The Phantom speaks

It’s some effort to get to a Saturday night game at the ‘G’ if you are living on the far north-west coast of Tasmania. The cost is not insignificant; so you want value for money. Fortunately being a contemporary Cat that’s exactly what you seem to be getting these days.

When I was informed by gleeful ‘in yer face’ footy gurus of this season’s impending Cat extinction I reworked a saying of my father’s when I would ask him why his old mates referred to him as ‘fighter Walker’ for his unsettling social exploits in a tough regional Tassy town just after the war. He would say ‘I wasn’t very good at fighting, but I used to make it difficult for those who thought they were’. Subsequently my standard response was ‘The Cats may not win the flag this year, but they will make it very difficult for those who believe they can’.

But this is about the matter at hand. Having recently revisited my horticultural roots relating to residual turf pests, the significance of habitual turf burning trouble makers ‘Boris’’ (250th) and ‘Stevie J’s (200th) games it was a no brainer. Those boys still exude pure unadulterated vintage quality. As far as I was concerned the theme for the night could only be about the triple and possibly quadruple flag winners’ milestones. I had no idea that such significant events would coincide with my planned interstate bonding session with Tiger brother Peter. Timing is everything.

Billed as a big chance for an upset the Tigers didn’t disappoint. They came out all stripes, teeth and claws in front of a boisterous partisan crowd. After the Cats snagged the first two goals the Tiges nailed six out of the next seven. The Cats were in trouble, or so it looked to the forty five, or so, thousand delirious Tiger fans sensing divine retribution only a matter of a few more beers and heaps of cheers away. They were certainly loud, if not laconic. What unfolded before them had them standing, smiling, screeming, salivating and believing.

I was making new yellow and black adorned cobbers all around my noisy section of the member’s as the Tiges slipped out to a nineteen point lead. One was Ewan, with a cub in tow. He chattered away giving all sorts of in house big cat information. I found it ever so enlightening.

‘Kicks a mile young Brandon (Ellis); bread and butter to this boy’.

‘Cats are falling apart” as the useful inclusion ‘Energiser Bunny’ (No 28) kicked his second for the quarter.

‘Show some respect Scott’ as the Tiges midfielders consistently smashed us at the stoppages and moved the ball along the southern side with ease and without any Cats even bothering to get a touch.

Even sure shot (No 8) appeared to have been jolted out of his ‘my face in the mirror infatuation’ and was a more than useful, as well as gracious, target when the ball is swiftly and efficiently delivered.

Peter was starting to get a bit of a twitch. So was I, but for a different reason. We both got seriously into the game. I watched closely to work out how they were doing it. My affection for ‘the mullet’ was waning. Edwards’ twenty two first half disposals were damaging and I had recently suspected that Dustin Martin was on the cusp. Just not tonight please. He was contemptuously disregarding my needs.

When yet another joyous, but premature, skite exploded from a delirious Tiger fan in front, brother chastised him with the vehemence of an elder tiger responding to a persistently irritating cub. “Don’t say that you idiot, you can’t trust them. They can switch it on at any time”.

And they did.

Johnson, who  had been outstanding in the middle and dropping back, went up a gear. Even though the Hawk and J.Pod were ineffective, little blokes, Smedts, Murdoch, Duncan, Stokes and Christensen ran, gathered and crucially goaled. The Tiges lead evaporated into the sparkling autumn mist descending before our eyes.

Ewan evolved from a swimmingly satisfied fan to an anti-umpire ogre. “I can’t see that” he howled. Booooooos reverberated round and round and round the ground as the Cats took control. Peter shook his head and snarled opinions regarding the umpires’ birth legitimacy. I remained silent and looked stoically ahead. Why deny such bliss?

Peter retired to the cave to lick his wounds. I enjoyed the moment. The Hawk killed off the Tiges with two early last quarter marks and conversions. Boris kicked a long goal from the Punt Road pocket and was mugged by every Cat player. (Significant, sensitive and so satisfying.) His twilight stays as bright as his eventual replacement, Thurlow’s sunrise.

The Cats got the points, Boris got the votes (of course) and Ewan got the sulks and left at the fourteen minute mark of the last quarter.

Geelong:        3.3   9.3   15.7   20.11   (131)

Richmond:    4.1   8.4   11.7   13.9     (87)

Goals – Geelong: Christensen 3, Bartel, Duncan, Hawkins, Johnson, Smedts, Stokes 2, Blicavs, Enright, Murdoch, Selwood, West.

Richmond: King 4, Riewoldt 3, Martin 2, Ellis, Grigg, Knights, McGuane.

Best – Geelong: Enright, Johnson, Christensen, Stokes, Hunt Duncan.

Richmond: Edwards, King, Martin, Chaplin, Grigg.

Umpires: Donlon, Kamolins, Nicholls.

Crowd: 55,625 at the MCG.

Malarkey Votes

C. Enright    (Geelong)               3

S. Johnson   (Geelong)               2

A. Christiansen (Geelong)         1


  1. Tony Robb says

    G’day Phanto
    Did the Tiger brother attend? At lease it was a game of sorts unlike the debacle we attended two years ago at Docklands. Hope all is well

  2. Good to see you back, Phanto. I want the $10 back that Harms asked me to contribute toward the wreath. Enjoyed your piece in Footy Town. Regards.

  3. Peter Flynn says


    When are you coming to Kardinia Park?


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