Round 3 – Geelong v Hawthorn: From the Ponsford Stand.


Footy in the ‘almost’ post-covid era is different. Seats for members needed to be booked, a lottery in itself, tickets only on your phone, entry only by the gate designated on your ticket, check in apps, another check in to go to the bar, and regular reminders to keep a cricket bat’s length apart! But, with fifty thousand people roaring at the MCG it was great to be back at the footy. I’ve been to the last ten Easter Monday games between the Cats and the Hawks: they promise much regardless of relative ladder positions, and they just keep delivering: drama, excitement, tension and classic finishes.


Footy has changed this season: it’s free-flowing, high-scoring, bags of goals, entertainment and excitement, yet, today’s game reverted to 2020-style footy, at least for the first three quarters. The Cats were intent on retaining possession, chipping the ball around, short kicks, backward and sideways kicks, denying Hawthorn the ball but also coming unstuck more than once and turning the ball over for Hawthorn to goal.


Accordingly it was low-scoring and somewhat uninspiring. Geelong held a comfortable lead, but never a safe lead. At ¾ time my mate Darlow said, “We shouldn’t lose from here”. I agreed, but I think we both knew there was a chance Hawthorn would find another gear in the last quarter and that’s exactly what happened. The Hawks came with a rush and kicked the first two goals. They had genuine momentum, the Hawthorn crowd were roaring, the deficit was 12 points and the Hawks were inside their forward 50 again… The Geelong crowd were collectively holding their breath and clenching their butt-cheeks when Razor Ray paid a dubious free for deliberate with 7 minutes to go. Impey, who along with Jiath cut us to ribbons running off the half-back line all day, chipped to Howe. Howe centred the ball looking for Burgoyne. Then came the moment that swung the game, one of the most genuinely exciting things I’ve ever seen at the footy. Enter the unlikely hero, Jack Henry, with speedy side-kick Jordan Clark, and a cameo role from everyone’s favourite full-forward, Tom Hawkins. Spotting the danger, Henry somehow made up the ground to spoil, then with superb balance and presence of mind, gathered the ball and took off. With nothing but 100metres of MCG turf in front of him Jack dodged three Hawks, took a bounce, and ran. The Cats crowd rose as one and roared. Help arrived in the shape of Clark. Jack dished off the ball, and kept running. Jordan found Tomahawk with a long hand-ball, and kept running. Hawk looped another long hand-ball over the desperate Hawk defender, into the path of Henry who again gathered before sending one final hand-pass to Clark who dashed into the goal square and slammed through a much-needed goal. The noise inside the ground at that moment was deafening, matched only by the excitement of the fans in blue and white. It turned out to be the crucial match-winning goal because the Hawks kept coming and cut our lead to 4 points with three minutes left.


The final minutes were so tense that Darlow’s wife Dana’s heart-rate hit 120 according to her fitbit! There were Geelong heroes all over the ground but special mention must be made of Joel Selwood and Tom Atkins as the Cats fought desperately to hold on in the final few minutes.


Cam Guthrie was superb all day and in the absence of Danger has become the Cats’ key midfield bull. Mitch Duncan made a great return from injury, notwithstanding a couple of clanger kicks. Stanley was at his best winning clearances from centre-bounces. Miers redeemed himself after a run of poor form with his best game for a long time and Jordan Clark grabbed his opportunity after a disappointing 2020. Jack Henry moved to the forward line after half time and kicked a couple of handy goals. The backline held up pretty well with Stewart and Henderson strong in the air and Tuohy clearing the danger area repeatedly. Max Holmes did well on debut and Parfitt had a good game in the middle. Frank the Tank Evans was subbed out in the first quarter which brought Constable into the game. There is some doubt about his ability to run out a full game, he was good in the first half but then faded out of the game. Higgins did his hamstring which left Geelong a man down in rotations which may have contributed to the Hawks getting a run-on in the last term. The pantomime moments came whenever Isaac Smith got the ball and the Hawthorn crowd started booing. The Cats’ faithful, having taken him into their hearts after last week’s game-winning goal v Brisbane, came to his defence and clapped and cheered to counter the boos.


By 2021 standards it wasn’t a great game, but it was another stirring chapter in the narrative of the epic Cats v Hawks rivalry.



Best players: Guthrie, Duncan, Miers, Selwood, Clark.



GEELONG         3.3     6.4     9.7     10.9 (69)
HAWTHORN    2.1     3.5     5.7     9.10 (64)


Geelong: Hawkins 2, Henry 2, Parfitt, Tuohy, Blicavs, Constable, Miers, Clark
Hawthorn: Breust 2, Lewis 2, Wingard, McEvoy, Koschitzke, Moore, Brockman


Geelong: Guthrie, Henderson, Duncan, Blicavs, Henry, O’Connor
Hawthorn: Wingard, Jiath, O’Meara, Scrimshaw, Phillips, Shiels


Geelong: Evans (ankle), Higgins (hamstring)
Hawthorn: Nil


Geelong: Constable (replaced Evans)
Hawthorn: O’Brien (unused)


Crowd: 50,030 at MCG


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE



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