When I was five, my father took me to my first football game. It was Richmond Vs. Brisbane. Surrounded by yellow and black, and coming from a Richmond family, it seemed I was destined to enter Tigerland from the moment I could breathe.
In hindsight, thank god I chose to be a Geelong supporter. Ironically enough, it was later that year, while watching Geelong destroy the same Brisbane Bears on the television, and after listening to a very persuasive, fanatical sports teacher at primary school, that I uttered the words to my parents: “I want to barrack for Geelong.”
To their credit, they granted me my choice. Not everyone is so fortunate. I’m glad that I’ve lived without the finishing ninth gags and the frequent false hope that comes with the yellow and black scarf. I’m also glad that I avoided the other option, my mother’s team, Carlton. What a miserable football life I could have led.
As we enter the 2016 season, the 29th season since my birth, it’s a good time to reflect on the reasons why choosing Geelong was a choice I cherish. There is much to look forward to this year. I have not been as excited for a season is some time.
1. Since the AFL began in 1990, Geelong have won the most games, by far!
Geelong’s record has been phenomenal. In 25 completed seasons of AFL football, the Cats have contested seven grand finals for three premierships, played in 17 finals series, 11 in which they’ve reached at least the preliminary final, and they boast a clearly superior winning rate of 63 per cent. They rightly have claim to being the best team in AFL history.
2. The 2007-current team is the best side of the modern era
I nearly wrote the 2007-2013 team, but it dawned on me that Geelong are still in contention this year, so who knows, maybe it’s not all over yet. People will spit out arguments about how Brisbane won three in a row, how Hawthorn went back-to-back-to-back, but when one looks at the facts, it’s undeniable that the 2007-11 team was superior.
Brisbane never dominated their premiership seasons, in fact, they never finished on top of the ladder in any of their premiership years. They dropped games throughout the year. Geelong’s premiership years were marked by consistent, sustained dominance. That, and Brisbane never had to deal with losing their best player and their coach.
However, Hawthorn did lose their best player, yet their era has been inconsistent. They dropped out of the eight and floated around for a while, whereas the cats have consistently remained in contention. Sorry Lions and Hawks fans, but you sit below the dais, looking up at the cats!
3. They just won’t drop
I love it when the punters write Geelong off at the start of every season. “Surely this year is the year the cats fall.” How many times have we heard it? Geelong have managed to defy football history. Even I have previously written them off, only to be proved so pleasurably wrong. With Dangerfield wearing the hoops this year, and fully fit players like Vardy and Menzel in the mix, the Cats can expect to contest once again!
4. Geelong produced the two best players of the modern era, or even all-time.
No prizes for guessing which two. Gary Ablett Snr and Gary Ablett Jnr. I still think Snr is better. The remarkable ability he had to excite and to turn a game is something I doubt I will ever see again. Meanwhile, I have never seen a player as consistently good as Ablett Jnr. His composure and raw talent is a marvel, even if now he’s doing it for the Suns up north. Yet as Cats fans showed by cheering his goals last year at Simmonds Stadium, we don’t hate him for it.
5. Even when Geelong are bad, they’re never that bad.
Interesting fact. Geelong is the only team in the entire history of league football to have never finished lower than 12th. Even in their mediocre years: 1998, 1999, 2001-3, 2006 (I know, not too many, right), they were always in finals contention for much of the season. I can’t imagine how Melbourne supporters do it every year. Or St. Kilda fans.
6. Geelong’s style of football is a marvel to watch
Geelong have always been renowned for their attacking, exciting style of play. Under Malcolm Blight during the 1990s they played for goals, and boy didn’t they kick a mountain of them. Once, in 1992, they managed to score over 200 points in consecutive weeks! In 2011, they beat Melbourne by 186 points only to come out and lazily put the Gold Coast away by 150 points the next week. Geelong, as their song famously says, play the game as it should be played. In 2007 they almost saved the game from itself. After the forgettable 2005-6 West Coast-Sydney era of defensive choking, the cats burst out of the blocks to produce the most attacking football the game has ever seen. Rival clubs were dumbstruck, and Port Adelaide suffered the ignominious humiliation of a 119 point Grand Final defeat.
7. Geelong are the only true local club left standing.
The days of suburban VFL football are long gone, but for Geelong fans, nothing has changed. The Cats still call Kardinia Park home – they always will. What’s also great is that they don’t lose there! Since 2007 they’ve dropped only three games at home – a remarkable achievement!
8. Records, records, records.
More than any other club, Geelong have an amazing string of records to their name:
- Highest score: 37.17.239 Vs. Brisbane – Round 7, 1992
- Longest winning streak: 23 matches – 1952-53
- Restricting a team to the lowest ever score: 0.1.1 – 1899
- Largest winning Grand Final margin: 119 points Vs. Port Adelaide – 2007
- The most wins in a grouping of 50 games; 100 games; 150 games; 200 games – respectively.
- Highest losing score: 25.13.163 Vs. Hawthorn – 1989 (when they lose, they do it in style)
- The highest score in a single season: 1992 – 3,558 – will probably never be broken!
- The only team to win 18+ games over three consecutive seasons: 2007-8-9.
9. Geelong’s monopoly in the sports media
It’s nice watching the footy knowing that there’s so many Cats fans in the media on your side: Sam Newman, Anthony Hudson, Dwayne Russell, Gerard Whateley, Billy Brownless, Jon Anderson. Also, for some reason, Victoria’s run of premiers have been passionate Geelong fans: Steve Bracks, Ted Baillieu, Dennis Napthine. Power to the Cats!
10. Look, we’re just bloody awesome, alright.
The best players to have played the game played for Geelong. The main VFL/AFL records are held by Geelong. The first Brownlow Medallist played for Geelong. The Brownlow medal was named after a player who played for….Geelong. Over the course of their history since 1859, accounting for VFA/VFL/AFL premierships, they have won 16 flags. They lay claim to the best team in the modern era. They have their own city, their own ground, their own people.
We, Geelong, make more money than any other club from our home games. We have built a model for success that rival clubs envy and try to replicate. I don’t mind saying that the Geelong Football Club is superior to all others, because we are.
As the 2015 season approaches and the doubters once again circle, I’ll leave you with a quote from the great poet, Lord Tennyson: