Round 6 – Geelong v Brisbane: Cats in the cradle and the SCG…

 

 

Oh, Geelong, you really are the Camilla Parker Bowles to our Prince Charles. You are our destiny, but we have had to spend what seems a lifetime apart at other ends of the ladder from each other. Now, here we are, match of the round, top of the table, together at last.

 

While we were threepeating Bomber Thompson was probably still deciding whether to rent or buy in Corio. For two years in a row, 2001 and 2002, it became part of our ritual to travel down to Kardinia Park in round 21, beat you convincingly yet respectfully, and then glide on towards premiership glory.. You were young but we were swarthy. Ablett, Bartel and Scarlett too: ‘they looked at us and before we knew, they said – we’re gonna be like you… you know we’re gonna be like you.’      

 

In 2004 we met in the Preliminary Final. We travelled down the east coast of Australia while you ambled up the Princes Highway for our home preliminary final at the MCG. You gave us a hell of a fright but in the end, it was like you had snuck into the MCG that night with a fake ID. Your stars were rising; Voss’s knee was bone on bone. Your time would come, it seemed. And it did. And how.

 

It’s just a shame that your success came as we fell into the footballing abyss. In 2009, we really seemed to be getting somewhere. We scrapped and scraped around at the bottom of the final eight and I’m sure, with Emperors like Black and Brown still playing really good footy for us, you glanced down briefly from your ivory tower and worried, ever so briefly. But then we overplayed our hand, put a Paddle-Pop Lion on our guernsey, drafted Fevola, and for the last decade we discovered that the abyss we had fallen into had a deeper abyss of its own. We left it to Collingwood, Hawthorn and St. Kilda to make an honest team out of you.

 

In 2001, a nineteen-year-old named Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon. Even though we won that preliminary final in 2004, it is easy to look back with hindsight and see your plucky performance then as a similarly seismic shift in the natural order of life, the universe and the whole cosmic enchilada. It did seem terribly unfair to me at the time that WE had to host you in Melbourne. But, now here we are, YOUR home game against us is at the SCG. Maybe the footballing gods have been playing a very long game of celestial irony with both of us. It’s only round five, granted, but we are sitting second, and you are third. Incidentally, the other preliminary finalists that year, Port and St. Kilda, are first and fourth. Maybe we’ve flirted with each other for long enough. It’s time. Maybe, this year, we are finally  destined to be relevant together. Now it is we who are young, while you are swarthy. Now it is McCluggage, Hipwood and the Brothers Berry looking at the premiership medals of Selwood, Hawkins and Ablett thinking ‘we wanna be like you… you know we wanna be like you.’

 

When the game begins, it is what we knew it would be. Brisbane’s game plan in victory this year has been less ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and more ‘death by a multitude of missed scoring opportunities.’ The first quarter is like a Mexican stand-off, you accumulate possession after possession while we miss goal after goal. Big O gets a free kick directly in front of goal and hits the post. I feel an absurd wave of hope; inaccuracy exists on a spectrum after all and this is as close as a missed goal can get. Lachie Neale’s resolute consistency this year has clouded the reality that he can be a bit of a slow starter; his Brownlow (I’m calling it) will be a war of attrition. Charlie Cameron can’t seem to get the space he needs out the back of the marking contests, but he is still like a dead shark in the fishing boat, worth keeping an eye on. Cam Rayner has been having a purple patch the last few weeks and, when Neale dribbles a goal through like Peter Daicos, things look good. Maybe this will be one of the games we look back on – a changing of the guard, the heralding of our new glorious era. Geelong, you were there when our last one ended and we haven’t really gotten near you since. Yeah, there was the miracle-on-the-grass game at the GABBA in 2013, but it proved illusory. The adjective ‘miracle’ used to describe a win is the quintessential back handed compliment.

