Monday, May 23, 2011

Cats v Blues @ Docklands: Footy Almanac

Carlton v Geelong Rd 9 Docklands

May 22, 2011 @ 10:38 pm posted by Marcus Holt
Preparation for this game started months ago.
As soon as the AFL fixtures came out and I saw that my roster had me finishing work at 2031 that night. Too late.
I needed to find someone who would swap a shift with me.
I needed someone who’s not a footy fan. Billy was my man. He was happy to forgo a 5th consecutive day of Deakin Expresses for a late finish on Friday night. Not only that, he made up the balance of hours by doing my last couple of runs on Monday night, freeing me up to pick Mum up from Avalon airport.
There was a setback when the game threatened to be a sell-out and the only way to secure seats as a Geelong member was to get there when the gates opened. Even with an earlier shift that wasn’t possible. Enter Favourite Daughter and Sport Boy: their mission- get to Docklands early and save me a seat.
I finished the last run of the day, resisting the temptation to tilt the bus to tip the last few passengers out at Geelong station and ten minutes later I was on my way up the Princes Freeway and headed for the footy.
I found a park in my usual place, made the dash up the stairs at Southern Cross and headed for Docklands and a rendezvous at Aisle 41 Row N.
I was especially keen to get there in time for the pre-game tribute to Bob Davis. The word icon is used way too easily these days but in this instance it is the perfect description for Woofa, The Geelong Flier who passed away earlier in the week. The minute’s silence was powerful and emotional.
The game starts and Carlton jump us early. The ball is camped inside their forward 50 and they have two goals on the board before we’ve even crossed the half way line. It’s not a good start but I’m not worried. The Hawks jumped us and we got them in the end, we’ve been finishing games really strongly.
Sure enough we kick a couple of goals but the pattern is established. Carlton break away and we reel them in. They look good and we’re playing catch-up. The Blues move the ball quickly and effectively with Murphy the driving force. Kelly is outstanding for the Cats. Put these two in a room together with a footy and no-one gets out alive.
A dubious free kick and goal to the Cats just before the main break and the scores are tied.
Some things in football are 100% predictable. Tonight it is that Darren Milburn will get roundly booed every time he touches the ball, and Joel Selwood will get the most free kicks and the Carlton fans will howl and moan at the injustice. Never mind that he goes where angels fear to tread and the ball is always his object.
Half time brings an unexpected question.
“How come your son doesn’t have a fishing rod?”
The enquiry comes from a big burley Blues fan sitting next to Sport Boy.
His name is Raff and he is friendly, engaging and good company, and seemingly equally passionate about the Blues and fishing.
I tell him my interest in fish only extends as far as eating them. He confides he’d rather catch them than eat them. I see a beautiful relationship forming!
The game restarts and the battle is rejoined. It’s a high standard game and the Cats need someone to stand up and break the game open. As if on cue, Travis Varcoe realises it is Indigenous round and this is his stage. He kicks the first three goals of the third quarter as a result of that most wonderful combination, speed and skill. The Blues hit back and Geelong lead by 7 at the last change.
The Cats had suggested they were about to run away with the game but one Blue has other plans and a certain dual Brownlow medallist threatens to win the game on his own. I’m sure he limped off with an ankle injury late in the second quarter but you’d never know when he kicks a brilliant goal to start the last quarter and follows up with a pinpoint pass to Simpson moments later and it is well and truly game on.
Can anything or anyone stop Chris Judd when he sets his mind to a task?
In the hour of need Chappy and Stevie J can always be relied upon. They both kick goals and the Cats grab back the lead.
Two defining moments bring the game to a thunderous crescendo.
The first is when Steve Johnson climbs high for a pack mark at full forward and is eclipsed by the soaring shadow of James Podsiadly who comes from four deep to fly even higher and pull down a screamer. I immediately look at Sport Boy and we share the same thought without having to say a word. Seven nights ago the JPod missed three dead-set sitters against the Magpies from about the same position. What would he do this time with the game again in the balance?
We needn’t have worried. He put it through the big sticks although the replay revealed the ball had helicoptered back from outside the left hand goalpost to get there. Cats by 10 and not long to go surely.
Carlton respond and Jarrad Waite goals shortly after. Cats by 4.
Andrew walker has a set shot from just inside 50 and misses.
Cats by 3.
Nerves fraying.
Then comes the final decisive moment. Corey Enright tries to spoil and succeeds only in clouting Blues ruckman Robbie Warnock in the head.
Free kick. 15 metres out, bit of an angle. The result rests on the big man’s shoulders but unbeknownst to anyone at the time, he is not a well boy. In fact he spends the night in hospital with concussion. Armed with this knowledge his miss to the left for a point is perfectly understandable. Never-the-less, at the time all we know is the Cats are clinging to a 2 point lead and in need of another hero.
Matty Scarlett volunteers for the job with two game saving marks in the heart of the Carlton forward line. The Cats clear the ball to half forward.
The siren goes.
I jump out of my seat in relief and joy and give myself a headspin.
We’ve won again.
Another thriller.
Saints by 1, Pies by 3 and now the Blues by 2.
What a ride!
“We are Geelong” rings out and I fancy Bobby Davis is grinning from ear to ear.
I swap phone numbers with Raff and picture a juicy snapper for dinner.
Votes: Kelly 3, Selwood 2, Murphy 1

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