The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 21 – Geelong v Port Adelaide: Drama at Kardinia

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 Port Adelaide

2.10pm, Sunday, August 26

Skilled Stadium, Geelong



IT’S ONE O’CLOCK IN THE CLARENDON HOTEL, GEELONG. The cutlery’s clinking and clanking: lots of wolfing down of the bangers and mash. Lots of laughing and talking with a mouthful. It feels like a school boarding house on a Friday night. Everyone excited. Keen to get across the road to the footy. Keen to notch up another win.


J. Dunne looks concerned. “Linga’s out,” he says, dipping his corned beef into his mustard-coloured mustard. “No Bartel. No Selwood.”


But I’m not too concerned. Jimmy will get over appendicitis and Joel Selwood’s having a spell. I’m more concerned that if we don’t get cracking we’ll miss the opening bounce.


Running with three beers and half a kilo of crumbed chook in you is not the ideal preparation when you’re chasing your 16th win in a row. Especially when it’s one versus two on the ladder and Choco Williams is chirpy. But we find a gap on the terrace and squeeze in.


The crowd is white and bright like an Omo ad. Not a dark coat or a cumulo-ominous cloud to be seen. It’s all wispy cirrus and Cats’ T-shirts. Conditions are perfect.


We are hoping for a show. The boys start well. The Cats move the ball quickly, playing on with freedom and confidence. A series of rapid-fire passes finishes with Travis Varcoe, 20 metres out. He remains clear for so long he decides to waltz in and slot the goal. “You’re rabble, Port,” one bloke yells. This could be anything. This is what we’ve come to see. At home. For the last time this season.


But Port steady. Brogan palms to Shaun Burgoyne who snaps truly. Tredrea beats four defenders with a classic blind turn and threads a handball to Ebert. Scores are level. The Cats’ disposal is just a bit off. Kicks arriving on the half volley. Handballs force the runner to hesitate. Just enough to remove the timing from the engine.


Byrnes is caught. So is Wojcinski. And Johnno’s clearing kick isn’t clearing. Salopek goals and the Cats are in a bit of strife. “Arrogant, Geelong,” shouts the bloke behind us. But we are not too worried. We’ve handled the pressure all year.


We get worried minutes later. Gary Ablett lands awkwardly and gets up flexing his knee. Then he clutches at his knee. The entire ground is watching him. He takes a few steps and then sits down. The crowd is silent. “No. Noooo,” say the good folk of Geelong. “No.”


Port kick the next couple.


“Not a bad game to lose,” J. Dunne says quietly. “It’ll keep Port ahead of the Eagles.”


At quarter-time a cheer reverberates around Kardinia when Ablett jogs from the race to the huddle. The applause is sustained. You could bottle the relief.


But Port apply the pressure again. Choco implements a clever zone across the centre of the ground and the Cats are, for a long time, clueless in trying to penetrate it. Too slow to decide. They stop and start, allowing the zone to re-set. Their nervous disposal is picked off. By the final change Port are easily the better side.


The terrace lifts. The belief remains. Johnno intercepts an insipid kick-in and goals. We can still win this. The players have led the way all year, removing the brittleness from the fans.


With minutes to go it’s Johnno again. He goals from a set shot on the boundary line. Brilliant. Then we win the centre break. It comes to Johnno. He baulks, looks long to the square, but at the last instant, converts his drop punt grip to a left-handed, above-the-shoulder, look-away handball, which is creative, sublime, absurd. Chappy doesn’t break stride. Into the open goal. “Chappyyyy.” The terrace bounces like a Soweto choir.


Out of the centre again. Long to Mooney. “Mooneeeeey”. More terrace bouncing. “Not paid. Not paid. Not paid.” Fans re-focus. Doesn’t matter. Now Mackie’s got it. “He can kick this.” He misses. A goal to win.


“C’mon Cats.”


We’re relentless. Ottens is giving everything. He wants this. There’s a ruck contest. A scrimmage. It is 200 metres away from the terrace. But we see a handball come to G. Ablett. It happens quickly. There is movement. Two bodies on the ground. Then a third. The first thing we really see is the little champion bursting into the light. Into the space. Free. He is so brilliant he is suddenly 10 metres in the clear. The terrace yells, “Ablett”. The terrace hopes. And he kicks it. We’ve hit the front.


Sixty-year-old men bounce tummy to tummy. Hugging. It is a magnificent frenzy. I am overwhelmed. Shaking my head about what this game can do. How it gives a stage for skill. How it rewards the brave. “We will see this for years,” I say to J. Dunne.


The last moments are desperate. “Hang on Cats.” Every possession is cheered. Just blow the siren. Henry Playfair gets swamped. The footy falls to Ablett’s opponent, Cassisi, who Davises.


Port by five points. Siren. It is one of the games of the season.



Geelong  2.1 8.4 10.7 15.11 (101)

Port Adelaide  5.2 9.3 13.8 16.10 (106)



Port Adelaide: S. Burgoyne, Ebert, Motlop 3, Tredrea, Salopek, Westhoff 2, Cassisi.

Geelong: S. Johnson, N. Ablett 3, Stokes 2, Mackie, Varcoe, Kelly, Corey, Mooney, G. Ablett, Chapman.



Port Adelaide: K. Cornes, C. Cornes, Lade, S. Burgoyne, Salopek.

Geelong: S. Johnson, Egan, G. Ablett, Mackie, Scarlett.



James, Kennedy, Head.



Cornes (PA) 3, C. Cornes (PA) 2, S. Johnson (G) 1.



Chaplin (PA) 3, S. Burgoyne* (PA) 2, C. Cornes (PA) 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 three. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. 2007!

    This was one of the great games at Kardinia Park – despite the loss. The feeling on the terrace was immense throughout. The Ablett scare. The Johnno cameo. The Ablett goal way up the Barwon River End – we could just see this bloke flash through. And then the Port reply.

    Brad Ottens was a sensational ruckman. Sometimes a little forgotten amid the big mid-field names.

  2. I remember this game as a dispassionate observer and thinking what a remarkable match it was. It was a beautiful winter’s Sunday and I was at the then recently renovated Highway Inn in the beer garden. Shame the grand final wasn’t close to this game in terms of contest.

    Really enjoying this series JTH.

  3. Interesting re how much more a close loss is examined and lessons learnt than a close win and ignored.
    Similarities as a Norwood man to a Paul Weston inspired huge torpedo win for the bays against the legs in 82 a steely resolve by the cats and redlegs resulted turning in to grand final thrashings for the minor round winners thanks,JTH

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