The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 18 – Geelong v Richmond: Cats stories from afar

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 Richmond

2.10pm, Saturday, August 4

Skilled Stadium, Geelong

by JOHN HARMS

 

LUNCH-TIME SATURDAY. I’m in tropical Darwin for the racing carnival. It’s Palmerston Sprint Day. The Cup is on Monday. I’m in a taxi en route to Fannie Bay Racecourse. I’ve been thrown in with three blokes I’ve never met before. But within minutes we’ve worked out we all know a mad Albury punter called Jumbo. These blokes – Ferg, Goody and The Smollett Street Beer Baron – have raced horses with him.

 

We arrive at the track. I wish the boys all the best. I’d have a beer with them but I really haven’t got time. Even though this is going to be a really one-sided match, I need to find a TV. I have the ABC radio preview from Kardinia Park in my ear. It’s close to the opening bounce.

 

The first race is run. The voice of legendary Territory race caller Mick Stumbles crackles through the PA. The maidens bumble by. The oiled, sand track smells just like the old sand greens at the Oakey Golf Club.

 

The mood on course is spirited. Laughing. Drinking. Yarning. Remembering.

 

Ribbing. Bullshitting. Punting. But still no TV with the footy on. Not in the ring. Not in the public marquees. Not upstairs in the corporate dining area. Not in the beer garden. I am getting worried.

 

The Cats are $1.06 favourites, and expected to put on a clinic. Steve Johnson kicks the first goal of the match. Mooney kicks another and it sounds like the Cats are away. They sound home already. I need to see this.

 

A bloke called Mick introduces himself. He is on the committee at the Bairnsdale Racing Club. He tells me he is working: getting ideas for racing carnivals. He has one of the main ideas in his hand and another idea ready to go on the table nearby. Mick is clearly an ideas man.

 

I have one last chance: the Punter’$ Paradi$e. It is well-named. Bar. Tote. And, yes, at last, a TV with the footy on. I spot those magnificent blue and white hoops contrasting against the yellow and black, perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing contest in the draw. Only a few people are watching. Gerry from Apollo Bay wears his Geelong cap.

 

The Cats are magnificent. They are playing with such confidence, such strength, such pace. You can tell they are playing brilliant football by the open space on the ground. In tight contests the ground appears small. Players can find little room. They struggle to release the game. But when a side moves the ball as quickly as Geelong, there is so much more room. The ground looks enormous again.

 

Given there is only one TV I am surprised it is not tuned to Collingwood and Carlton on the other channel. I soon learn why. A party of Geelong supporters sit at a nearby table. They are 1970s footballers from Bendigo. The big bloke (who looks like he could still play on Barry Hall) has placed himself in charge of the TV. He is closely connected to Brad Ottens. And he has decreed that this is a Geelong TV. When Johnno kicks a freak left-footer he tells me Johnno was the third victim in the hat-trick he recently took in a game of backyard cricket: Ottens, Mackie, and Johnno. He tells me Otto is a bit sore and having a rest today. He also tells me that the boys are totally committed this year. Disciplined. Determined. “They’re a big chance.”

 

He is with some legends of the Northern United FC. Bill, the computer man, coached them. Garry Mountjoy won a stack of best and fairests. Doug Cail once kicked 29 goals (many of them drop kicks) against Harcourt. Now approaching 60, farmer Doug has booked into the Darwin back-packers as Sven.The Cats, despite some lairising, look comfortable. In a gesture of good will the big fella changes channels. Fifty Collingwood supporters are immediately around the TV. Carlton look keen, the Pies shaky. Another Blues goal and faces grimace with worry. Our big centre half-back taunts, “Look at ’em.”

 

I recognise this as unwise behaviour in any environment, but here in Darwin, it has an element of gauntlet in it. Yet I am strangely unperturbed, confident that this bloke could have defended the Top End on his own in 1942.

 

Instead I am celebrating Mark Blake’s maiden goal which has been described on ABC radio. He dribbles one over the line, to one of the biggest cheers ever heard at Kardinia Park. And then he snaps another one.

 

For a while the footy is back on TV. Geelong toy with the Tigers. We have such a solid defence. We move the ball swiftly through the centre of the big ground. We have so many options up forward. The Tiger defenders look dizzy. Some attacks could be finished by any one of three players – like a Chicago Bulls fast break. Cats by 12 goals.

 

The Pies sneak home, to the relief of their fans.

 

I catch up with the Albury blokes again. They are loaded. They’ve backed a horse called Throne Inn at $9.50. I should have copped the tip.

 

 

Geelong  5.3 9.6 13.10 21.13 (139)

Richmond  2.1 5.2 7.3 11.3 (69)

 

GOALS

Geelong: S. Johnson 5, Stokes 3, Kelly, Mooney, Blake, Wojcinski 2, Corey, Byrnes, N. Ablett, G. Ablett, Milburn.

Richmond: Richardson 4, Brown 3, Tivendale 2, Deledio, Tuck.

 

BEST

Geelong: Bartel, S. Johnson, G. Ablett, Scarlett, Milburn, Corey.

Richmond: Foley, Thursfield, Richardson.

 

DEBUT

Graham (Richmond).

 

UMPIRES

Farmer, Hendrie, Goldspink.

 

OUR VOTES

Bartel (G) 3, S. Johnson (G) 2, G. Ablett (G) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Bartel (G) 3, Byrnes (G) 2, S. Johnson (G) 1.

  

CROWD

 21,951

 

 

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 footyalmanac.com.au. 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 on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

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