 

Twenty-two points up and everything suggests a smooth, dignified transition back to the new Lions empire. It is fitting that your Emperors Selwood, Ablett et al are there for this symbolic handover. Also, with adversaries such as us, fitting that they are playing well as we take back our throne. You see, Geelong, we understand each other. We are not so different. Yes, our three flags came in one indulgent burst while you spread yours with savvy discretion like an investment banker. Yes, you parlayed your era across coaches and rebuilt without bottoming out, while we floundered. But, for all of our differences, we both, if I may, played the game as it should be played. We both earned the respect of neutrals, making football the real winner. Perhaps that is why we can’t be simultaneously successful – like the Persian rug-makers, deliberately creating flaws (because only God is perfect), we just can’t be ascendant together because it would be too much of a good thing.

 

Then, you start to peg us back. There is football wisdom and lessons to be learned in the way your whole team is able to control the tempo. We hold a narrow ten-point lead at half time, a lead that is respectful of your standing in the game. It would diminish us and belittle the great game of football if we were to thrash you mercilessly. I’ll be honest, Geelong. I’m not sure what happened in the third quarter. I’m sorry that we stood idly by as Rohan, Ablett, Hawkins, Ratugolea and then Rohan again tried to demonstrate to we Lions the formidable difference between goals and behinds. You truly were a sight to behold. It seems that not only can we not play well during each other’s eras, we can’t even play well at the same time in one game.

 

I’ve played a few games of Uno with my daughter this morning, the morning after the night before. Incidentally, I hope that the Lions can acquire some of her ruthless competitiveness over the rest of the season. It seems to me that all is not lost. When we played well last night, we looked like we belonged. When we were good, we were very good – when you were good, you were better. It’s round six, we are still ensconced in the top four and it takes a team such as you to beat us. I hope that whatever the finals actually look like this year, we get to see you. ‘We’ll get together then, you know we’ll have a good time then…’

 

 

GEELONG        1.4       3.4       10.7     11.7 (73)
BRISBANE       1.6       4.8       4.9       6.10 (46)

 

GOALS
Geelong:
 Hawkins 3, Ablett 2, Rohan 2, Menegola 2, Ratugolea, Parfitt
Brisbane: Rayner 2, Cameron, Neale, Hipwood, McCluggage

 

BEST
Geelong:
 Dangerfield, Menegola, Hawkins, Simpson, Blicavs, Ablett
Brisbane: Neale, Rayner, Zorko, J.Berry, Lyons

 

 

 

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About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.

Comments

  1. Great story. Shane.

  2. Top class philosophical musings, Shane. Great read. Loved the dead shark in the boat.

  3. Nice wrap!

  4. Superb Shane. Some excellent lines here. Really enjoyed the read.

    Yes in 2004 we lost to the Lions but after that game I thought the Cats finally had a team to work with. And I didn’t think the Lions lost too much respect last night. They had won four on the trot. Very hard to maintain the rage in a season like this. Four on the trot might be the limit for most teams this year. Also, I reckon the SCG suits Geelong’s current team and style.

    But the Cats were good in the third. Very, very good. I didn’t see it coming.

    Perhaps the Cats and Lions can save football from drudgery in 2020.

  5. Shane Reid says

    Thanks For taking the time to read it Thea, AJC and Hamish.

    Dips, the Cats 3rd quarter was the best footy I’ve seen in a while. I thought it wasn’t a bad contest before and after that. It’s a hard year to predict for sure, I think there will be a few surprises in the run home.

  6. Bowled Shane.

    The turnaround took many by total surprise. Me included. I had said (confidently) to The Handicapper, “The Cats are gone.”

    Many good performances from Geelong in that second half.

  7. Adam Muyt says

    Ah Shane, top writing. You’ve given me something good to take from a poor night at the footy. Adam

  8. Gerard Reed says

    Use of the Cats in the Cradle lyrics is sublime.
    Annunciations of attracting neutrals, delightful

  9. Sam Evans says

    Absolutely brilliant Shane.

    I share in your cautious optimism for the remainder of the season. All is not lost.

  10. Luke Reynolds says

    Great read Shane, far superior to the Ugly Kid Joe version!

  11. Enjoyable read, thanks Shane.

  12. Shane Reid says

    Thanks for the kind words everyone.

    Luke, I haven’t thought about Ugly Kid Joe in a VERY long time!

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    It’s best not to think about them Shane!

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