What happened to the Cats who dominated September?

Rhys Thurston Roar Rookie

By Rhys Thurston, Rhys Thurston is a Roar Rookie


79 Have your say

    Reputations are made and lost in finals and Geelong built their 2007-2011 reign of dominance on the back of big-time performers and performances.

    Jimmy Bartel, Paul Chapman, Matthew Scarlett, Joel Corey, Gary Ablett, Brad Ottens, Steve Johnson, Cameron Ling and Corey Enright all rose took their game and the team to new levels during September.

    Bartel kicked clutch goals and was given the task of shutting down Lenny Hayes in the 2009 grand final. Chapman kicked bags of finals goals, including the 2009 winner. Scarlett’s 2007 series was nearly flawless, conceding just one goal for the whole series and averaging 22 possessions at fullback.

    Corey was Mr Fix-it. His smother in the 2007 preliminary final arguably changed the course of the game. He went to halfback at three-quarter time in the 2009 grand final and was influential.

    Ablett kicked Geelong’s final goal in the five-point, 2007 preliminary final victory, and was Geelong’s best in the losing 2008 grand final and 2010 preliminary final.

    Ottens was best a field in the 2007 preliminary final and who can forget his inspirational run down of Michael Pettigrew in the grand final? Johnson won the 2007 Norm Smith, but his heroics four years later, when he kicked four goals with a knee that needed regular painkilling injections, was more remarkable.

    Ling locked down the likes of Sam Mitchell, Dane Swan and Nick Dal Santo. And, finally, Enright won two best and fairest awards during premiership years.

    Fast forward to 2017 and it is a different tale. Since their last premiership, the Cats have lost seven finals and won two, which could have gone either way.

    Isaac Smith missed after the siren last year to see them escape and their 2013 semi-final win against an inexperienced Port Adelaide came on the back of a 23-point halftime deficet. Their losses have been alarming.

    Fremantle shocked Geelong and the football world in 2012, kicking 5.7 to 0.1 in the first quarter and defeating the reigning premiers in Melbourne. The Dockers did it again the following year, but this time down in Geelong.

    Hawthorn came from 20 points down at three-quarter time to see Geelong lose the 2013 preliminary final. It was a straight-sets exit in 2014 and last year’s preliminary final was over at quarter-time, when Sydney led by 39 points.

    This year, the Cats earned a second chance after finishing the regular season in second place, and the likes of Stephen Motlop, Mark Blicavs, Lachie Henderson, Sam Menegola, Jordan Murdoch and even mature-aged recruit Tom Stewart are desperate to make their mark.

    Motlop’s last five finals have only yielded three goals and he has not reached 20 possessions in any of those games. Blicavs has only averaged 13 touches a game in his eight finals appearances. Meanwhile, Henderson gathered eight possessions in each of his two finals for Geelong and a total of five marks.

    Menegola’s finals possession average of 18 is well down on his career average of 24. The line-breaking Murdoch has played five finals and his best return is ten disposals. Then there is Stewart, who had a night to forgot against Richmond, dropping marks, missing targets and failing to show the poise he has displayed all year.

    No one enjoys being questioned, particularly during September, however the numbers don’t lie. Geelong’s recent finals record is poor and a list of players have underperformed on the big stage.

    Can they turn it around in the space of seven days and replicate their predecessors or will another disappointing performance finish the Cats’ 2017 season?

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    The Crowd Says (79)

    • September 13th 2017 @ 2:51am
      Kurt said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:51am | ! Report

      Indulge me as I posit this particularly controversial theory, but is it possible that the current crop of players aren’t quite as good as those from 2007-11?

      Geelong’s just going through what we Hawks fans went through post-91: A deep-seated hesitance to recognise that the guys running in the same jumper weren’t of the same calibre as Dermy, Dipper, Dunstall, Ayres, Platten, Langers etc. This too shall pass for Geelong fans.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 8:24am
        Shane said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Internally they know it – it should be obvious to anyone. Post expansion, the Cats just haven’t had the picks to draw in that standard of talent.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 4:01pm
        Gecko said | September 13th 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

        Agreed. In fact you could turn the question around. How on earth do the Cats continue to make the finals with players like Bliclavs, Motlop, Menegola, Murdoch and Guthrie running around in the middle?

        • September 13th 2017 @ 5:35pm
          I ate pies said | September 13th 2017 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

          Home ground advantage Gecko. Just like West Coast and Port Adelaide

    • September 13th 2017 @ 4:51am
      Craig said | September 13th 2017 @ 4:51am | ! Report

      The cats are a great club and have been competitive in nearly all of those finals. “being competitive” isn’t enough for some fans, but every year they have been a shot at the finals and one of the most consistent performing teams over the last 10 or so years.

      Criticising Geelong is cheap and weak.

