The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 20 – North Melbourne v Geelong: A scrap for 15

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!

 

 

Kangaroos versus Geelong

2.10pm, Sunday, August 19

Telstra Dome, Melbourne

JOHN HARMS

 

I DON’T OFTEN GO TO THE FOOTY BY MYSELF. But I don’t mind it. Sometimes I have watched a lot of footy on my own over the years. But I have never been in a situation where Geelong has had the chance to notch up its 15th win in a row.

 

On a mild and sunny day I caught the train to the Dome. Being a North home game, plenty of Kangas’ members had gathered hoping their boys could keep their finals hopes alive. Their gritty side was, after all, the last side to beat Geelong, way back in April.

 

One of the debates in footy throughout the week concerned the approach Bomber Thompson and his match committee would take for the final three rounds. Top place was guaranteed. Would players be rested? Would the team maintain the level of intensity it had for the previous months? Was a loss actually a good thing?

 

It seemed to me that those asking, and answering, these questions were missing the point. Resting tired bodies was understandable, yes. But the Cats had built their success on an irresistible style of joyful footy: win the ball and get it moving quickly, and if you haven’t got the ball, pour on the pressure until it’s yours. There was no reason to change it.

 

The Kangas would have to find a way of combating Geelong’s flow. They were still a top four chance. Yet still most of the footy world didn’t rate them, nor their coach.

 

That Dean Laidley can’t win the respect of the Melbourne footy public says more about the Melbourne footy public than Dean Laidley. Again, he had his boys fired up and ready to play. But it was going to be a tough day in the coaches’ box.

 

He started by sending Brady Rawlings to Gary Ablett. Bomber Thompson had Ling pick up Adam Simpson, and Corey Enright pick up Brent Harvey. That left James Kelly on Daniel Wells, a small victory for Laidley. Wells started brilliantly. He found space in the middle and on the wings, and his Juantorena stride took him forward regularly, leaving Kelly gasping for air. If only Wells had had his kicking boots on. He missed a shot on the run. He missed a set shot from close range after dumping Tom Harley with a tackle. And, having been set up by Scott McMahon (who moves very well), had his third point on the board – by the 11-minute mark.

 

The Cats, under considerable pressure, didn’t falter. Varcoe was exuberant; Joel Selwood read the play. Cam Mooney was too big and strong for Michael Firrito, especially with the ball coming in so quickly and precisely. North (2.8 at the break) hadn’t taken their opportunities. Geelong appeared more comfortable than they really were.

 

The second quarter was a slog. Bomber Thompson must have been concerned because he asked Dasher Milburn to play loose in defence. Goals were hard to come by. North showed all the mongrel you’d expect of a Laidley team, and there was a bit happening off the ball. This proved costly. After Corey Jones had taken a mark about 25 metres out directly in front, blokes standing around me on the concourse first cheered and then started pointing and yelling. Rawlings had niggled Ablett just a little too robustly, and the kick was reversed. Jones would have put the Roos in front.

 

Tommy Hanlon, writer and editor, turned up at half-time, which was a nice surprise. Ten minutes in on the train to watch the second half. It’s something you can do in Melbourne. We downed a few and chatted, without missing a beat of the footy. That’s something else you can do in Melbourne.

 

Still North couldn’t be broken. But they couldn’t get away either. They were within a kick for a while. And then the Cats went kapow. Gary Ablett broke free. Bartel and Corey fed the ball to teammates beautifully. Johnno appeared on the stage to deliver a few lines, and then disappeared into the wings. Geelong piled on half a dozen goals; gorgeous goals in the sunshine with the roof open at the Dome.

 

It looked all over when Mooney took a strong mark and goaled at the start of the last quarter. But North fought back, and for a moment there was what Crackers Keenan has always called “a situation”, when the almost-defeated rises from the canvas to challenge again.

 

Not quite this time. The Cats did enough to get home.

 

Of all the players, Gary Ablett put in the most brilliant performance. But he wasn’t the most consistent. Bartel, Corey and Enright held the Geelong side together all day. For North Daniel Harris battled, Wells was outstanding early, and Arch was at times inspirational. Had they curtailed Mooney they might have won the game.

 

I walked across the footbridge thinking about the finals. I suspect I wasn’t the only one.

 

 

Kangaroos  2.8 4.10 7.11 13.13 (91)

Geelong  5.6 6.10 13.12 17.16 (118)

 

GOALS

Geelong: Mooney 5, S. Johnson 4, G, Ablett, Chapman 2, Bartel, Ottens, Corey, Stokes.

Kangaroos: Grant, Petrie 3, McIntosh, Harris, Brown, Jones, Harvey, Sansbury, Campbell.

 

BEST

Geelong: Bartel, G. Ablett, Corey, Mooney, Enright, Harley, S. Johnson.

Kangaroos: Harris, Archer, Wells, Sinclair, Grant.

 

UMPIRES

Grun, K. Nicholls, McInerney.

 

OUR VOTES

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

 

BROWNLOW

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

 

CROWD

48,501

 

 

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 - Theo12, Anna11, Evie9. 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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