Round 22 – Geelong v Collingwood: A night of insults as the season and era end with a whimper – is Chris Scott a better politician or coach?


A Cat in the Wry.


Periodically, I go through a phase of sending emails to the Geelong Cats: some are probably more annoying and vacuous than others, but mostly they attempt encouragement. Though, the written word can be wrought with unintended ambiguity and tones. I don’t think anyone reads them, but I feel better – unconditional communicating. Anyway, it’s old technology now with Twitter and Facebook seemingly the preferred social mediums.


I sent an email last week titled: keep Steve, get rid of silly handball.


Of course, I was referring to Steve Johnson. It was intentionally wry. We usually treat our players well, but I didn’t want us to do a Chappie with Stevie.


As for the handball theme – it’s not a new one. Nor are doubts about our tendency to go sideways and backwards when direct play was the first and best option. Go forwards Cats!


Then came Friday night. Early in the week I was tipping Pies, but by week’s end had convinced myself we had more to play for and could withstand their attempt to atone for the dismal outing against the Tiges.


Though, I had pretty much ruled out finals contention. Things weren’t falling into place. Even Port beating Hawthorn meant the Eagles would be less motivated against the Crows. Still, tough draw and all, we remained in with a shot in the penultimate round.


A bleak night and an empty ‘G taunted us. Talk about winter of discontent. White shorts haunted like an apparition. Home game shome game.


I was with two Collingwood fans who were even less optimistic than me. Though to borrow from Chris Scott it would be churlish to say we weren’t having a good time.


202, mostly inappropriate, handballs later and I was absolutely certain about cyber black holes consuming unconsidered electronic messages. Though, habitual handball was symptomatic of our defeat, not the cause of it.


It seemed a pattern has emerged – being unprepared for crucial encounters at the pointy end of the season, typically accompanied by a wintry night at the ‘G in front of a sparse crowd.


Putting a silver lining on dark clouds was Dan Menzel who knew how precious an opportunity it was to be out there. He lit up the night.


I hope we do give Steve Johnson another year. He’s still playing well enough despite the relentless media questioning. It could be unwise to put too much stock in Menzel now. Every game for him is a bonus. At best he will likely need constant management. Having Johnson around will lesson on-field pressure.


What can I say about the Pies? They were on song, sowed doubts early and forced us to rush possession. Phil and Ralph were marginally cheered by the belated resurgence and left before the final siren.


Pie fans were gracious in victory. They booed Steve Johnson with Goodes-like intensity, but a different prejudice. Joffa was a tosser trying to rehash ancient stereotypes. One gentleman Pie nearby, for no apparent reason other than he felt like it, raised a finger and yelled, “Piss off Geelong!” Perhaps the headphones he wore distorted his perception of the volume of his voice. Though he proceeded to loudly clap every Geelong mistake, and there were quite a few, but thankfully this grave-dancing was late in the game.


Our epitaph was five years in the writing, but it’s now officially the end of the era. Yeah, I know – platitudes – ‘you’ve had a good run, won three flags’ etc. All that is true and great, but doesn’t mean from then-after you’re happy to lose.


I’m having some trouble deciding about Chris Scott. Is he a politician, a diplomat or a coach and to what degrees? No doubt the former two attributes are present in most coaches, but just sometimes I’d like him to be less measured. That he doesn’t address players after the game is a little surprising.


A flag and finals bought time, but have the media been letting him off the hook occasionally, beguiled by right words, preoccupied with an ageing list and writing dynasty’s end? Tactically, Chris’ pressers are unparalleled.


In fairness, it’s a difficult task balancing a youth policy with veteran departures and fans’ expectations. In many ways he was on a hiding to nothing. This year we played promising footy that supported transition theory, bookended by less encouraging efforts and an unhappy ending.


The jury is still out. Next year should tell. Any negative perceptions go out the door following success.


In the meantime, this week is the deadest of dead rubbers. The highlight will be sending-off retiring champions and trying to ignore the Ady’s Paddy-thon.


Maybe Kelly and Stokesy have more in the tank, but untimely injuries didn’t help their cause – ditto Chappie.