      Any team who doesn’t win the GF is probably going to have a negative finals record. If you make the finals every year and aren’t premiers and dont make the GF you will have a negative finals results.

      Its unbelievable that suddenly we’re bagging Geelong. They have been a genuine chance at the flag for the last 10 years. Yes I understand you play for premierships, but they have been a genuinely good team for a significant period.

      Before last weekend, Richmond had a record of 1 win, 5 losses over the last 20 years. 20 years!!!!! they’re now 2-5.

      Geelongs 2-7 is just over the last few consecutive years. Would I rather 2-5 over 20 years or 2-7 over 5?

      The criticism is ridiculous.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 6:12am
        Kurt said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:12am | ! Report

        Having a better finals record than Richmond is a bit like being less outspoken than Donald Trump.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 6:49am
          Slane said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

          I was thinking the same thing. They have a better finals record than the least succesful team in the competition. Whoopedy doo!!

        • September 13th 2017 @ 8:26am
          Shane said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          I reckon we have a better finals record than half the teams in the comp over the last 6 years, though – so why the criticism?

      • September 13th 2017 @ 8:35am
        truetigerfan said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        Gee Craig, Why so hostile? This article is fair and accurate telling it how it was and is. Good job, Rhys. To view it as criticism, cheap and weak, and ridiculous is missing the point. Yes, the Cats were an awesome unit! Look at the names put forward by the writer . . . Bartel, Chapman, Scarlett, Corey, Ablett to name a few. The Cats certainly haven’t replaced these champions like for like! I mean, how could you? All eras of dominance come to an end. I hope you enjoyed it! The Cats were great but are no longer. Still a good team but . . . re-read this article, the penny might drop! Carna Tigers!

      • September 13th 2017 @ 9:25am
        truetigerfan said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Craig, why so sour? The Cats were great, are still good, yet you view this as criticism? Cheap, weak and ridiculous!? What does Richmond’s success, or lack thereof, have to do with this? Suck it up, Craig!

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:12am
      Jermayn said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Reminds me of the Eagles side post ’95-96 still a good side but only making up the numbers come September.

      The old theory about the bottom 5 of the 22 being the difference in finals.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 8:48am
      Michael said | September 13th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Bomber Thompson’s Cats dominated September. What legacy effect of his lingered in 2011 and has since dissipated?

      • September 13th 2017 @ 1:33pm
        Powerboy said | September 13th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

        The crucial words in that sentence are “Bomber Thompson”. Chris Scott is not a coaches bootlace. Where anyone got the idea that either of the Scott twins could coach is mystifying. Gifted a premiership in his first year by a champion team, built by Thompson, Scott, and president Brian Cook, have since developed a team and a club capable of playing only at a “boutique” stadium and a fan base that refuses to travel even to the MCG to watch.
        Brian Cook’s comments in today’s Fairfax press merely serve to underscore the stiffness of the rod Geelong have made for their own back.

    • September 13th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Connor said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      Its obvious that at similar ages to what the premiership crop were, most of Geelongs current players simply aren’t as good. Although i maintain that Geelong’s hardness and refusal to lose in finals-like situations disappeared when Chapman got suspended in the 2013 finals. He doesn’t play in the Hawthorn prelim, Geelong lose, Chapman gets forced to leave because of his ‘age’ and the Cats haven’t regained that same mindset in the 4 years since.

    • Roar Guru

      September 13th 2017 @ 9:33am
      Penster said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      And this phenomenon is known as “equalisation”. Or “making hay while the sun shines” in the old money. Hawks are finding out all about it now, and it proves that some clubs are excellent at converting high draft picks and others are not.

      • September 13th 2017 @ 9:42am
        Don Freo said | September 13th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Hawks have been terrible with building a future. They have nothing now. Now Freo, who have regularly been in finals too, have a wealth of youth with games into them now. Happy days ahead.

        Meanwhile, The Cats have those 2 good players. Miss one of them and there goes the good form.

        • September 13th 2017 @ 11:37am
          Penster said | September 13th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          Check your crystal ball settings Don, mine says the Hawks will win another flag before Freo gets close.

          • Roar Guru

            September 13th 2017 @ 2:40pm
            Paul D said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

            I think Don’s crystal ball is just a purple coloured magic 8 ball

            Will Freo win the flag before 2030

            Reply hazy, try again

          • September 13th 2017 @ 2:41pm
            Don Freo said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            My balls have been an accurate barometer for a long time. I feel it in my water.

            • Roar Guru

              September 13th 2017 @ 2:54pm
              Paul D said | September 13th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

              Maybe you could ask Morabito’s trick knee what the weather will be like tomorrow

              • September 13th 2017 @ 6:14pm
                Don Freo said | September 13th 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

                I usually get you but that one passes me by.