Sunday, April 17, 2011

Footy Almanac Sydney v Geelong Rd 4 2011

Round 4 Sydney v Geelong  SCG April 16 2011

Friday arvo.
Chris SMS’s seeking counsel for her footy tips.
“Cats or Swans?” reads her succinct question.
Three wins from three has convinced me the Cats are the real deal still and not even the fact that the game is at the SCG dents my confidence.
“Cats” I reply.
“Na, I’m going with the Swans” she shoots back.
Why did she ask if she’s not gonna listen I wonder?
Oh well, her loss!

Saturday night.
I have to work late and the game starts before I knock off. Thank goodness for the good old tranny, wedged next to the bus window as I complete the last route 50 for the night.
Apparently it’s been raining for the last 24 hours in Sydney and the commentators are predicting a tough tight low-scoring game. Hang on, this is a Swan’s game, what else would they be predicting?

No Geelong fan needs or wants to be reminded about what happened last time we played at the SCG but that of course is exactly what every tv, radio and newspaper commentator does in the lead up to the game.
My mate Mike just says two words whenever the Cats play the Swans.

“Nick Davis”

They still stab like a knife.
2005 semi-final.
In one of the great individual finals performances, the afore-mentioned former Magpie kicked four goals in the last quarter including the last one with three seconds left to steal the game from the devastated Cats. I’ve had many bad days as a Cats supporter and that one ranks right up there with the worst of them.
Ironically, two weeks later I was lucky enough to be at the MCG and barracked hard for the Swans as they beat West Coast in the ’05 Grand Final. You can’t accuse me of being bitter!

Tonight the Cats start well and kick the first two goals. Menzel’s side-stepping effort impresses the ABC team. Go Cats I say to the empty bus. Stevie J defies gravity and the soaking conditions to pull down a screamer. The Cats are on fire but the tide soon turns. The Swans start to get on top and kick four of the next five goals to lead at quarter time.
It’s starting to sound like the soggy slogging game everyone predicted.

By the start of the second quarter I’ve clocked off and am heading for home but it’s a half hour drive to Ocean Grove so Dan Lonergan and the Grandstand team are my eyes and ears at the game. By the sound of their description Geelong are having the better of it but typically the Swans refuse to be shaken off. They are more dogged than the Dogs and have been for years.
Finally the Cats dominance of possession pays off and late goals to Chappy and Wojo give us a 13 point lead at the main break.
By then I’m home and can watch the second half.
That ought to be good news but somehow being able to see what’s going on doesn’t bring me comfort.
It’s tense and so am I. Yes the Cats are doing well but as I remind Sport Boy, so were the Eagles last week until Sydney stormed home in the last ten minutes courtesy of an Adam Goodes inspired revival and two goals from Andrejs Everitt.
Perhaps I should take comfort from the fact Everitt is subbed off but the much vaunted “super-sub” Gary Rohan takes his place so there’s no room for comfort. As long as the scores remain this close I’m worried.
The spectre of 2005 seems ever-ready to rise out of the SCG basement and create another nightmare for Geelong.

Both sides kick 2:4 in the 3rd quarter, the lead is still 13 and the game is still in the balance. When Kennedy kicks the first goal of the final quarter my pulse quickens several beats. The Swans will not be denied!

Then comes blessed red-headed relief, Lingy goals for the Cats to restore the two goal margin. Not long after the J-Pod  snaps truly and I breathe a little easier. He’s taken some great marks in the wet conditions tonight only to undo his good work by missing “easy” shots for goal, thank goodness this one’s gone through.
 The real star of the night is Bomber Wojicinski whose dashing runs and long bomb goals on the run belie both weather and age.

The Cats are safe. Not even Nick Davis could catch us now.
Four from four to start the season, three of them against finalists from last season. The signs are good. Go Cats.

