The Footy Almanac 2007 Grand Final – Geelong v Port Adelaide: A murder at the Grand Final day picnic

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

Geelong versus Port Adelaide

2.30pm, Saturday, September 29

Melbourne Cricket Ground

CAMERON NOAKES

 

 

WARNING The following material contains content that may offend (especially if you’re a Port fan).

 

IT WAS GRAND FINAL MORNING, 6am, and I woke with thoughts inside my head. Dirty, filthy, ineffable thoughts and I wanted them to stop but they just wouldn’t stop. And here I was, in my living room, dealing with these unutterable things, alone, tormented, unable to explain, unwilling… the newspaper at least two hours away and the coffee still cooking on the stove. People think I’m twisted. My wife thinks I’m despicable. She says if our relationship is to improve, I need to grow a beard and find my soul and think about beautiful things, truth and spirit, the grace of indigenous footballers and bucolic wonderlands. My wife is secretly in love with Martin Flanagan.

Me, I’m in love with ridiculous multis, line-bets, fantasy footy and winning money on sport. At 8am the paper thudded on the deck. I sprung into action. I peeled off the plastic, poured the coffee, and my wife woke with a glow in her cheeks – she had been dreaming about Flanagan, again.

 

The paper was covered with a wrap-around and on the front were caricatures of Gary Ablett and Jim Bartel, dragging a giant cat by the neck. I thought the absence of a Port player was strange. Flanagan’s words also decorated the front page. He talked about the Geelong Football Club and how it was essentially a country club. He said it was “different” and:

 

It’s always been different … and there remains at Geelong a certain belief to do with footy that recalls another time in this country, another spirit.

 

And he talked about Port and its 34 premierships in the South Australian league. He talked about this team’s “indigenous talent”, Mark Williams’ “native cunning” and said “the team Port Adelaide reminds me of is the 1993 Essendon side”, which was captained by Mark Thompson. He then declared:

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we could be in for a classic.

 

As I combed the rest of the paper, my wife read Flanagan and, out of nowhere, said: “Let’s go to Tasmania,” and, “Why do indigenous footballers often win the Norm Smith Medal?”

 

I was furious. I said, “No,” and “I don’t know,” and stormed out, thinking about Maurice Rioli, Peter Matera, Michael Long, Andy McLeod and Byron Pickett. I headed to the butcher. I needed to sausage-up for the barbecue.

I wanted some wine and a TAB and I started thinking about Port and its Aboriginal footballers. Was there something to this? Could they produce the incredible? Did Port really have some sort of X-factor? Could Geelong turn into a shrinking violet, be the country club on a stage too big?

 

Everything said Geelong and Geelong by plenty but there was a small case for Port … and then, through the radio, the first rumour filtered through: Darren Milburn was under an injury cloud.

 

At the TAB, I invested in anger to get back at my wife and I backed everything I could think of: Geelong between 43-60 points ($6.50), a Port win ($3.35), Geelong over 61 points ($9.90), Daniel Motlop ($13 for first goal), Brett Ebert ($12 for first goal), Steve Johnson ($15 for the Norm Smith/$11 for first goal), Tredrea ($51 for Norm Smith/$13 for first goal), Brendon Lade ($35 for Norm Smith), Ottens ($14), Danyle Pearce ($41), Shaun Burgoyne ($14) and Chad Cornes ($11).

 

I heard the money was starting to come for Port, too, and I nibbled some more: quarter-by-quarters with Port winning, quarter-by-quarters with Geelong winning, and value bets for the first goal-scorer: Joel Corey ($41), Cam Ling ($23) and Steve Salopek ($101).

 

But my big saver was Paul Chapman ($13) for the Norm Smith Medal.

 

So with some lovely tickets (all bases covered), some rump, sausages, wine and beer, I collected the family and we were off to the great Australian Grand Final barbecue. By the time we got there, fat snags were sizzling, salads had been laid out, kids were kicking a small football in the yard and the sweep was being organised (winner, first goal scorer for each quarter and Norm Smith).

