The Cats team for the Grand Final, as explained to a West Australian

A friend who barracks for West Coast emailed me to say she and her mates have decided to support the Cats in the Grand Final.Good choice. Professing not to know much about them she asked for a rundown of who’s who at the cattery. I ended up spending longer on the reply than expected and that my footy wisdom and opinion deserved a wider audience!! (Forgive my presumption, my excuse is I didn’t finish writing it until 4 o’clock this morning and was in a weakened mental state). Therefore I’ve decided to foist my opinions of the Geelong team on the Almanac and invitie the Knackery’s comments!

The Mighty Cats!
> From the back line
> Josh Hunt, nuggety muscle-bound backman with raking left foot. Was my nephew’s best man so have a soft spot for him although he is maligned by some Geelong fans. He is prone to clangers and turn-overs, some of which have been very costly. Has established himself and won over most of the fans but can create nervousness when kicking in. Best when he kicks a 60m bomb to outside 50.
> Matthew Scarlett, the supreme full-back. Very rarely beaten. Plays the counter-attacking roaming role to perfection thus setting up many of Geelong’s rebounding attacks. Uncompromising and ultra-competitive, sometimes seen as aloof, though apparently much warmer once he gets to know and respect you.
> Corey Enright, from Kimba, SA, near my nephew’s home town. Fantastic quote in the paper this week which unfortunately I can’t find but essentially:
> “You’ve got to be humble in victory, show respect, don’t put people down, especially if you’ve beaten them” The epitome of quiet efficiency, takes lots of intercepting marks and delivers accurately, no-nonsense, no fanfare, just super reliable, cornerstone of the back line. All Australian for 4th year in a row, only other players to do the same? Chris Judd and Gary Ablett!
> Tom Lonergan, one of the potential fairy tale stories in the GF, lost a kidney after courageously backing into a pack at Kardinia Park 4 years ago, almost died. Long road back and has taken a while for the fans to warm to him and acknowledge him as a player. Takes one of the big key forwards and quietly gets the job done. Has beaten Riewoldt and Franklin. Doesn’t get many possessions just beats his man most of the time. Very quiet, low profile soldier.
> Harry Taylor, mature age recruit from East Freo, a true renaissance man. Training to become a physiotherapist. Widely read, well-travelled, a real thinker, in fact almost a philosopher. Writes for the local paper and gives a different perspective, thoughtful, intelligent, mature. Likes a cigar and cognac!
> Skinny centre-half-back, great overhead mark. Beat Riewoldt pointless in 2009 GF. Cloke has kicked very few goals on him in their last 6 encounters! Expect him to play on him again on Saturday and a key to a Cats victory.
> Andrew Mackie, pretty boy, a bit fond of himself and his fame I think although since being dropped in 09 and missing GF has pulled his head in a bit and worked hard to re-establish himself. Often the distributor out of the back line although like Hunt is prone to turn the ball over with mis-directed clangers. I thought he deserved to lose his place back then, but equally believe he has earnt it back this season. Flies under the radar, potentially damaging, bobs up and kicks goals.
> Midfield
> Travis Varcoe,has taken a while but has emerged this year as a very good player although drifts in and out of games, can go missing, walkabout if you like! At his best running off the half back line, splitting the game open, running, bouncing and kicking inside 50. Kicked a few goals this year but not totally reliable. Can be very exciting, especially when he takes the game on.
> Joel Selwood, a star from his very first game! I’m not one to make quick judgements of young players, seen too many promise much and deliver little but this kid is different. Genuine superstar. Hard as nails, just like all the Selwoods, but he’s the best of them. Tough. Strong, Courageous to the point of danger, knocked out cold in first game of the season going where angels fear to tread. In and under contested ball winner who will be involved where the action is fiercest. Will be the next capatin without question. Rising star, All-Australian, Best & Fairest and two premierships and he’s only 23. Brilliant player, potential Norm Smith medallist.
> Cameron Ling, Ranga, Mayor of geelong, LOVED by all Cats fans. Looks slow and ungainly but appearances are deceptive, has been the No. 1 best tagger in the AFL for last 5 years, has beaten them all, and racks up his own possessions to boot. Accurate kick and reliable goal-kicker. Should never be taken lightly, GREAT captain. Saw some brilliant footage of him with Tom Hawkins in first final, captaincy at its best.
> Probably spend time on Swan or Pendlebury on Sat. Loves surfing, owns pubs, night clubs and restaurants in Geelong, will be a very rich man after football.
> Joel Corey, injured much of last season but back to his best this year. Tough ball winner, good kick, quiet achiever, under-rated but has won two B&F’s so Cats know how good he is. Recruited from East Perth, lives on his own and keeps to himself, a Land Rover type of player, goes in hard and gets the job done.
> Jimmy Bartel, a Rolls Royce. Brilliant player. Fantastic overhead and contested mark. Brave to the point of foolhardy. Unassuming, modest, ultra likeable.Ball magnet and rarely makes mistakes. Kicks important goals. If you want someone to kick a goal after the siren to win the GF, pick Jimmy or Chappy, they won’t let you down. Has a funny little wry grin and film star looks but no attitude to go with it.
