The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 16 – Geelong v Bulldogs: A Cat-attack for a languishing town

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 Western Bulldogs

7.40pm, Friday, July 20

Telstra Dome, Melbourne



IT STARTED AS A DARK WEEK for Geelong with the announcement of 600 jobs to go at that city’s Ford factory. The Cats and the car plant have been connected since 1925. When both do well, Geelong does well; when one or the other flounders, this little town feels the pinch and closes in on itself. During such times Victoria’s second biggest city turns into just another country town, on the brink of crisis should the town’s biggest employer decide to look elsewhere.


What effect would this announcement have on the best Geelong team to take to the park since Gary Ablett’s dad was a lad? Would the collective anxiety of this gritty yet romantic industrial town pull them down? Could they out-run the black dog?


Out-run the black dog? Are you serious? They ran the little bastard over and left him and his red, white and blue cousins for dead with an opening quarter that set the tone for the game, leaving both sides – and the rest of the competition – in no doubt about exactly where they stood.


The Cats were strong. They ran hard with and without the ball; they kicked long into the forward line, yet they did it with accuracy; they bullocked the Dogs off the ball in the centre; they laid siege to the Dogs’ half-back line. And to cap it all off, they kicked volleyed goals à la Pelé.


The Dogs, apart from a prolific Matthew Boyd and his magnificence, Brad Johnson, looked ordinary and unsure, forced by the Cats’ relentless pressure to kick and handball hurriedly and inaccurately. Unable to run the ball into the forward line, they were forced to bomb it to a cast of what looked like midgets, a tactic which inevitably resulted in the ball sailing back over their heads.


Was it really only 15 rounds ago that the Dogs made the Cats look ugly and slow?


The second quarter expanded on the pattern of the first. Geelong dominated through the centre of the ground, forcing the Dogs out wide, outnumbering them at every contest and generally outclassing them. Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett, Cameron Ling, Corey Enright, Jimmy Bartel… the list of effective Geelong players grew, as did the Dogs’ list of men overboard. Where were last week’s stars: Adam Cooney, Nathan Eagleton, Jason Akermanis and Co.?


The Dogs were forced to make bad choices. Given no reliable targets up forward, thanks to Geelong’s steely back line, they made more turnovers than Sara Lee. On two occasions they gave away 50-metre penalties by trying, out of sheer panic, to hold onto Gary Ablett at stoppages. Both penalties resulted in goals. And yet the Dogs refused to play man-on-man football. For much of the game they followed the Cats around the ground like a documentary camera crew, afraid to get too close in case they upset their subject, in this case the sleek and controlled menace of wild cats at work.


The Dogs’ one-dimensional game was exposed. They rely on their ability to run fast and score quickly. For this to work they needed to deliver the ball with great accuracy and speed. The Cats didn’t allow them to do that and so the Dogs panicked, coughing up the Sherrin like a cat with a bad dose of fur balls.


The Dogs were forced to experiment wildly after half-time, by which point the Cats were so far ahead that the game had ceased to mean anything. Brian Harris was sent to full-forward, Brad Johnson to the centre and the little blokes such as Daniel Giansiracusa were left to fill the holes in defence. Admittedly it was far from the best Dogs’ side on the park: no Chris Grant, Ryan Griffen, Daniel Cross, very little Lindsay Gilbee and a banged-up Cameron Wight. But you got the feeling that the Cats would have beaten anybody the Dogs could have wheeled out.


It was an emphatic win for a Geelong team that at this stage of the year has no peer. In fact, I would say that this was the best performance of any team this season.


The Dogs were shown up (again) for not being defensive enough. In the words of former coach Terry Wallace, they’re “downhill skiers” – great when it’s all going their way, yet unable to do the hard stuff when needed.


The question is whether the Dogs disappoint because of inexperience or just the fact that their young(ish) list, which has been lauded for so long, is simply?not translating promise into deed. Whatever the answer, they cannot concede 100-plus points every week and still expect to match it with the best. As for the Cats, hopefully the dreams they have inspired in their troubled hometown will be turned into something real come September.


Bring the flag back home, you Catters!



Geelong 8.2 13.6 15.11 20.18 (138)

Western Bulldogs 3.1 4.4 6.8 9.9 (63)



Geelong: Mooney 4, D. Johnson, Corey, Mackie, Chapman, Selwood, Stokes 2, S. Johnson, G. Ablett, Enright, Ling.

Western Bulldogs: Johnson 3, Everitt, Hargrave 2, Eagleton, Murphy.



Geelong: G. Ablett, Enright, Bartel, Milburn, Mackie, Chapman, Ling, Selwood.

Western Bulldogs: Everitt, Johnson, West, Boyd.



Vozzo, McLaren, Avon.



Ablett (G) 3, Bartel (G) 2, Ling (G) 1.



Bartel (G) 3, G. Ablett (G) 2, Mackie (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

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