 

The beer was cold and the crowd was good: pure football fans, no pseudo- supporters, lots of punters, all riding their tickets, internet on with live stats feeding in. From the opening bounce, the Cats seemed way too strong. The pace was frenetic but, like a weaker rugby pack, Port was being slowly forced backwards. Seven minutes in and I was riding the Chapman kick home. I had him for first goal in the sweep, but much to my chagrin, Mooney marked in the square and popped it through. Goddammit. He was a $6 favourite. I didn’t have him.  Johnson was next, I had him, Tredrea next, I had him, and these were the tickets I was tearing up, plus a stack of others. I piled my plate with some noodle salad and the big bangers, no sauce required, and watched Port trying to kick out from defence. It didn’t look good. And when Michael Pettigrew went to Domenic Cassisi and Gazza flashed by and snagged the goal, the looks flew around the room, the lads checked their quarter-time margins, someone wanted to dust off the fat lady.

 

When Port responded through Shaun Burgoyne, the margin was, bizarrely, only seven points and maybe there was some hope for a contest. They just needed to hang on. They couldn’t. Johnson got one a few minutes later and the one from Bartel just before the bell was a killer. The Cats had been relentless from the first minute to the last and it was a sign of things to come.

 

If the game wasn’t over then, it was over at the five-minute mark of the second quarter when Max Rooke booted the Cats’ second for the term. This was looking ugly. The Cats ball movement was clean and fast and they were ferocious. Then there were more goals and more still.

 

This was more than ugly, it had become X-rated. It was time to put the women and children outside. I got another snag. We put down the beers and opened up the red. We checked tickets. I tore up some more. We checked the stats. Peter Burgoyne was racking them up. MOC was on.

 

Gav was out of his quarter quad by two points. There was some talk of Scarlett in the hunt for Norm. And Jacob slapped his butterflied lamb leg on the grill. It was time to fry my steak and have a kick with the kids. My left boot was sharp, our ball movement was electric like the Cats, and the O’Connor boys weaved and waxed between the lemon and lime trees.

 

At the start of the third, instinct told me to go for Port. I think it was that innate thing within all of us, that thing that makes us fight for survival, the thing that makes us hope for the underdog, the thing that makes us cheer the wounded hero when he picks himself up off the canvas and fights back with some big hits to win the impossible; but instinct is an idiot.

 

There were more Geelong goals. A huge speccie from Chapman earned him the nickname ‘Norm’ Chapman, but ‘Norm’ Scarlett kept damaging, ‘Norm’ Ling was working hard, not to mention ‘Norm’ Johnson and ‘Norm’ Ottens and nearly ‘Norm’ Ablett and Bartel.

 

In the final term we were counting stats. Kane Cornes was closing on Burgoyne, the 61-point plus margin was home, the 80-point plus margin was home, the 100-point-plus margin was home, nearly ‘Norm’ Bartel was shrugging off his nearly tag and I was tearing up more tickets and contemplating a final sausage.

 

Siren time. Thank God. We pulled a curtain around the TV so the children couldn’t see.

 

Port was a mauled carcass, a gutted rat that had been pawed and clawed and chewed by a very hungry cat. And there it sat, bloody and motionless on the MCG turf, victim of the most ruthless Grand-Final kill of all time.

 

Mark Williams looked dark and angry. Cornes had passed Burgoyne on the stats. MOC tore up a ticket but his quarter quad was home. We popped the sparkling shiraz. We watched Johnson take Norm. I tore up some tickets. Geelong was dignified in victory.

 

Then, with just a handful of people looking on, we put the TV in a body bag and zipped it shut. “No more to see here, folks, move on, please. Stay behind the ropes. 2007 is over.”

 

 

Geelong                5.7          11.13    18.17    24.19 (163)

Port Adelaide  2.2           4.3           5.5           6.8 (44)

 

GOALS

Geelong: Mooney 5, Chapman, S. Johnson 4, N. Ablett 3, Bartel 2, Ottens, Byrnes, G. Ablett, Rooke, Ling, Mackie.

Port Adelaide: Tredrea, S. Burgoyne 2, C. Cornes, Logan.

 

BEST

Geelong: S. Johnson, Chapman, Scarlett, Corey, Mackie, Enright, Ling, Harley, Ottens, Mooney.

Port Adelaide: K. Cornes, C. Cornes, P. Burgoyne.

 

MILESTONE

Pearce (Port Adelaide) 50 games.

 

UMPIRES

McBurney, McLaren, McInerney

 

OUR VOTES

Chapman (G) 3, Scarlett (G) 2, Ling (G) 1.

 

NORM SMITH

Steve Johnson (G)

 

CROWD
97,302

 

 

For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE

 

Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased HERE.

 

 

2007 Footy Almanac

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