3 Wojcinski  2 Kelly   1 Scarlett

Footy Almanac: Geelong V Port Adelaide: Rd 3 2011

Round Three Geelong V Port Adelaide  Kardinia Park   April 10 2011

Our first game at home this season, Kardinia Park that is, our real home. It has been a fortress for the last four seasons; another win today will make it 24 on the trot. The papers have done their best to spruik the game by reminding us that the last team to beat Geelong at the Cattery was Port, in round 21 2007. That game is memorable personally for three reasons.
  1. I was on roster at the local art gallery back in Busselton so I couldn’t watch it. I took a portable telly with me but the reception was horrendous and the game was just a swirling blur of black and white static. At least the sound was clear.
  2. Port lead for much of the game but the Cats looked like they had snatched a dramatic victory when Gary Ablett danced his way around 3-4 Port defenders to slot a brilliant goal with less than two minutes left.
  3. Domenic Cassissi spoiled the party by kicking an equally dramatic if anti-climactic winner with about 10 seconds to go. Subsequent analysis blamed a fumble from Henry Playfair for giving him the ball and the chance to be Port’s hero. Coincidence or not, Henry never played for the Cats again, being traded to Sydney at the end of the season and not even their famed recycling resurrection powers could save his career.

Geelong and Port met again a few weeks later in the famous drought breaking Grand Final and since then have travelled hugely divergent paths.

So far in 2011 Port are in trouble and the Cats have started well.

Before the game Max Rooke does a lap of honour in the back of a Ford.
He is a crowd favourite and receives a rousing reception. Injections of calf blood in Germany enabled him to heal from a serious hamstring injury and take his place in the 2007 premiership side and in the epic ’09 Grand Final Maxie kicked the first and last goals of the game. Sadly 2010 was ruined by injury and in the end his body said “Enough”. Geelong are a pretty strong team physically but all of us miss Max’s toughness, he was the nearest thing we had to an enforcer.

This game starts slowly. Marred by inaccuracy and missed chances and at quarter time the scores are pretty close. After quarter time it becomes one way traffic as the Cats set about pummelling an ineffectual Port. 62 inside 50s to 22 and 15 goals to 5 in Geelong’s favour, end of story.
James Kelly seems to be relishing his greater midfield opportunities and tackles everything that moves. Steve Johnson kicks a typical Stevie J goal.
New coach Chris Scott has performed his first miracle: keeping Brad Ottens fit and on the ground and that makes a huge difference to the whole team. Mark Blake may be destined never to play his 100th game; this week Tom Hawkins takes 2nd ruck duties and does a reasonable job. Cat’s fans have had to be patient with the Tomahawk but the experts always say big blokes need longer and I’m prepared to give him the time he needs to develop. I like him a lot.

By half time it’s clear the Cats will win and a little bit of the sting goes out of the game. There’s a procession of goals and goal kickers and all the kids who’ve been selected give a good account of themselves. Daniel Menzel in particular has good goal sense and that rare quality of “time with ball in hand”. Some players always seem rushed and under pressure but Menzel doesn’t and he kicks a couple of goals.
Jimmy Bartel has started the season on fire and takes six contested marks and kicks two goals. Only Moons and the J-Pod are quiet, in fact big Cam ends up at centre half back. Versatility seems to be one of Chris Scott’s strategies as he employs subtle rather than radical changes.

Port leave Kardinia Park empty handed and the gulf between the two teams seems as wide as ever.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good News and Good News

Sorry I haven't written my Footy Almanac report on the Geelong v Port Adelaide game yet but the Cats won, easily. More to follow...

Good news pt. 2: I have lost 5kg since starting my COATC (Cut Out All The Crap) diet. I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped on the scales this morning to see that I have dropped down to just under 104 kg from a starting weight of a little under 110kg. Sorry about the approximations but my scales are not that easy to read! I got off and got back on just to check because the last couple of times I've weighed myself there has been almost no change. But I'm confident that I've dropped 5kg so far. My target weight is 90kg so I've got a fair way to go but I'm encouraged by the progress.
I have had occasional treats, a cherry ripe last week for instance and two bowls of low-fat ice cream in the last two months but compared to the daily indulgence in cakes, pasties, lollies and ice cream which had been my norm for a long time it has been a significant change. Interestingly, when I do allow myself a small treat, eg.a couple of squares of (dark) chocolate, A: I feel a little guilty and B: I don't feel the need to eat more and more.

