The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 8 – Geelong v Fremantle: A licence to carry

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 Follow the season!




Geelong versus Fremantle

2.10pm, Saturday, May 19

Skilled Stadium, Geelong




I WAS ON THE FIFTEENTH HOLE AT YARRA BEND when winter arrived. Faced with a 40-foot birdie putt (through a series of puddles) to get myself back to 19-over, I realised I was cold, wet, and getting wetter, and that my lumbar vertebrae were in the process of fusing.


By the next morning, the morning of the game against the Dockers, it was confirmed. Antarctic air had blown in and taken its position, and I could hardly move. Footy weather.


I headed down the Geelong Road, prepared for any conditions, ready to suffer for my art. Blue-black clouds in the south-west. Heater on and enjoying the wintry sunshine through the windows. Radio talk suggested the Cats were solid favourites again.


Outside Kardinia Park Geoffrey Blainey rushed past intently, coat over arm, his wild grey hair trailing in the wind. He looked like Kevin Bartlett in the 1980 Grand Final (only younger). He has been following Geelong since the Corio Oval days. [His piece in The Greatest Game on going to the footy at Corio Oval before the war is worth reading – JTH]


Minute-long showers blew through, but the terrace filled anyway, the faithful keen to see Geelong consolidate the form of the previous fortnight. There was
a groan when the announcer revealed the late changes: Josh Hunt in for Andrew Mackie. And for Freo: Paul Hasleby out, Robert Warnock in.


Hunt helped his reputation and the mood of the crowd when in the opening minute he swept past Jimmy Bartel, called for the handball, and sent an arrow-pass which pierced the blustery cross-wind to the leading Nathan Ablett. He kicked truly, and the Cats were away.


They looked sharp, playing open, attractive footy despite the tricky conditions. Aaron Sandilands dominated the ruck, but Geelong’s midfielders were desperate to win the tight contests. There was a huge cheer for the toughest of them, Max Rooke, playing his first game for the season.


Indeed Geelong played it tight all over the ground: Matthew Egan paid close attention to Matthew Pavlich; Cameron Ling shadowed Peter Bell; and Gary Ablett eventually woke to the fact that he was on Josh Carr. By that time Carr had had half a dozen touches.


Much of the opening stanza was played under a perfect rainbow to the east. Geelong kicked away. Gary Ablett and David Wojcinski have clearly been given licence to carry the ball this season, and all players have been encouraged to attack. This is the footy Cats fans were crying out for last year. It works. If you beat the player immediately in front of you, the whole checkerboard opens up. It’s the Nigel Lappin rule. The Lions champion is a master at it.


Wojcinski took up his licence, breaking away numerous times in the first half. He runs so quickly his kicking suffers. He squandered opportunities, scoring a number of minors at moments where a major would have raised the roof of the Hickey Stand. In one instance when he stormed forward, not even Robbie ‘Cracker’ Coltrane could have detected whether the speedster’s kick was a shot or a pass. It actually flew short and low and hard, to be marked fortuitously by a diving Travis Varcoe, who kicked a goal.


Steve Johnson continued his impressive return, reading the game like few others, and capable of the George Best moment. He has so many tricks that he is starting to spook defenders. He can fake with his eyebrows. Late in the first quarter he snuck clear, and a few sideways glances sent defenders in all directions, except his. He maintained a straight, unimpeded line at goal, ignoring the free Cameron Mooney, having a bounce and nailing the shot.


By contrast Freo played without unity or purpose, doing just enough to save face, the absence of hard-running, and general commitment, a concern for their supporters. Heath Black and Des Headland couldn’t get warm. By contrast the desperation of Egan and Milburn brought gentle applause.


James Kelly was playing his best game in a long time. Mooney wasn’t, standing on his heels as the backmen looked upfield for someone to present. That someone was supposed to be Mooney. There are days when he just forgets. Nathan Ablett read the play far better.


The Cats built a 30-point lead and by half-time there seemed to be an agreement about the result: Geelong would cruise to a comfortable win. That agreement was honoured during the third quarter, but the contract wobbled in the last. After a blast from Chris Connolly, the Dockers found some will, led by the passion of Bell, who posted three goals. On the terrace we endured the mandatory mid-final-term scare before a couple of umpiring decisions went our way and the victory was secured.


The rain had held off, but it was good to get back to the car. Radio on for the summary and analysis. Waiting for the heater to warm up. Comparing notes with the experts. Inching through downtown Geelong, where people were happy with the world.



Geelong    6.0 9.5 11.9 14.10 (94)

Fremantle   3.2 4.6 5.7 10.9 (69)



Geelong: S. Johnson 4; G. Ablett 2; Mooney, N. Ablett, Varcoe, Wojcinski, Ling, Ottens, Hunt, Stokes.

Fremantle: Bell, Pavlich 3; Tarrant 2; Webster, Duffield.



Geelong: Bartel, Egan, Kelly, G. Ablett, Wojcinski, S. Johnson, Milburn.
Fremantle: Sandilands, McPharlin, Bell, Hayden.


MILESTONES:  McPharlin (Fremantle) 100 games; Dodd (Fremantle) 50 games; Mundy (Fremantle) 50 games.

UMPIRES:  James, Jeffery, Wenn.

CROWD 20,435


OUR VOTES:  Bartel (G) 3, Egan (G) 2, Kelly (G) 1
BROWNLOW:  Kelly (G) 3, Bartel (G) 2, Egan (G) 1




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

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Funny but I have very little recollection of this game.

    Funny the putt to get back to 19 over is just as nerve wracking as the putt to go 19 under.

Leave a Comment