I think many people want Geelong to disappear now. It’s nearly six seasons since their reign began and for them to hang about has been deemed a little unsavoury.
Remove those balding heads, ageing battle-hardened faces and wobbly bottoms from our sight, seems to be the general consensus.
And I must admit, watching the old warrior Paul Chapman waddle about in the change rooms on Friday night, red-faced and glassy-eyed with his Hawthorn grudge made me smile, as did his pronouncement in the pre game promotion: “I just believe that from now on we just make it hard for Hawthorn to beat us”.
I’ve always found the Cats’ grudge ( it’s not a rivalry because the Hawks don’t hold anything against them – as evidenced by the laconic way they ran out onto the field on Friday night) a little curious.
Yes, they lost to them in the 2008 Grand Final but they gave it away… kicking eleven straight behinds. You can’t really blame poor Hawthorn for that.
Yes, there were those 2009 remarks by a premiership smug Jeff Kennett about Geelong’s lack of “quality” and “psychological drive” but the grudge was already in place. Chapman claims his near obsession was instilled in him by coach Mark Thompson’s post match address telling the players that the loss should remain with them.
That speech though would have been partly inspired by Thompson’s own anti Hawthorn obsession from his playing days with Essendon.
Yes, I suppose there is the 1989 Grand Final, when knocking out John Platten, breaking the ribs of both Dermott Brereton and Robert DiPierdomenico, and having Gary Ablett kick nine still couldn’t win them a flag against the damned Hawks.
Grudges are from the past and holding them wastes energy required for what is important now: winning a premiership. The Cats’ nine victories since ’08 obviously haven’t assuaged the pain, so give it up.
But as I watched Geelong smash an admittedly uncaring Hawthorn in the first quarter I slowly began to change my tune about their attitude and their premiership prospects.
They have won two premierships – not against Hawthorn of course – while holding that grudge so perhaps for them it’s a positive mindset. Perhaps it’s not really against Hawthorn at all but against themselves for giving up that 2008 title.
Chapman who walks like an elderly man afflicted with haemorrhoids runs like the wind when a goal is in the offing.
Jimmy Bartel blowing hard and looking older than his 28 years chased down a goal bound Liam Shiels and gangly Harry Taylor somehow kept up with Cyril Rioli for half the length of the field preventing the maestro from threading another glorious goal.
They have retained their marking poise in defence.Then there is the boyish looking Tom Hawkins who was once considered a waste of enormous space.
He is no longer fearful of kicking goals: brilliant snap shots and game winning set ones. The giant has also developed a little mongrel, returning the elbows given to him off the ball.
As far back as the 2010 Preliminary Final when they were run over by Collingwood’s wonder kids, the ageing and success-fattened Cats were expected to be roadkill for most of the competition over the ensuing years. In 2011 they returned to win all but three close games, and stole the Premiership.
Geelong are clearly not the team of last year but other teams seemingly less credentialed than the Cats have been installed – albeit briefly in this schizophrenic season – as premiership certainties.
It would be good for the competition if someone else won the flag but this desperate group of ageing champions continue to provide drama to an already mad season. It will be fascinating to see what they do come finals time. Personally I wouldn’t mind if they pinched another one. If they do, they should probably do the decent thing and exit the stage next year.
There is a gentleman hanging around me in the cafe as I write this. He’s hoping to procure my daily newspaper as he’s had to make do with the local rag and a Dick Smith catalogue. Like the Geelong Football Club, I suspect he will not be going away soon.