My effort at reporting on the Hawthorn game is below but if you want to read some brilliant writing about the same game, go here and see what John Harms had to say.
It started out as a day of no-shows.
First, Sport Boy’s mate Dylan piked it on the morning of the game. (That family membership I bought with the extra kid’s ticket has been a waste of money so far.)
We caught the early train so we could hook up with Darlow at the Hilton for a drink before the game but that also fell through. His apologetic text read “Sick kids going mental, I’m losing my mind. Call U later, I’m not gonna make it”.
Ditching the Hilton plan we settle on a gluten-free microwave meal from 7-11 and a kick in the park outside the MCG.
Not surprisingly the kick-to-kick was better than the food.
There was a huge crowd making there way to the ground and gold and brown seemed to be the predominant colours.
The third no-show of the day was the Cats in the first 10 minutes.
They were nowhere to be found and it was Buddy Franklin in full flight.
The Hawks had 4:2 on the board before we troubled the goal umps and Sport Boy and I were quiet and pensive.
Chris Scott moved Lonergan onto Buddy: enjoy your day Tom!
The first glimmer of hope came when Tomahawk out-muscled Josh Gibson to mark and goal. We started to breathe again.
More goals followed and by some sort of Easter miracle we were only a point behind at quarter time.
Turnovers and missed shots hurt us badly in the first half: mistakes from Milburn, Varcoe and Selwood all lead directly to Hawk’s goals and they were out to a 16 point lead before Joel redeemed himself to kick our only goal of the 2nd quarter.
The game washard and tough and fast and furious and neither side was giving an inch. In other words it was a typical Geelong v Hawthorn game.
In the mid noughties Sydney and West Coast fought out a succession of thrillers.
Since the 08 Grand Final it has been the Cats and the Hawks turn to deliver epic encounters with single digit margins. By equal measures of luck and determination the Cats have triumphed in the last four battles but I’d gladly trade all those victories for the 08 flag.
That can’t happen of course so I’ll settle for another victory today but right now I’m not feeling confident.
In the third quarter Chance Bateman set the Hawks alight with a couple of goals, one a brilliant snap from the pocket and my anxiety levels were climbing again.
Then, someone flipped a switch and the Cats suddenly unleashed the sort of stunning 5 goal burst they were renowned for in the premiership years.
Fast, direct, daring up-the-guts footy launched by Scarlett, Enright and Taylor and finished off by Varcoe, Ling, Bartel and Duncan. Suddenly the Cats were 22 points in front and looking a million dollars.
Hawthorn responded with the last two goals of the quarter to narrow the margin and constrict the lungs.
They kept coming at the start of the last quarter and the margin was less than a goal. This wasn’t fun. This was becoming unbearable in that exquisitely painful way only a close game of footy can be.
Lonergan had done a brilliant job on Franklin but when he slotted one from the boundary the Hawks looked capable of pinching the game.
Joel Selwood must have sensed the same thing because he refused to be beaten at the ensuing centre bounce and forced the ball to James Kelly who dobbed the immediate reply from the 50.
A small wave of calm washed over me; I knew at that moment we were going to win. When Duncan finished off some great work by Menzel and J-Pod goaled from the boundary line a minute later it was just the icing on the banana cake. The Cats were home: played 5, won 5. Chris Scott must think coaching is easy. Scarlo was chaired off in triumph for his 250th.
We missed the last footy special so Sport Boy and I indulged in a curry at our favourite Indian restaurant before catching the Warnambool train back to Geelong.
3 Lonergan 2 Taylor 1 Scarlett