> David Wojinczki, Speedy Gonzalez winger, 32 years old and still one of the fastest players in the AFL. long penetrating kick, can bust a game open with his dashing runs and long bomb goals. Dropped for 2008 GF but has come back strongly and plays his role beautifully.
> James Kelly, under-rated star, has helped fill the hole left by Gazza leaving. Different sort of player but incredibly important to the Cats. Leads the team in tackles, 2nd in the league I think behind Scott Selwood, beautiful kick who very rarely turns the ball over. Will be right in the heat of the battle all day. came back from a horrendous broken leg at Subi about 7-8 years ago. Engine room player, my smokie for the Norm Smith.
> Brad Ottens, genuine Finals superstar ruckman. Has missed heaps of games through injury last few seasons but comes back and stars in finals. Been fit all year and part of the reason Geelong have been so good. Strong ruckman, not a leaper like Nic Nat but brilliant use of his body. recruited from Richmond, first big name player Geelong managed to recruit in about 20 years. Hugely important in GF, especially if Jolly doesn’t play as expected. Goes forward, takes contested marks, kicks goals. Used to be a brilliant kick, not so reliable now but still pretty good.
> Trent West, young second ruckman, was about 4th in the pecking order early in the year but since coming into the team about round 17 has been fantastic. Good spring, very tall, skinny-ish,wins fair share of ruck knocks and has started taking strong contested marks around the goal. Took an absolute screamer against Hawthorn. Kicking 1-2 goals a game. Important back up for Otto.
> Mitch Duncan, recruited from East Perth, another ex-Carine boy though after my time. Young and only established himself this season. decent mark and kick, not a star but still a decent footballer who bobs up and kicks 1-2 goals a game. Could be the sub.
> Forwards
> Steve Johnson, Superstar, won Norm Smith medal in 2007, freakish and instinctive, does the unconventional and outrageous and usually pulls it off. In the Peter Daicos mould, kicks plenty of goals but also sets heaps up, number one for scoring assists. Looks laconic and relaxed, often smiling, totally unpredcitable, can split a game open with a pass that NO-ONE else saw or thought possible, one of the true football genius’ of the AFL.
> Big game player. Having said all that, he may not play although the noises coming out of the Cattery are increasingly optimistic. I love Stevie J but don’t want him to play unless he is definitely fir. Cannot afford to play injured players who can’t give 100%.
> Paul Chapman, look up TOUGH in the dictionary and you’ll find Chappy. Hard, nuggety, gutsy, tough! brilliant player, won Norm Smith in 2009 despite doing his hammy half way through! Kicked match winning goal late in last quarter. Beautiful kick and very reliable, kicks clutch goals from outside 50. Got a firey streak, a certain meanness that says don’t mess with me. Younger brother Glen was killed in a car crash some years ago, has his picture tattooed on his shoulder blade. Superstar, match-winner.
> Matthew Stokes, tiny little indigenous forward who has a habit of kicking goals in important games. Developed from a forward pocket to a midfielder this year. Fast and brave, creative, good mark especially for his size. Got into trouble two years ago, busted with cocaine!!!! Has straightened himself out and is much loved by teammates. Missed 2009 GF, will be very keen to grab this opportunity.
> Allen Christensen, almost a replica of Matty Stokes, could be twins! Similar, small forward, tough and courageous, first year he’s established a place in the team and has fitted in beautifully. A little gun.
> James Podsiadly, another fairytale story, recruited from VFL at age 28 after trying out and being dropped by 4 other AFL teams. The Cats employed him as their fitness expert and next thing they put him on the rookie list and he’s become a star! Kicked 50+ goals this year. Looks old and takes a long time to get up when he gets knocked down, Strong contested mark who crashes packs and creates spillage for the small crumbers. Kicking at goal a little erratic, missed 4 easy shots at goals against Collingwood in round 8 but finally started nailing them and helped us to great victory.
> Tom Hawkins, son of Geelong legend, Jack Hawkins, came in as father-son amidst much hype and expectation, “the next Jonathon Brown”. Not surprisingly he couldn’t live up to that hype and has struggled to cement his place in the team, but seems to have found his feet in second half of the season and has had a great finals series. A confidence player who needs to be encouraged. Fans tend to give him a hard time but coach and players believe in him. Has started holding pack marks and kicking 1-2 goals a game.
> Shannon Byrnes, another maligned player, small speedy forward/midfielder, played in two premierships despite lack of respect or affection from fans! Used to be prone to turn-overs and miss shots at goal but more reliable now. The most likey replacement for Johnson if he doesn’t get up.
> Darren Milburn, 3rd longest serving Cat in club history, reliable backman, may play if Wojo injured. Much loved at the Cattery, along with Cam Mooney, but neither likely to play.
> So, there you go, a comprehensive guide to the Cats.
> Hope you found it helpful and enlightening.
> Go Cats


