Round 5 – Hawthorn v Geelong: Cats in their Heaven



There is something pleasant about the Swan St tram to my side of the G and even on a cloudy day the view is good from an unbooked seat, 16k in bay 20 on level 4. Not so good at night, but to deploy Sydney-speak.


I’ve been going to the footy since I was six and the Cats playing Hawthorn has memories of Hobart, the Tigers playing Sandy Bay, who were still – in those simpler days – the Seagulls. Working class Hobart against the Sandy Bay bourgeoisie in an area, which by the fluke of one street, I went to school. At school they had the numbers, but we had the premierships.


We loved the glory days of the first ruck of the three Ps; Powell, Payne, Pascoe (Dennis, Burnie, Mal)  – and when Ian Stewart thrashed Alastair Lord in a state match after only 5 TFL games. Sadly, both the Tigers and the Seagulls were dumped in the great restructure – one of the evils of the modern world – and my deepest condolences to anyone who has been singly or multiply restructured in their workplace as well!


Yet, even more so, the Cats playing the Hawks is about virtue vs vice, except for the few years when under the brilliant coaching of Clarkson, the Hawthorn left-footers looked like they could save the game from the ruling scrum. Even if the rugbyification of the game as in Ted Hopkins term ‘Ugby’ (ugly and rugby) was the one anticipated by Kennedy and others, beginning with hunting in packs. (See also my FA portrait of Ross Lyon with devil’s horns.)


The Cats generally do play something more like footy than many clubs and we had been robbed by Hawthorn in 2008 through their ‘unsociable’ football (translates as thuggish). Further, Hawthorn (the pokies club) do have a president Jeff Kennett who has won the Most Stupid Presidents’ Remark of 2019 by a long shot ‘Sticks and stones break my bones’ etc. Ask Eddie Betts, ask Tayla Harris, ask those who can’t be asked, who took their lives after bullying. But then Tandberg did draw the now president of the Pokies Club, as in their song ‘We’re a Pokies Club at Hawthorn…’ with his foot in his mouth. And Eddie McToorak in black and white leads in the related Most Stupid Media Commentator Remark of 2019 competition.


It was a good match in any terms with 30 goals in total and it fitted my new desideratum – I only feel comfortable when we are 20 points up. After a childhood of depressed Sundays, even while watching Channel 6’s local World of Sport, eating the roast and getting ready for the afternoon drive, I want happiness and that doesn’t mean close games, except when I go to the ‘G’ or to the Many Names Stadium as a theatregoer.


After a slow start, when Geelong supporters started to question Ratugolea, although not loudly, as he still doesn’t hold all his marks, the anxiety retreated as we moved to a surprising, unwarranted, quarter time one point lead.


By half-time, with the sometimes one-two man defence of Blicavs and Stewart, the Cats had gone out to a lead of 17 points and young Gazza already had his first goal and was a magical force around the 50M line.


His mark in the second quarter was an echo of Gary Ablett Sr’s great mark also taken near goal. As Anna Pavlou wrote, capturing that moment (see the Almanac).


‘Ablettttt…..’ we murmur in unison, we Geelong believers.


He rises from behind, floating, hanging, collecting.


It is his Sherrin.


‘Ablettt….’ we screamed.


While we appreciate our own spiritual moments, without endorsing religion, it was not all one way as with all the Easter Monday games.


Henderson was the surprising stand-out for the Hawks and even their nearby-to-me supporters, perhaps knowing that with their injuries they were candidates for defeat, were surprisingly mild in their comments and even pleasant to be with. The normal arrogant triumphalism had retreated. Where I was sitting there was nothing like the grand final against Sydney when at half time we asked a Hawthorn supporter to stop talking about his sex life (F… ! and F… !and F…!), for which we were thanked by a woman Hawthorn follower.


When Dangerfield landed a goal from over 50 metres out, was he following the advice of a much-maligned Geelong supporters Facebook member who suggested that he needed to learn to focus on a target behind the goals? To the critics, even possibly the game’s best player, could not be advised on how to make his game even better – unless the advice came from someone who had kicked 1000 goals. Tony, where are you when we need you?  Away with the dogs and the cars, we guess. And the person who dared to think made a list of moderate players who should never be coaches according to that principle (starting with Clarkson and Hardwick) and so on. Maybe it was the advice, maybe the longer distance, but he kicked it.


But then you don’t need a brain to be on Facebook or on Twitter, as I wrote in my poem ‘Toxic Twitterati’. Nor to be a footy supporter whatever the club, even ours, which so often ‘plays the game as it should be played’.


Sometimes it’s just the mob mentality. Jack Dyer described Essendon supporters as Collingwood supporters who can read (see Anzac Day booing of Pendlebury), while to the critics the Hawthorn supporters are bourgeois barbarians. The mindless booing of Ablett by Hawthorn supporters, which led to more cheering by Geelong supporters, suggests a colour coded problem. If the French have violence in the streets of some of ‘les gilets jaunes’ or ‘the yellow vests’, ever since they lead the booing of Adam Goodes, we have a problem with the verbal violence of the even less attractive ‘jaunes et bruns’. And we might add their dumb bourgeois mates in the Essendon hills.


