The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 3 – Melbourne v Geelong : A young Tomahawk axes his critics

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!

 

 

Melbourne versus Geelong
2.10pm, Sunday April 15
Melbourne Cricket Ground
by JOHN HARMS

 

MELBOURNE FANS DESCENDED ON THE MCG on a glorious autumn afternoon for the match against their oldest rival, Geelong. Coming off two losses, and with David Neitz, Russell Robertson and Jared Rivers all out injured, they weren’t expecting much.

 

It didn’t stop them being chirpy. “No lids down at Geelong. We’re playing the premiers today,” one Demon taunted. “Hawkins: he’s the saviour. One game he’s played against last year’s wooden-spooners, but no, he’s the saviour. You Geelong people never change.”?In all the beer and banter no one noticed the doctor looking at Nathan Ablett in the final minutes of the warm-up, nor the Geelong coaching staff trying to contact Joel Selwood in the grandstand. The rookie finally answered his phone, finished his Mars bar, and bolted for the dressing room.

 

If Cats fans wondered whether the form from the Carlton match would?be sustained, their concerns were soon alleviated. The boys looked sharp again, winning the footy, and attacking the game. Hawkins, wearing shorts so big?a pair of braces would have been handy, dobbed the opening goal from a set shot. “He’s silenced his critics,” one wag said.

 

Neale Daniher set up an attacking structure but the Cats soon took control. Jimmy Bartel and Cameron Ling had plenty of the footy. If it weren’t for missed shots they could have almost buried the game by quarter-time. Paul Chapman couldn’t take a trick, falling foul of the umpires, missing shots, or marking just beyond the behind line. Matthew Scarlett had no qualms chasing kicks in the centre. For a moment he had to check his number to see that he wasn’t Peter Featherby. Demons fans knew they were in strife.

 

Shortly after lemons, the Cats exploded. Again it was David Wojcinski who ignited them. Taking possession on the half-back flank, he burst clear of the pack. He took off, swerving around two opponents like he was rugby union international Ben Tune, and sprinted clear. He found Brent Prismall deep in the pocket. Prismall didn’t stop. He lobbed the ball to the square. Hawkins judged the flight, sagged off Nathan Carroll, and gave himself the sit. He flew over the top, took the mark, played on, and kicked the goal. “This kid is smart,” someone said.

 

Minutes later, with Geelong dominating the centre, a chain of handballs finished with David Johnson. Hawkins led (with Dunstallian timing) to the open space that had been left for him and took an easy mark out in front. He thumped another one home.

 

There was more to come. Again Geelong won the centre clearance and again Hawkins led. This time it was Joel Corey whose precise pass found the big fellow. He kicked truly and Cats fans were delirious.

 

At that point the mood changed. Strangely, Hawkins was called to the interchange bench. While some fans clapped affectionately, many were disappointed. In section M55 at the Punt Road end they were disgusted.

 

“You’re kidding,” one Cat screamed. “Let the kid play. Let him enjoy himself. He’s a footballer: let him play football.”

 

It seemed typical of modern sport: always preparing for the ’morrow. Here was a moment of fair-dinkum joy for long-suffering Geelong fans. Those first 15 minutes of the second quarter held the past (happy and sad), the present, and the future. But the moment was cut short.

 

And what about Tom Hawkins himself? Why was he denied? How great for a kid to have a chance of kicking five goals in a quarter, in just his second game. How great for him to feel like all his hopes and aspirations, all his striving, had come to something. The game lost its heart. It became industrial.

 

Geelong consolidated. Mark Blake, son of Rod, was having his best game. Jeff White refused to man up on him, so Blake plonked himself in the centre square as a link man. Running with the footy, he had time to take a bounce. He even started finessin’, beating a couple of opponents with a fake so unexpected that it led to a Travis Varcoe goal.

 

That was enough for Daniher to go into damage control. It was his only option. In strife, he brought on Ben Holland. “That redefines irony,” one Dees supporter yelled.

 

The second half was dull. Prismall took another step in his development as a midfielder. Bartel took mark after mark. The Cats kicked 1.9 in the final quarter. They could have won by anything.

 

They will face much tougher tests than this.

 

Melbourne 2.1 4.4 5.9 8.9 (57)
Geelong 5.8 11.8 14.10 15.19 (109)

 

GOALS
Melbourne
: Green 4; Moloney 2; Johnstone, Godfrey.
Geelong: Hawkins 4; Prismall 3; Bartel, Varcoe, Ottens, Byrnes, Mooney, Chapman, Milburn, Ling.

 

BEST
Melbourne
: Moloney, Green, Bruce.
Geelong: Bartel, Prismall, Chapman, Ling, Ottens, Blake, G. Ablett.

 

UMPIRES
Ellis, Hendrie, Avon.

OUR VOTES
Bartel
(G) 3, Prismall (G) 2, Chapman (G) 1.

 

BROWNLOW
Bartel
(G) 3, Chapman (G) 2, Ling (G) 1.

 

CROWD
38,438

 

 

For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE

 

If you want a printed copy of the 2007 edition of the Footy Almanac, they can be purchased here.

 

2007 Footy Almanac

 

 

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