  1. I love it, Marcus! Definitely something that needed to be shared with the wider footy public!
    It even made me tear up a bit. Couple of points I’d like to question, though:
    1. I’m pretty sure Mackie played in the 09 decider? Wasn’t it only last year he was dropped, after the Saint Kilda qualifying final? That showed some of the cracks between players and outgoing coach when sseveral players came out during the week to speak out against the coach and say they wanted Mackie in the team.
    2. As Shannon Byrnes’ number one fan since 2005, I must refute the point that be doesn’t/ didn’t have the respect and affection of fans. This is a view commonly held by people who don’t like him ( of which there are many) but I can assure you I’ve met no shortage of people who like/love/respect him. Was credited by Kelly as the reason we won the 2007 GF (see decade of domination DVD) and has some critical plays in the fourth quarter in 2009. He was the one who got the ball out of the pack to Varcoe who set up Chappy. And if you need to love the guy, watch Down at Kardinia Park, a weekly web show hosted alternately by Byrnes and Tomahawk. Byrnes is brilliantly funny, very likable.

    Sincerely, unofficial head of PR for Shannon Byrnes :P

  2. Clearsighted says

    You’re right Susie. It was 2010 that Mackie was erroneously dropped for the two games after the qualifying final.
    Hindsight suggests that, consciously or not, the club at the time, were being scuttled from within.

    In season 2009, when Geelong played Hawthorn in round 17 and were 28points down at 3/4 time, with both Scarlett and Harry Taylor injured and on the bench, Mackie played smart, creative footy on Buddy, which held the back line together for an historic win.

    Good piece, Marcus. Words like ‘the’, stop making sense at 4am.

  3. What sort of a response did you get from that 4AM email Marcus???

  4. Great overview Marcus and reading through the list you can’t help but be impressed. Not one passenger in that list.

    Here are a couple of observations I have about some of the Cats:

    Josh Hunt: I’m sure he is an undercover operative for a secret government agency or a Navy SEAL. He always seems like he’s about to explode. Good trait for a backman.
    Harry Taylor: Shoulda won the Norm Smith in 2009. Consummate backman. I still reckon the Cats success lies more in their backline than their midfield (and that’s saying something).
    James Kelly: Centrepiece of the Cats this season. Yes to Selwood and Chappy and Ling but for me, Kelly is da man.
    Ottens: Hawks fans will despise and admire him from now on. He carved us up a couple of weeks ago and he’s in line to play a big one on Saturday.


  5. Great summation Marcus, though as pointed out, Mackie played in 09 GF and was terrific. Also, I think you’ve undersold Bundy. He’s much quicker than Stokes, and is our leading contested possession player over the last 10 weeks.

  6. You know who my favourite man is at Geelong at the moment?

    Stephen Wells.

    I think we should build a solid gold life-sized statue of him. Only that might be underselling him a bit, I’m not sure it would be as valuable as he is ….

  7. Thanks for the feedback, and corrections Knackers. I’m blaming the 4am finish for the obvious errors, especially re which year Mackie was dropped. I maintain that in the end it was the right decision and good for him, though others may disagree. He is still prone to turning the ball over but his last few weeks have been excellent and I expect him to be important on Saturday.

    Susie, does Shannon know about your affections or is it a case of unrequited love? I want to go on record as having always been pro-Byrnes, even when all around me were baying for his blood, or calling for him to be dropped at least. The breakthrough came this season when Darlow, a long-time Byrnes bagger, texted me after the Sydney game, rd 23, and said, “We need Byrnes”. It warmed my heart.

    Pete, I really rate Bundy but again, he was one of the last and by then I was stretching! I do think he is very like Stokesy in appearance and ability.

    Ben, There was a preamble that gave some frank, and at times uncomplimentary assessments of the West Coast Eagles so my friends response was preoccupied with that rather than my brilliant analysis of the Cats! I think she gave it one line, something like, “Thanks Bro, that’s helpful, now, as for what you said about the Eagles!!…………”
    On the plus side, it probably prompted me to submit the story to the Almanac :)

    Could not agree more re Stephen Wells. They named the Brownlow after a Geelong administrator back in the day, the Rising Star could/should be the Stephen Wells medal!

  8. YES re: Rising Star! I think that’s close to the BEST idea I have ever heard.

    Regarding Byrnes, my most prized possesion is a signed photo of him with the inscription:

    “To Susan,
    Thanks for all your support!
    (signed) Shannon Byrnes”

    My mum works with a lady whose son-in-law is friends with Shagga. Through this convulted chain, I managed to organise the photo (I actually had no choice in the matter – when the lady my mum works with heard who my favourite player was, she absolutely insisted I get her a photo to get signed for me … if that makes sense … )

    It sits in a frame on the wall above my bed. I think he is a superstar player. Not in the classic sense, but his leap, his ferocious tackling, his speed, his ability to surprise and exceed expectations … he can be an x-factor, and those are my favourite types of players.

    Also, how many players can boast giving away a free kick to the opposition (in front of the opposition’s goals) after tackling his own teammate? Only one that I know of.

    In one of the prelims (07, one of my brothers says, but I wouldn’t rule out 09) Byrnes accidentally laid a brilliant tackle on Stokes, who was pinged for holding the ball.

    To quote the officiating umpire: “It’s not my fault your own teammate tackled you!”

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