Geelong supporters have been spoiled with many wins, and many by my new requisite of 20 points or more…even if our record home and away winning coach has had a finals problem. Now, with new marking and hassling players, Rohan and Dalhaus, and Gary Ablett playing with an inside aspect (more tackles), our recent lack of ‘forward defence’ is less of a problem.


The Cats still go to sleep after a bye or a long break, EG vs GWS the week before, but that’s another story. In footy there’s always another story…or two…or even more…


The umpiring was a little odd in one respect, and I write as an umpire-lover. I must be. I was a former Canberra junior umpire who, especially when a little hungover, preferred the under-7s when the kids played in the mud of the cricket pitch to the Under-14s when they were doing ado aggro….they even give water-boy adults a hard time. Not because umpiring is always odd, or ‘we wuz robbed’  (the Magpie principle more than anyone else) but because of this week’s throw-away-the-whistle rule. It was the ‘holding the ball’ rule, which the umpires rediscovered in the last quarter. And yes, Hawthorn got the better of it.


The Cats did not have their usual third quarter sleep, just a small catnap in the last, which saw Hawthorn draw closer after goals from Henderson and Morrison, until Ratugolea found redemption through a high mark (leading only to a point) but then Tommy Hawkins answered back. Having notched a ton, we ran out winners by a ‘my comfort’ lead of 23 points.


The big debate about value saw most commentators give the votes to the big possession winners; Dangerfield, Selwood and Kelly, and Henderson for Hawthorn. However, in terms of impact including ‘scoreboard pressure’, Ablett’s three goals and his goal assists were arguably more important, while Gary Rohan’s 12 possession four goal game was also up there. We always envied Hawthorn’s multi-pronged attack over the years – above all Breust and Gunston, along with Rioli and supported by Puopolo. Now, Rioli was gone, Breust and Gunston fired only blanks, Puopolo only two goals, and we have Ablett, Rohan and Dahlhaus. The world has changed.



Fingers crossed for the game against the Eagles.



May our ersatz nirvana continue.



HAWTHORN     4.2     7.7     10.10     13.12     (90)


GEELONG         4.3    10.6    15.10     17.11    (113)




Hawthorn: Puopolo 2, Roughead 2, McEvoy 2, Henderson 2, Lewis, Cousins, Smith, Worpel, O’Meara

Geelong: Rohan 4, Ablett 3, Kelly 2, Dangerfield 2, Stanley 2, Dahlhaus, Taylor, Miers, Hawkins




Hawthorn: Henderson, Sicily, O’Meara, McEvoy, Worpel

Geelong: Ablett, Selwood, Kelly, Rohan, Dangerfield, Dahlhaus



Appendix One: ‘We love youse all.’ What did Gazza say, upon reflection, in addition to his ‘faith’ beliefs.

As the author of the article ‘Australian Football as a Secular Religion’ I feel we should note Ablett’s characteristic generosity, even without sharing his beliefs.

He said, having admired Folau’s commitment to his faith, “I want to make it clear that I love ALL people regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality.”

How many times would I, or other FA readers, or his Wallabies and Waratahs teammates, score as potential burnt toast on Folau’s long list?  A good question.


Appendix Two: Should Tommy Hawkins have been suspended for his off the ball hit on James Sicily?

While all free-kicks against Sicily are deserved, according to 90% of football followers, Yes and No. Tommy should not be the bunny again for catch-up policies or a victim of a punch-drunk (?) ex-Hawthorn player turned blonded commentator. Ever since MRO Michael Christian gave a fine for the off-the-ball hit on Jack Riewoldt, the AFL’s plan to clean up the game from off-the-ball hits has gone for 2019. Let’s start again in 2020. (See SA’s ‘Feed Christian to the Lions’ piece, Footy Almanac, 2019 )


Further Reading

Stephen Alomes, ‘Tales of a Dreamtime: Australian Football as a Secular Religion’, in Ian Craven ed, Australian Popular Culture, Cambridge UP, 1994

Stephen Alomes, Australian Football The People’s Game 1958-2058, Walla Walla Press, 2017

– available via the Footy Almanac books site.


*Author Note.  Stephen Alomes is an Adjunct Professor in Global Studies at RMIT University, an expressionist painter and an occasional poet. Sometimes he wants to be a fellow traveller, a Clayton’s Oz version of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S Thompson, although without the bikies or the dope.  He also started supporting Geelong in the Sixties, lived in Torquay and Geelong West in the Seventies, suffered the Cats’ ‘almosts’ in the late 1980s and 1990s, and was there in 2007, as in his back cover painting on his footy book.



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  1. Great piece Stephen, thanks for the reference. A very nice write up, I like your outlook and your references to the old days. Hopefully our Cats can keep on the upward trajectory!
    Cheers, Anna

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