melbourne teams there.

    The Dockers will lead the revival of the Geelong region. It must be time for a rename of the stadium… Pavlich Park? Spurr Stadium if alliteration is still important.

  4. Steve Johnston says

    Hey Lee – Maybe Fyfe’s Field after the weekend, or even Barlow’s Bowl?

    Maybe the locals have mellowed after gorging on a decade of success, but I found it quite congenial down there. A lot of the Cats fans were worried about their lack of pace and mid field. Dangerfield would suit them to a tee.

  5. Steve Johnston says

    Sorry – Les not Lee

  6. Ballantyne’s Brainsnap Bowl? Nah – that would cover half the grounds in the AFL.

  7. Steve Johnston says

    Not sure it was a brain snap (this time), just a poorly executed bump. Hits Taylor on the shoulder then slides up and collects his head.

    Ross Lyon pretty much summed up what he thought of the MRP decision by saying he loves the way Hayden plays.

    He’s the proto-type player you love when he’s in your team but you’d hate if he played for the opposition. Personally I love the little fella.

  8. neilbelford says

    Oh we love KP don’t we Steve – been to em all myself.

  9. If this idea takes off and they then need a really bigfooty ground in Geelong, because there’s a good team to watch every few weeks, then it’s SANDILANDS STADIUM.

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