Round 2 – GWS v Geelong: Cats, Cars and the Commercial Hotel

In between questionable Grand Final efforts Leon Davis was once asked by a journalist if, after his stint at Collingwood, he would return to play for Perth in the WAFL.


“Nah mate! Railways in Northam!” was his enthusiastic reply. A player then dazzling the Pies faithful still with his home town at the beginning of the WA wheatbelt in his heart.


I didn’t think I’d see Neon Leon in Northam but I was expected to see the Cats take on the Giants on the big screen at the Commercial Hotel. The over century old Commercial Hotel has a reputation with Perth Cats for being a haven for all things Geelong over the years with many making the effort to visit the place. I had been up in Kalgoorlie for the weekend at a Sports History Forum listening to talks on the Kalgoorlie Racing Museum by local legend Noel Gerrard, fellow Almanacker Les Everitt’s tragic story about the Scullin brothers and MLC Robyn McSweeney plugging her new book on her rather Citizen Kane -like great grandfather (if CK was a horse trainer) Albert Cockram King. Dropping in to Northam would be easy on the way back from Kal being able to finally check out the Commercial and break up the long journey home.


After a very early start I made it to Northam with a bit of time before bouncedown but unfortunately I hadn’t factored in the fact Northam had their biggest event of the year on the same day called ‘The Flying Fifty’. The popular day featured beautiful old roadsters, muscle cars and even go-go mobiles among others, roaring around the streets. With this classic car event on it also meant the street circuit ran through the town with the Commercial isolated in the midfield. Trying to find a place to cross meant I ate up what spare time I had. Then when finding a crossing point I had to wait for a race to finish which ate up a lot of the first quarter. I waited paitently following the game on my phone and cursing what seems like a lot of missed opportunities to the Cats with the Commercial within view; its big Carlton Draught sign almost mocking me in the heat. It was as if the pub was a castle isolated by a bitumen moat inhabited by squandered nest eggs on wheels.


Finally, a race was over and I was allowed to cross making a bee-line for the old pub getting there for the start of the second quarter. Pint, counter meal, TV, sorted. The Cats by the second quarter were being overrun by the Giants; getting smashed in the clearances and chasing shadows looking more like the 2015 horror show, rather than the inspirational 2016 team of last week. Then the game was cracked open when Henderson wasn’t given a free, and Geelong runner Nigel Lappin giving the umpire a gob full resulting in two goals for the Giants. The Cats were down by 15 at half time.


During the break I introduce myself to Bob who is the owner of the Commercial. He treats the main dining room with the big screen as his personal lounge with bare feet up on a foot stool reclining on a large couch up front, eating a bit of stolen roast meat from the kitchen in what seems like a typical Sunday afternoon. Bob is a believer in the usual holy trinity of beliefs of the more pessemistic Geelong Supporter:


-Chris Scott is overated as a coach (The Father)

-Tom Hawkins is an overated pretty boy as a player (The Son)

-We should never have got rid of Chappy/Stevie J. (The Holy Ghost)


In the third quarter we look slow, second guess everything and let the Giants get on top in every department; completely intimidating a much more mature Cats’ side but they can’t break through for a goal to stretch the lead despite never letting the visitors cross halfway. Then a huge turning point comes when Mitch Duncan is brutally laid out with a bump by ex-Cat and sausage king Shane Mumford, that would probably feel the same as being hit by one of the muscle cars roaring around Northam that afternoon. The hit was as legit as Duncan’s against Hodge the week before and Dunc is slow to get up. Dermie and the rest of the GWS supporters club calling the game (does the AFL tell them to talk up the expansion teams perhaps?) are adamant Duncan will not return from the hit, saying that no one ever returns from something like that; perhaps hinting that only he could return from that kind of hit; especially in a late eighties Grand Final.


After Duncan goes off, the Cats lose shape and the Giants slam through goals after being inspired by a rampant bullying Mummy and a wonderful mark by Hoskin-Elliot. The lead is out to 36 points when who else but Stevie J kicks one, giving the supporters behind the goal some lip from distance and really rubbing it in as the Cats arrive at their nadir. The Cats look like they will be swamped by 10 goals but they rally and start pegging the lead back; with Lincoln McCarthy standing tall with a running goal. Caddy and Gregson also slot one each to make it 24 points and gettable, but in no way deserved for the Cats.


In the final quarter it is a tight start as the older Cats start to exert influence, but it takes a brilliant bit of opportunism by Hawkins to get the first goal soccering the ball through from outside 50. Will this lift the Cats? Will this bring Bob around to accept Tommy? The Cats now start getting the clearances and Hawkins has another to make it 12 points after he takes a trademark  contested mark.


“About bloody time he did something!” comes from Bob on the couch.


The Cats press again with Mackie and Enright coming off half back like it’s a 2007 highlights DVD. The fragile big man Rhys Stanley (who had managed to whack a Giants player in the third term) takes another big grab and converts to have it to 6 points and the visitors have all the momentum. The Giants now look like they’re back on the G on Easter Saturday against the Dees again. The home side mistime passes and turn the ball over at an Auskick-like level. The Cats are rampant and again get a mark inside 50 with the much maligned Shane Kersten lining up to put the Cats in front. He misses, giving idiots on forums and Facebook comments sections across the web a chance to stick the digital boot in to the young West Australian once again.


The Cats persist and give the Giants the same time on the ball afforded to them for the first two thirds of the game. The Cats break through the middle of the ground with Stanley in an excellent position but the handball from Gregson isn’t forthcoming, taking the equally right option of running in on goal, but his kick goes agonisingly wide and the Giants still lead by less than a goal.


The Giants after this gain some composure rather than showing the calmness of a panicking extra from a Godzilla film. The Cats now cannot get the ball out of their defensive 50 with the Giants exerting influence at stoppages and even Dangerfield who has had numerous but ineffective possessions is caught holding the ball when trying to desperately break the lines late in the game. The ball again and again comes in to the Giants’ 50 and Stevie J marks straight in front. Why would the game have to end like this. The Cats would prefer a 70 point loss rather than Stevie being forced to kick the goal to prove his commitment to his new gang. I try to think of all the times he missed sitters, all the times he cost us through pure arrogance or some other deadly sin. He somehow misses from some 15 in front. Love rekindled.


The Cats live again but cannot break out with Griffen marking on the edge of 50. His monster kick seals the game for the Giants and they are home by 13 points. Bob has the big screen off within seconds of the game at the Commercial and mutters something about it all being typical. The bar maid jokes he’ll ban all footy talk in the pub for the week after a loss like that.


Disappointing for Geelong after such a tremendous effort against the Hawks the week before. We are always a bit slow after an Easter Monday game but how do you explain the Premiers smashing the Eagles later in the day when they were in the same game six days ago. Frustrating that it was more of Geelong circa 2015 rather than Geelong circa Easter Monday 2016 but the Giants came to win and showed that they will take scalps no matter who you are if you are a little bit off. After all, they beat the Hawks at Spotless last season. Ryan Griffen is fantastic for the Giants and Mumford, while not the best, monstered his old side when the game was up for grabs in the third quarter.


We move on. Once I find a way across the race track again I’m off down the hill and home to Bassendean. Hopefully the next trip Northam will be a happier one with less cars and Bob recanting on his views of the holy trinity.



About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.


  1. Nice work Dennis. Losses like this will haunt the Cats.

    Love the holy trinity, but not sure I agree with “The Son”

  2. Dennis Gedling says

    I don’t really agree either but some fans that still think we can ‘turn it on’ a la 2007-11 have their high standards for some players.

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