GWS: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

Giovanni Torre Columnist

By , Giovanni Torre is a Roar Expert

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    The football community will gaze upon the four remaining contenders with a range of strong emotions.

    Everyone bar the supporters of Hawthorn delighted in the Hawks’ exit. (Click to Tweet)

    Collingwood fans were probably the second-happiest group of fans as the record of 1927-1930 remains unparalleled. Luke Beveridge scored a win for his late grandfather Jack in that regard.

    Geelong fans were third-most stoked, not only because of the rivalry between the clubs and the Cats’ role in sending Hawthorn packing, but it also brought Geelong a little closer to laying claim to “team of the 21st century” status.

    The Cats can nail that down by winning the 2016 flag. Hawthorn will have to wait until 2017 for a shot at wrestling it back.

    The old firm
    Hawthorn are gone, but Sydney and the Cats continue to infuriate everyone but their own supporters. One or the other has featured in the 2005, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09, ‘11, ‘12, ‘14 grand finals, and between them they’ve taken five of the past eleven flags. If either side claim the premiership, neutrals can always say “at least it’s not the Hawks”.

    Geelong are a strange case though. 2014 was a mirage. Geelong were not in it against the Hawks in second qualifier, losing by 36 points, before being bundled out by North Melbourne. 2015 was a massive flop. Before the trading period late last year, the Cats were paying 17/1 for the flag, yet here they are.

    Sydney are the only top eight side Geelong hasn’t beaten this season, and what’s more their one game was at Kardinia Park. The Swans have been rocked by a few important injuries, but Geelong will need to be at their best for four quarters to put Sydney away. Tom Lonergan has historically played well on Buddy Franklin, but if Franklin pushes up the ground the Cats may rotate Harry Taylor into a “tagging” role, in want of a more accurate phrase.

    The key will be Tom Hawkins. His ability to bring other forwards into the game against Hawthorn held Geelong together. If the Cats are to make the most of their opportunities going forward, it will be Hawkins who makes it happen. Like a gigantic version of Roberto Baggio, Hawkins not only kicks goals but marshals the attack and sets up others for the kill.

    A lot will need to click for Geelong to beat Sydney, but if the “second tier” Cats fire it will be a clash for the ages.

    Geelong Cats Patrick Dangerfield Harry Taylor Steven Motlop AFL 2016

    The upstarts
    I have mentioned this before but the Western Bulldogs should revert to the name Footscray. There are a host of reasons this is a good idea for the club itself, but would also mean Greater Western Sydney could drop the “greater” without creating a situation in which the league includes Western, West Coast and Western Sydney.

    On Saturday evening the only people among the 7.4billion on earth not hoping for a Footscray victory will be the 22 Giants, their friends and family, and the staff employed by the Greater Western Sydney Football Club.

    This doesn’t mean we should blame the Giants or their staff. They are only making the best of a ridiculously good situation. The AFL wanted an instant on-field success in the apparently fertile demographic soil of western Sydney and it only took the sixth season to deliver.

    West Coast and Adelaide, unlike Fremantle and Port Adelaide, had no direct historical antecedent(s), but they were the inheritors of two incredibly rich football traditions. Anyone who saw the 1984 Victoria versus Western Australia game at Subiaco could not possibly have argued the Eagles of 1987 were an unworthy club, or that their 1988 finals appearance was ‘manufactured’.

    I suppose the Giants will say ‘we have to start our tradition somewhere, so we might as well start at the top’ and the league will agree.

    Yes, Western Sydney are being rewarded for having very few fans by getting a home final at their tiny stadium. Geelong fans may well point out the problem, but money talks and bullshit walks.

    Instead of focussing on the apparent negatives, let’s focus instead on why the Bulldogs will beat the Giants.

    The Giants slew Sydney on the outside with their pace, but the Dogs have the intensity to hold up the run – and the pace to match the Giants if space is opened up.

    If you want a vision of the future, remember that passage of play late in the first quarter against Hawthorn when the Dogs forwards locked the ball in about 35 metres from goal and laid tackle after tackle after tackle. They were relentless – finally procuring a shot on goal after frustrating a series of Hawthorn attempts to escape.

    It is the destiny of Bevo’s Bulldogs to face one of the old firm on grand final day. I have already predicted it will be Geelong. Whether it is the Swans or Cats who stand in the way of the tide of Footscray’s revolution, there are many who will be hoping they get swept aside.