But let’s not forget, a brilliant team has left behind a legacy of memories and a stack of DVDs for Cats fans to enjoy should respite be needed; a plethora of high scoring, fast-paced, tough footy with a never-dead attitude. Time for reflection and accolades rather than death notices.


Perhaps speculation proves reliable and Paddy, Sel the Younger, and Lachie hop on board and join the young guns and remaining vets.


The era is dead! Long live the era!




About Paul Spinks

I have had writing published and performed in various mediums, though not always with the luxury of a deadline. Below are links to some pieces published beyond this great site.


  1. Cat from the Country says

    In past years I had great rapport with some guy who worked there. We would send emails back and forth and fix the ills of footy and the Cats.
    Then he left!
    The next one to answer an email was cold. No empathy so no further contact. I felt as if I was missing an arm.

    Recently I sent a letter via email to Chris Scott asking if he had a Plan B and some other comments – nothing nasty.
    I asked for a relpy and received a written letter with not too much in it. Had not answered my direct questions.

    Just now I have been away and could not do the survey they wanted in the time and I had my say about my seat relocation while the redevelopment occurs and Ali replied to that one.
    So I do know that emails are read.

  2. Paul – C. Scott is an interesting one. In my view his coaching this year has been reasonable. He actually seemed to construct some good strategies when injury took a toll (Blicavs as second up in the ruck being an example). He’s an impressive speaker; clear thinker, logical, intelligent. But he is not a classic strategist. He’s a bit “crash or crash through”. Not the sort of bloke who will come up with a game plan to change the game. Perhaps an adopter rather than adapter. But I like his passion. I think he’s smart enough to grow in the position and may end up a respected coach. Whether or not he can get the Cats to another flag is probably debateable.

  3. Paul Spinks says

    Cat – well done for establishing a connection with the club, and getting a letter from the coach. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a reply – though would’ve liked to have seen us turn up with more urgency on Friday night – and to keep Steve.

    Dips – Chris Scott is certainly a clear thinker – mind like a steel trap. Not entirely sure if that always translates to motivating the players at crucial times. He shows passion in the coaches’ box, but can’t really comment on what happens behind closed doors. And he’s just one coach among several. Though, if they’re going to be ‘brutal’ about player departures then perhaps that lens needs to be turned on them as well, in light of our poor season finishes? Unless the latter is part of the plan? I tend not to see strategies so much as attitude – are the players alert, playing direct, playing smart, playing for each other, do they want to chase and harrass etc. The Glass half full view is that Chris got us a flag and into the finals every year until now. This year turned out better than it looked after round 2. And we have had a lot of injuries, especially to ruck stocks as you suggest. The loss to Melbourne was probably the most telling. Next year will be interesting.


  4. It would be nice to clarify the rationale behind the departure of Stevie J. He’s the second highest goal kicker this year, the major contributor in score assists in the second half of the year, so why is he departing. Is he too undisciplined, the ‘best trade bait’, or something else the punters aren’t aware of ? He’s been a great contributor to Geelong. I am old fashioned, very, but I never like seeing club greats playing a meaningless final season(s) elsewhere. It might be good for the players bank balance, but I tend to still think of the old boxing adage: You only remember a boxers last fight.

    Adrian Gallagher at North Melbourne, Laurie Sandilands at Collingwood, Richard Osborne in Sydney, James Podsiadly in Adelaide,, hardly the finish to their great careers.


  5. Paul Spinks says

    Hi, Glen: I heard Steven Hocking being interviewed on ABC radio. He just said discussions had been going on for a couple of months. He seemed to be feeling the heat and directed a few barbs at Johnson. He also implied supporters were being selective by not caring as much about Kelly and Stokes. But that’s a bit simplistic – the situations aren’t quite the same. In any case the club is being selective.

    It would be great if the club gave a detailed account of it’s reasoning . Reading between the lines it appears they are creating space to bring in new players. One thing overlooked is that Johnson etc effectively took pay cuts in the past in exchange for team and club success.

    But yesterday was a great celebration so maybe they will be satisfied with that and not want to play on elsewhere. I only saw the second half, but it was a sensational – up there with the best footy experiences.

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