Round 2 – GWS v Geelong: Planes, Buses and Automobiles

Greater Western Sydney v Geelong

1.10pm, Sunday April 3

Startrack Oval, Canberra

Glen Potter

Gifts. We give them. We receive them. They are generally thoughtful. No matter what, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?


“Happy birthday!”, I heard echo around the lounge room. A neatly wrapped envelope was prised from its paper. Airline ticket. “Hmmm, this looks alright,” I thought. Avalon to Sydney. Beauty! The adjoining information bared the detail of a return flight to Sydney – April 3, to see Greater Western Sydney v. Geelong. Ripper! A day-trip, interstate to see the Cats. Then it hit me like a Mumford shirt-front. The venue. My conscience leaked the truth internally before I let it slip it from my mouth to a doting family. “The game’s in bloody Canberra!” Bloody hell! The fixture clearly stated GWS v. Geelong (SO). So, (SO) was Startrack Oval – Canberra! For a fleeting moment I’d hoped (SO) was Spotless Oval. Alas, no. So, I was in a spot of bother.


It was a hard conversation with my loving, thoughtful, family. All the hoopla and excitement about a trip to see the Cats should’ve been the right tonic for a wonderful and thoughtful gift. I was met with remorse, apologies, sorrow and possible solutions. “Change the flight?” No, the cost to change the flight gets into cricket-score prices, the kind you’d get on an Adelaide Oval-belter. “Fly from Sydney to Canberra and back?” No, the schedule was too tight, and again too expensive. I fetched a rail timetable, aiming to conspire planes, trains and automobiles into my itinerary, but could not seem to make a suitable connection. “Just right it off and we’ll buy you another trip later on in the season.” No way! I was determined to make this work. A bus? The ‘Dishlickers’ bus company ran many daily services from Sydney to Canberra. Hmmm. The times suited. I could to and fro from Canberra and feasibly maintain the status of my airline booking. “But it’s three hours on a bus, there and back, plus your return flight, plus driving to and from the airport.” What better way to see two states and a territory in one day? Done. So it was planes, buses and automobiles.


4am was a nasty time to rise. I arrived at Avalon. The flight was smooth. I alighted and within the hour boarded a Canberra-bound bus, with nary a sole in sight. Recliner. Doze. I stirred near Goulburn, with my iPod wailing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Lodi. I enjoyed the apt reference: I rode in on a Greyhound, I’ll be walking out if I go. The irony wasn’t lost on me. Surely I wouldn’t be stuck in the national capital.


I like Canberra. It’s what I think eastern-bloc European cities aspire to be like: clean, green, spacious, with a hint of socialism. All that public money funnelled into architectural uniformity. Lovely. At the Manuka Oval admission gate, a lady adorned in a Crows scarf ushered forward to offer her spare ticket to me. I offered her a nominal amount, as goodwill. She gazed at my blue and white apparel, politely declined, but sneakily suggested a Giants’ win would more be to her liking. I fumbled for a quick response but she shot through.


Canberra was bathed in sunshine. The mercury had it in the mid-twenties but that sun was searing. The Giants entered the oval as one as their rousing eastern-bloc European song trumpeted through Manuka. The orange and charcoal glistened. The opening foray was fairly even. Geelong arrested control across the ground but just couldn’t convert. Conversion. The gentle, sociable Canberra crowd was littered with the odd Brumbies’ top or Raiders’ cap. The Giants led by 5 points over a Cats’ outfit that knew it should’ve been three goals up. I made a note to myself, “Keep an eye on Griffin, please”.


It would be too simplistic to suggest that the Giants, with their potent depth of young talent, could only thrive on perfect, dry conditions, which suited their precision kicking. That their meticulously conditioned-understanding of the modern game would be an easy concession that they should be better than Geelong. Well, in the second quarter, they were better than Cats, and for all the aforementioned reasons and more. They were superb. The Cats could rarely lay a hand on the ball at a stoppage. The Giants imposed themselves on the game and ran at will. And boy, they surged. The difference at half-time was softened by a couple of late reprieves to the Cats. Giants by 15. Please watch Greene, and Scully…


Frustrated about the Cats lack of intensity, I assumed Chris Scott would have ‘addressed the situation’ at the long break. Surely the bigger-bodied Cats would start to intimidate these upstarts and right the course in the third term? How wrong was that view? The Giants continually smashed the Cats at stoppages and amounted a game-high 37-point lead, which was stripped to 24 points at the last change. Shane Mumford executed a marvellous bone-crunching tackle that stopped Mitch Duncan – and the Cats – in his tracks. Will Hoskin-Elliot soared to new heights with a thrilling screamer. The Catters were in tatters. Watch out for Mumford! If only he was still in the hoops.


The game-style in the last quarter shifted from a free-flowing, clinical brand, to a dour struggle. Running legs were going up and down on the one spot like pumping pistons. Leg weary after a brutal running game for three quarters, the Giants began to stagger. The Cats got a sniff. They capitalised on skill-error turnovers. Rhys Stanley clunked a strong mark and duly converted. Tom Hawkins sank the boot into a ball tumbling on the ground before him from around 55 metres out and benefitted from a nice rub of the green. The Cats kept moving forward but couldn’t still stymie the six-point deficit. Fans of Daniel Menzel scowled when Kersten failed to equalize at the 18-minute mark. The Cats were surging but not goaling. Their momentum was strong but now waning. Poor decision-making and a flimsy turnover saw the ball catapulted the other way. The Giants forced the Cats to defend. Former darling of the Cats’ faithful, Steve Johnson, the joker of the Giants pack, could’ve sealed the Cats fate, but he kindly chose to kick his set shot from front-on. He steered it left. Oh how we’d seen him kick those across his body.


Time ran out. Reviews would show the Cats lacked competitiveness out of the middle, and around much of the ground for that matter; for lack of pace; and the ability to convert when it counted. The Giants were giant-killers. They claimed victory over their more-fancied opponents with merciless running and efficient ball movement. Watch-out for this mob, they can play.


Greater Western Sydney      13-11-89

Geelong                                         11-10-76



GWS    R. Griffin, S. Mumford, T. Scully, T. Greene, S. Johnson.

Geel     C. Guthrie, A. Mackie, T. Hawkins, M. Blicavs.



GWS    R. Griffin, D. Smith, S. Johnson 2, N. Wilson, S. Coniglio, D. Shiel, T. Scully, S. Mumford, W. Hoskin-Elliot, R. Lobb 1.

Geel     T. Hawkins 3, M. Blicavs, R. Stanley 2, D. Lang, L. McCarthy, T. Caddy, C. Gregson 1.


Votes  R. Griffin (3), S. Mumford (2), T. Scully (1).


Umpires M. Stevic, C. Fleer, A. Mitchell.


Crowd 13,656.

About Glen Potter

Footy tragic since attending my first game in 1978. Love the Cats but will happily watch footy - anywhere, anytime. Played junior footy with David Schwarz and Peter Berbekov and between the three of us, we've played 225 AFL games. Love playing and coaching cricket and proudly mankaded a cheating non-striker one day many years ago.


  1. Mick Jeffrey says

    Great to see that I’m not the only one who often makes simple trips overly complicated!

  2. jan courtin says

    Was the 4am start and presumably late finish worth it Glen? Nice story.

  3. Glen Potter says

    Despite the loss, Jan, I quite enjoyed the trip. Arrived home at midnight. Slept till midday!

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic write up Glen, glad for your family that you were able to get to Canberra!

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