The AFL in 2019 has been terrific, fun and exciting to watch for all Geelong fans. Is it going to be Geelong’s year?
Geelong’s 2018 season came to an uninspired conclusion on Friday night, defeated by Melbourne at the MCG in an elimination final, feeling the cold embrace of irrelevance once again.
This was Chris Scott’s seventh season in charge, and with each ticking second of the clock since the conclusion of his debut season in 2011, the club has got further and further away from premiership success.
The Cats scraped into the finals this season in eighth spot, with 13 wins and nine losses. It was a noticeable decline from 2017, when they finished second – missing the minor premiership by percentage alone.
Less than one month ago, Geelong announced the decision to re-sign Scott until 2022.
A wise man once said “If you ain’t first, you’re last” and it’s a credo that’s served the world’s greatest athletes well.
Everyone from Steve Prefontaine to Mike Tyson has embraced the philosophy of maximum success at every chance possible – it’s a shame that Geelong clearly doesn’t feel that way under Scott.
Under Scott, Geelong have enjoyed a period of borderline unprecedented competitive stability – finishing in the top two on six occasions in the last decade.
Despite booking themselves a spot at the dinner table each September, they have enjoyed premiership success just once this decade – 2011.
Since then it’s been three finals wins, a staggering run of 11 losses, and nothing but frustration for fans.
Geelong are a long way away from firing Scott, because regular finals appearances and competitive stability put bums on seats, keep membership numbers healthy and suggets a reputation for developing quality football.
With Scott’s system offering all of this so far, as an organisation, the club is smiling.
But what about out on the field and what about at the very cutting edge of the sport? Where the best footy is played, where the magic happens?
Competitive stability is fantastic from a financial perspective but what does that mean when the aim of the game is to a win the flag?
If Scott is to reach the end of his current contract with another string of top-eight finishes but no premiership, would fans be happy? Satisfied?
Of course not.
So why settle for that kind of record now?
Premierships require a certain brand of x-factor and the Cats had that special sauce in droves this season. Premierships also require risk-taking, something Geelong are unwilling to do – symbolised in the recruitment of Gary Ablett Jnr above all else.
Ablett, the greatest player of the modern era, returned to the club this season and was joined by Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan, Tom Stewart and Tom Hawkins.
That reads like the Golden State Warriors starting five in the minds of most.
But wait, there’s more. Tim Kelly was incredible this season. Sam Menegola is a fine footballer, as is Zach Tuohy, Scott Selwood, Harry Taylor, Daniel Menzel, Mark Blicavs, Cameron Guthrie and Lachie Henderson.
All of those names, out on the deck together at once, and the best they can muster is 6.10 (46) against a Melbourne side with no finals experience whatsoever outside of Jordan Lewis? Come on!
Scott has blooded plenty of young players this season – I’ll gladly give him credit for those selections – but the with the average age and shape of his list, can we envision them going further next season?
Ablett is the oldest player in the AFL. Dangerfield and Joel Selwood are both in the top bracket of midfielders but have likely reached their final evolutions. The same can be said for a number of the other mature footballers listed.
So when does Geelong finally decide that near enough is in fact, not good enough? Under the current command, I’m not sure that they will, and unless we see some drastic change, there are plenty more pre-finish-line collapses on the horizon.