Some context to another classic

Andrew Young Roar Pro

By , Andrew Young is a Roar Pro

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    My junior football career was nothing to write home about.

    Plonked at full forward, I would find myself sorely out of position week after week.

    I was rarely a source of defensive pressure, and on the odd occasion I had a shot for goal, the novelty of the situation would generally see my right leg nervously poke the ball wide.

    On Saturday afternoon, after a clash with Jarryd Roughead, Pat Dangerfield also found himself in the goal square. From that point on, his performance was a procession of strength.

    Having limply reappeared after quarter time, he was missing a characteristic burst of speed in the middle of the ground that led to a turnover, and saw the ball in the hands of Hawthorn’s skipper a quick forward 50 entry and a goal to Luke Breust. Tom Mitchell and Isaac Smith followed suit to give the Hawks a handy buffer.

    This was to be the real test for a midfield that is consistently reliant on too (or should that be two?) few.

    The dynamic duo, dubbed ‘Dangerwood’, could no longer work in tandem through the middle of the MCG, and Geelong would be exposed for what they are – a team lacking depth. As Tom Mitchell finished the first half with 27 possessions and two goals, Hawthorn were nicely positioned to claim a significant scalp, and give their favourite son, Luke Hodge, a victory he truly deserved.

    The members happily munched on their half-time pies and there was a buzz of expectation and excitement – despite having slotted two to half time, Paddy was injured, his influence in the second half could be negligible at best, and without him in the centre, captain Joel would only be a dynamic Uno.

    What followed left 70,000 suitably stunned. Repeatedly unable to leave the forward 50, or provide repeat efforts, Dangerfield overcame an incapacity to run, and played a second half reminiscent of the old-school full forward.

    Clunking anything that came in his airspace, the Hawthorn defenders took turns trying to stop him. Perhaps the 300 gamer summed it up best after chopping the Geelong star’s arms in a marking contest, observing to Ray Chamerlain, “Have you seen how high he jumps?” He was nigh on impossible to stop, and would have been a lock in for another three votes, but for his wayward kicking.

    Indeed his influence was monumental, but what allowed for this? His role for the majority of Saturday’s match was one not seen in the football of today, and it relied on precision delivery and supreme efforts from his teammates higher up the ground; playing the role he normally does, putting the ball on a platter to the forward line.

    Sam Menegola’s 50-metre tracer bullet to the punt road end that found Danger among a flock of Hawks; Steven Motlop running through the circles and delivering with precision; and Jordan Murdoch demonstrating the speed that won him the grand final sprint, combined with effective ball use. These are the kinds of players Geelong have been looking at for a while now to stand up in the midfield – and with Dangerfield not there, they did.

    Combine this with an ever-reliable backline – the flare of Zach Tuohy and the wily likes of Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan – and one has to think the Cats just won’t go away. Declared ‘too old and too slow’ in 2011, they have defied the odds before, and today’s performance across all lines suggested maybe there is a little bit more there than meets the eye.

    Of course it helps that Smith missed on the siren, but as Hodge mused post match, “that’s footy.”

    As for Danger, he finished with five goals and 20 touches. Watching from the nosebleed section, my father suggested “that’s a season’s worth for you Andrew”- before correcting himself, “make that a “career.”

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