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Geelong shows strong team culture can keep you on top

Roar Guru
27th July, 2011
12
1620 Reads
Mitch Duncan, Andrew Mackie and Darren Milburn of the Cats celebrate

Mitch Duncan, Andrew Mackie and Darren Milburn of the Cats celebrate their win after the AFL Round 12 match between the Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG, Melbourne.

This week Allen Christenson became the third Geelong player to receive a Rising Star nomination in 2011 along with Daniel Menzel and Mitch Duncan. For a club sitting pretty in second on the AFL ladder, that’s not bad considering they were supposed to be in decline.

There were many in the AFL world who believed Geelong would fall off the premiership pace in 2011 following the departures of coach Mark Thompson and star onballer Gary Ablett Jnr.

It was believed, the side who had been at the top for the past three to four years – winning premierships in 2007 and 2009 – could no longer sustain their high standards with their ageing stars expected to begin to struggle.

However, while Collingwood remain the firm flag favourites, the Cats are odds-on to join the Pies in the Grand Final.

It’s a fantastic reminder for us all, that footy isn’t just about premiership windows.

Geelong has been able to re-generate their list with hungry youngsters ready to seize an opportunity opened up by Ablett Jnr’s departure.

And these youngsters haven’t come through as a result of pure luck or good draft picks. Rather this is a club where the culture and standards demand quality results.

After receiving his nomination earlier this week, Christensen said: “I don’t really care. I play for Geelong, what more could you want?”

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What an attitude! But it just goes to show the attitude instilled in Geelong players. It’s all part of this playing group’s culture.

I’m a huge believer that can be traced back to 2006 when Geelong’s playing group got together for an infamous meeting after an awful start to the season and basically made a pact their underachieving ways couldn’t go on. It was time for this group to reach their potential.

The results weren’t immediate as they missed the finals in 2006, however after a big pre-season in 2007 they swept aside all comers and probably should’ve done so in 2008 had it not been for some inaccurate goalkicking in the Grand Final.

Of course, they did grab their second flag in 2009, before Collingwood stepped it up a gear and usurped them in 2010 in emphatic fashion.

Despite the departures of Thompson and Ablett Jnr prior to the 2011 season, though, much of that playing group from the infamous meeting in 2006 remain on Geelong’s list.

Players like Cameron Ling, Jimmy Bartel and Matthew Scarlett who have maintained those standards set years ago and instilled that culture into the club.

It’s these kind of figures who are crucial to a club who wants to re-generate in the way that the youngsters learn off them, meet their standards and ultimately earn their respect.