Is the party finally over for Geelong?

Last night’s 110 point drubbing at the hands of Sydney confirmed a silent feeling I’ve had about Geelong for a while. A feeling I’ve kept close to my chest because I don’t want to believe it. It’s a feeling that the great run since 2007 is finally coming to a slow end.

Last night the cats were completely battered. Slaughtered in the middle and in defence. The Swans ran rings around them while the usual suspects, Selwood, Bartel, Kelly and Johnson, did their best to stem the bleeding, but to no avail.

It would be easy and comforting to pass this off as just a bad night – and I really hope this turns out to be the case. But I doubt it. The signs have been there for a while.

In the wake of last night’s loss, a friend of mine left a message saying that it’s an unfortunate reality check for the cats. The inevitable reality that comes with being up for so long – it can’t last forever. He noted that Geelong have about a dozen really good players, a few also rans, and some spare parts. My initial thought was to put this guy back in his box and point out that only fools write off this great side and that he just has sour grapes – he is a doggies supporter, after all.

Yet in my heart of hearts, I couldn’t help but find some truth in what he said. I left no reply.

I thought about his comment while reading the match report this morning. It made for interesting reading. I looked at Geelong’s top ranked players last night and I couldn’t help but ponder my mate’s reading of the play.

Consider the top players last night:

Joel Selwood

Jimmy Bartel

Harry Taylor

Steve Johnson

Mitch Duncan

James Kelly

I’ll note that Corey Enright and Tom Lonergan were out last night – but they’re usually in the mix. McIntosh, Stokes, Mackie, and Varcoe made up the rest of the top ten. The usual names, apart from maybe Tom Hawkins, who fluctuates from top rank to bottom rank by the week. These are the guys who get the job done week in, week out. But that’s also the problem – Geelong no longer have the depth underneath.

The rest of the list consistently appear in the middle to lower rankings every week: Horlin-Smith, Motlop, Rivers, Guthrie, Simpson, Stringer, Murdoch, Sherringham etc. Granted, most of these players are only young, and I believe Guthrie and Horlin-Smith have lengthy careers ahead of them, and Murdoch has shown plenty of promise.

Yet in the context of premiership talk for 2014-15, these blokes don’t quite cut it. It’s the Selwoods, Bartels, Taylors and Johnsons getting the cats home every week. Without their heavy lifting, the cats fall down.

Granted, there are superstars in every team who lift their side over the line. Yet premiership teams are defined by their depth, particularly the quality of their middle and lower tier players. I suspect that Geelong’s crop in this category is too underdeveloped. They’re by no means terrible, in fact they’re serviceable players, but serviceable is not enough in September.

The club sits neatly perched at 7-3 nearing the midway point of the season. Apart from the victory against Hawthorn, their wins have not been convincing, and they have been significantly beaten by Port Adelaide and Sydney. In both games, Geelong were outclassed.

All dynasties start with a symbolic beginning, and looking back on this great era, I can pinpoint the very day that it all began. It was the emphatic 157 point victory against Richmond in round six, 2007. Prior to that, the cats had a win-loss record of 2-3 and their season was looking like it could be a repeat of 2006. After that, Geelong enjoyed a fifteen game winning streak before going on to win three flags, play in four grand finals, and fall agonisingly short in last year’s preliminary final.

I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect last night’s 110 point loss is the symbolic end. The day that the inevitable passage of time caught up with this great team. Consider the stars that have been lost through the years: Ablett, Scarlett, Corey, Mooney, Milburn, Harley, Ling, Rooke, Chapman, Wojcinski, Ottens – hard to replace.

So if this really is the end, let me be the first to say, thank you Geelong. Thank you for what you have been. From the boy who grew up worshipping your team and always praying for that dreadful premiership drought to end, thank you. Thank you for the three premierships, the Brownlow medalists, the seventeen All-Australian players, the 147 wins in 183 matches – thank you. It’s been better than I could have dreamed.

The punters have written Geelong off several times during the past glory years. The 2009 grand final was seen by many as their final shot at the big prize. Likewise, at the end of 2010, Geelong was football’s forgotten club after Ablett jetted north and Bomber Thompson returned home. The cats then went on to claim the 2011 premiership. After a modest sixth finish in 2012, the pundits again called Geelong’s demise before they rose again to reach within five points of Hawthorn in last year’s epic preliminary final.

Can they do it again? Does this great team have one final chapter to write in one of the game’s most epic dynasties? Sadly, as one of Geelong’s most passionate fans, I think the story might finally be over. But heck, what a story it has been.

5 Comments on Is the party finally over for Geelong?

  1. I agree with these points somewhat.

    Depth isn’t there at present. And if you look at the gap between top players and bottom, it is large.

    But then again, if you look at the likes of Motlop, Guthrie, Murdoch, CHRISTENSEN etc, I would say they are well ahead of rookies floating around at other clubs. Out of all of them, I would say GHS has the longest career ahead of him.

    Let’s just remember that this is a side, which you have quite correctly pointed out has a few serious issues, yet somehow still sits in a very enviable position on the ladder.

    It’s a bizarre situation when you really think about it. Cats should have been down by now. Yearning for draft picks and rebuilding with the Doggies, St Kildas. Yet have defied the trend year in year out. I don’t think there’s anything to suggest they can’t do it again.

    Go Cats!

  2. Sorry mate, I think you denied my previous post?

    Was there a reason for that?

  3. Brilliantly written and unfortunately an accurate summary of this football clubs current situation and probable future. I concur with the sentiments of stopping and realising how amazing this era has been. In terms of actual measured success over the period of time, I would suggest right up there with the absolute great sides of all time.
    Like many things in life we have wait until we have lost something before we truly fathom how good we had it. Winning has become expected, almost guaranteed at times, and this will soon come to an end.

  4. Ha, it is the end >:D

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