I haven't yet gotten into any regular exercise so there is plenty of scope to accelerate the weight loss if and when that happens.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Buy Your Gas on the Way out of Town, Not the Way in

 Same sign, same time,same day, different sides
I know which price I'd prefer

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Footy Almanac: Round Two. Fremantle v Geelong

Round Two  Fremantle V Geelong  Subiaco  Saturday April 2 2011  

The footy talk all week has centred on concussion. So much so it’s given me a headache to rival the one Joel Selwood copped courtesy of Farren Ray’s hip last week. The media speculate all week: Will Selwood play? Much as I love having him in the team I really hope the Cats play it safe and don’t pick him to play the Dockers. Why take the risk, especially when it involves flying to Perth and back? I’m relieved when the news comes through that he’s not playing but am less thrilled to hear that both Mooney and Lonergan are out too! With Scarlett already serving a week’s penance we’ll be significantly under-manned in the backline. On the strength of this and home ground advantage I’ve tipped Fremantle. On the plus side Ling is back and Chappy will line up for his 200th game. 

The warm up game on TV is a sad affair with Gold Coast being given a stark reminder that this is the BIG League and no amount of gun recruits and first round draft picks can make up for lack of experience. It looks like being a long slow learning experience for the Suns.  The fortunes in the actual curtain-raiser at Subi are more encouraging. My WAFL team East Perth kick three goals in the last four minutes and snatch an unlikely victory against reigning VFL premiers North Ballarat in the Foxtel Cup.  Having lived in WA for the last 38 years before a recent move back to Victoria it is the first Geelong game at Subiaco I haven’t been to in 20 odd years.  

So to the main event: the Cats and the Dockers. Emergencies Menzel, Guthrie and debutante Christensen line up for the Cats as Chappy leads the boys out and tosses the coin.   Sandilands and Ottens go head to head for the entire game with the jolly purple giant winning most of the taps but the Cats sharking well to lead the centre clearance count.  Freo make the early running and kick the first couple of goals. Pavlich is on fire in the first quarter but Chris Scott swings Lingy on to him at quarter time and that severely restricts his impact on the game. Late in the term the Cats start to find their range with Stevie J refusing to do things simply and Menzel looking like an inspired inclusion. Geelong by 5 points at the break and I’m encouraged rather than confident.

Geelong look like they’re getting on top in the second and manage to get out to a 22 point lead before the Dockers claw them back. Kepler Bradley has three goals and at half time the margin has been cut to three pints. It’s a good game, a vast improvement on last week’s dour struggle with the Saints. 

Half way through the third quarter there is a cataclysmic collision between Steve Johnson and Mt Sandilands. I feel the earth move from 3000 kilometres away! In an act that inspires groans and then amazement Johnno bounces straight up and chases after the ball. The biggest man ever to play football has failed to stop him and I begin to think it might just be our night.  Ballantyne is making a pest of himself as usual. He sucked Lingy in earlier which gifted Pavlich a goal and now he’s looking like a match-winner, bursting through packs and kicking a goal from 50.  Every time Geelong kick a goal the Dockers get a quick reply.
We’re 9 points up at the last change but by no means safe.

Our recent record in Perth is very good but this is not the Dockers of old. They’ve put a number of their old stars out to pasture and the kids like Hill, Suban and Fyfe seem to have sparked a new lease of life in the likes of Mundy McPharlin and McPhee. Will the heat and the travel take its toll or can we hang on?  Ottens twice has chances to kick goals that would make us safe and twice misses. I expect nothing less, as a forward Brad makes an excellent ruckman. At the other end Mayne misses twice as well before Pavlich, playing his 238th game to equal Shane Parker’s games record for the Dockers, lines up a very gettable shot but also misses. As a commentator said, “There’s no such thing as a captain’s point” and I feel my hopes rising. 
Enright has been brilliant all night and once again clears for the Cats. The ball travels the outer wing and ends up in the hands of Matthew Stokes who coolly and calmly slots the winner. We’re home by 11 points and there is much rejoicing in the lounge room at Ocean Grove.  
The boys chair Chappy off the ground to the applause of the small band of WA based Cats fans. It’s a suitably hard-fought win that matches the milestone man’s own tough character. 

Votes 3 Enright 2 Ling 1 Ballantyne