2012 has to be Geelong’s season of youth
Geelong coach Chris Scott after clinching the flag (Slattery Images)
Geelong doesn’t need to win a premiership every season to be deemed a success. Over the past five seasons we’ve become accustomed to Geelong winning 17 games, finishing in the top four and advancing through to preliminary and grand finals.
Geelong’s loss to Collingwood on Friday night has led many to call the end of an era.
Sitting at 4-4 and game outside of the eight, it’s a fair call.
It may be the end of a premiership era for this crop of players, but there is no reason why the senior players at the club today can’t help to build and instil a winning culture.
The current group of under 24s who will be the next generation of Cat.
Geelong are currently rebuilding on the run, as they did in the early 2000s.
Let’s have a look of the players gained and the players lost since that dominant 2009 season.
Of the players who played in the 2009 premiership season Geelong has lost Gary Ablett, Cameron Mooney, Max Rooke, Cameron Ling, Mark Blake, Darren Milburn, Shane Mumford, Tom Harley, David Johnson, Ryan Gamble, Brad Ottens, Kane Tenace, Nathan Djerrkura and Jeremy Laidler.
They’ve also lost their coach Mark Thompson.
That equates to 1,608 games of experience.
Since 2009 Geelong has picked up a number of players at the draft table. Those to have played so far are Daniel Menzel (pick 17 2009, 21 games), Mitch Duncan (pick 28 2009, 37 games), George Horlin-Smith (pick 37 2009, two games), Allen Christensen (pick 40 2009, 25 games), Nathan Vardy (pick 42 2009, nine games), Josh Cowan (pick 56 2009, three games), Billie Smedts (pick 15 2010, six games), Cameron Guthrie (pick 23 2010, 10 games), James Podsiadly (pick 58 rookie elevation 2010, 50 games) and Orren Stephenson (pick 78 2011, three matches).
Trade week in 2009 resulted in Geelong receiving pick 28 (Mitch Duncan) for Shane Mumford, as well as swapping picks 40 (Allen Christensen), 42 (Nathan Vardy) and 56 (Josh Cowan) for pick 88 (Wade Thompson) to Port Adelaide.
2010 saw Jordan Schroder arrive at the club through pick 54 from the Jeremy Laidler trade; pick 37 was used to take George Horlin-Smith who debuted earlier this year and James Podsiadly was elevated off the rookie list.
It was also the year that the first of two compensation picks for Gary Ablett was utilised, as pick 15 Billie Smedts joined the Cats.
Going into season 2012 Geelong had the fifth oldest list, about 90 days above the AFL average.
They also had the equal-third highest average games played with 61 – tied with Collingwood – which was eight games above the league average.
In 2008 they were 80-odd days older and had one more game in experience.
The other key experience stat for Geelong, which will take time to build, is that there are only four players under 26 at the start of the season who by the end of the year should have played more than 100 games.
In comparison, Collingwood has five players (though the Magpies had six players who started the 2010 season under 26 and had 100 games of experience by the end of the season).
This season’s surprise-packet Adelaide had three under 26ers going into this season with 100 games of experience.
They will add another three to that list this season, while Hawthorn – which has three 100 gamers under the age of 26 – should have four by seasons end.
This is where premierships are built.
At season’s end one presumes Geelong will lose the only two players on their list who were alive the last time Richmond won the flag: Matthew Scarlett and David Wojcinski
Question marks will also be above the heads of another five players, who will be thirty-plus by seasons end: James Podsiadly, Corey Enright, Paul Chapman, Joel Corey and Josh Hunt.
If you add their 1,395 games (plus whatever is left at this season’s end) to the 1,608 lost since 2009, that’s more than 3,000 games of experience gone in five years.
That amount of experience would take 22 players over six home-and-away seasons to achieve.
Success this season for Chris Scott and his assistant coaches will be rewarded in the future, if the emphasis remains the same as last season.
No one will play all 22 home and away games. Instead, Scott will get game time into players under 24 to find out if the kids can play at the top level.
Meanwhile, the experienced players need to reward themselves by helping the team win enough games to assure themselves a spot in the eight and September action.
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