Collingwood and Geelong are both worthy Premiers
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Regardless of where your allegiances lie, mine being with the black and white army, the winner of the 2011 AFL Premiership will certainly be a worthy victor.
It is fitting that after so many playoffs in recent years for a spot in the big dance, with Collingwood taking on Geelong in three preliminary finals from 2007 to 2010, that the best team of the past two seasons takes on the best team of the past five.
And perhaps of all time.
Both sides have their reasons for making the first Saturday in October their day, and for 2011 to be remembered as the year of the Magpie or the year of the Cat.
And we will come away from today’s battle with a palatable outcome.
The coaching career of Mick Malthouse seemingly comes to an end when the final siren sounds.
To hold the premiership cup aloft for the second year in succession, and for the fourth time in his twenty-eight years as a coach, would be a truly fitting result.
For Leon Davis, Chris Tarrant, Andrew Krakouer, and now Alex Fasolo, victory would taste sweeter than to anyone else.
Davis cruelly missed the grand final replay last season after a poor outing in the intended grand final on the last Saturday in September, but has since reformed himself in defence and is perhaps the most pivotal cog in the Pies line-up.
He seems to have finally shaken his finals hoodoo, having been one of the Pies’ best in the qualifying final against West Coast, and playing a huge role in their come from behind victory against Hawthorn in last week’s preliminary final.
Chris Tarrant looked to have missed the boat after heading west in 2006 to Fremantle, but he too gained a new lease on life in defence, and he has rewarded his original club’s faith in 2011.
So to taste the ultimate glory would be sweet, indeed.
Andrew Krakouer’s story is as amazing as they come, not just in AFL circles, perhaps in society itself.
Two years ago, the ex-Tiger had just been released from prison after one bad decision, and any chance of a professional comeback appeared remote.
Pre-listed by Gold Coast last season after an amazing return to football in the WAFL, Krakouer claimed the Sandover Medal (equivalent to Brownlow Medal), the Simpson Medal (Norm Smith Medal), as well as booting his club’s winning goal in the Grand Final.
Krakouer suddenly found himself back in the limelight as Mick Malthouse made another of his inspired calls to take a punt on somebody all else had passed on.
And he, too, has repaid the faith of Collingwood, slotting in brilliantly to Leon Davis’ old role with aplomb and claiming a premiership medal would make Krakouer’s story just about the most inspiring in sporting history.
Alex Fasolo, at just nineteen, has proven himself as a face of the future throughout the second half of the season.
Though it is a huge call to put their faith in a first-year player, he has proven that he is a cool head, and he too could play a pivotal role in delivering back to back triumphs.
As for Geelong, they also have their own reasons to lay claim to the Cup, not least coach Chris Scott, who has defied all odds and perhaps even those inside the club, arguably improving the outfit rather than steadying.
Geelong’s favouritism heading towards the Grand Final is a testament to what Scott has done in his twelve months at Skilled Stadium.
Though they haven’t said otherwise, club stalwarts such as Matthew Scarlett, Brad Ottens and Cameron Ling aren’t getting any younger.
They would love to taste the ultimate success one more time before riding on into the sunset.
That, and their determination to fill the final piece in the puzzle and make it one of the most amazing, defiant feats in AFL, means that Geelong would be a fitting premier for the third time in five seasons.
They would probably be remembered in a higher light than even the mighty Brisbane Lions outfit of 2001-2004, due to the circumstances of their success, as Geelong have had to work harder than any other club to get themselves in this unique position.
Having lost Mark Thompson and Gary Ablett in quick succession, success will also enable the club and this group to be remembered in years to come as more than just a one or a two man show.
Irrespective of the outcome, there will be no case of the better team on the day coming out of top this year, as both clubs have genuine cause to hoist the Cup aloft.
They have dominated proceedings from round one, and not just of this season.
Go the Pies!