You write this team off at your peril

Am I referring to Hoy and Team GB?   Yes, absolutely  but also to someone else.   This is what one of the scribes wrote:

There are no superlatives too effusive for such a game, be sparing in your criticism of anyone you think might be over the top about such a magnificent contest. It had everything.

The Hoy team excitement last evening was richly deserved and the country can be proud.  This post now though is about a different game, 10,000 miles away.

Let me paint the picture. I admit I went a bit overboard in my last post on Geelong and today they met their match. Whichever way it went, I had an appointment in town here and was then coming back to post on it. As you know, all teams have their eras, except for Man U and Barca and this is usually a ten year period, with the first five years being the team getting used to each other and maturing as players.

Then comes their golden era and if they’re going to win a championship, that’s when. For Geelong, that golden era was 2007-9. What usually happens is that as players age, they can do it in bursts but not for the full four quarters or two halves. So 2010 was meant to be up and down and so it was. The best player and coach left at the end of the season and new blood was brought in.

Nobody in the football world was expecting this bunch of geriatrics to get up and win in 2011, let alone compete and yet it’s rated as possibly their greatest year in their history. “Now finally,” asked the football world, “will you pains in the butt please lay down and die with dignity? You have your three flags, what more do you want?”

2012 has not been good. Much experimentation needed to be done, rookies were brought in for first games, the older set sustained injury after injury – Father Time will not be denied. They managed to cobble a few wins against middling and weak sides but the sight of young blood from other teams regularly running away with the ball, whilst our grandpas caught their breath, doubled over, hands on thighs, was an all too familiar sight.

By a few weeks back, they were mid table and staring down the barrel of an annus horribilis. In their last seven games for the season, they have to face six teams above them on the ladder, with four of those being rampaging medal contenders this year.

They beat one of them.

They beat a second one. OK, next week they were up against a class team.

They beat them. WTF?

The fourth one was today and let me quote the pundits:

Geelong kiss goodnight

DESPITE winning four of its past five games, it’s still hard to get a read on where Geelong is at. Recent wins over Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Essendon don’t count for much.   The win at home last week over Adelaide was good, but the Crows were without their dominant ruckman and key forward, and yet they still got within two points in the final quarter.

He conveniently forgets to mention injuries to Geelong’s key ruckmen and other stars, with only half the team the premiers of last year.   Never mind:

The real test will be tonight, when the Cats try to match it against the hottest team in town. The Hawks have won eight straight and are playing a scintillating brand of football. I will be very surprised if the Cats get within five goals of the premiership favourites.

Geelong is now a team in transition. It has had too many champions to completely fall away, but most of these stars have entered the twilight of their careers.

Again, WTF?   They were in the twilight of their careers in 2010.   How can they suddenly not be in the twilight of their careers last year and now they’re “entering” the twilight of their careers again?  Just how long can this “twilighting” business go on for?

Our team is made up of geriatrics and young kids frisking around the meadow.   There’s no longer any middling period player blending youth and maturity, barring the captain of course.

Look, OK, we’re probably not going to win, we’ll give it a shake and hold our heads up high – that was the sentiment as I had to go into town.   I had a quick look at the score.   Excuse my French but b***** me.   They were 9 goals to 2 up  but then the expected happened – the new champs slipped into gear and ran our blokes ragged.   From another newspaper:

The boxing analogy is apt, with the last 10 minutes of this match like watching Muhammad Ali leaning back on the ropes, absorbing brutal blows from the imposing figure of George Foreman in the 1975 Rumble in the Jungle title fight in Zaire.

The Cats were cast as the ageing Ali, digging deep into their reserves of experience and courage, trading blows and trying desperately to somehow manufacture a victory.

Oh my goodness, what high drama!   I held off my departure here to the last moment and yep, the other lot got their nose in front, with seconds to go.   Off I went to get the bike and paraphernalia, one last quick look before I went:

One of our lot must have kicked a pressure goal at the death.   Quick look – oh yessiree – it was our chronic goal-misser.    LOL.

Hawthorn players slumped to the ground in desolation as a Tom Hawkins kick on the final siren sailed through for his sixth goal of the game.   The manner of the loss will haunt Hawthorn for some time.

Oh man, this is beautiful, this is truly beautiful.   We seriously had zero right to win this clash when the opposition had been burying good teams by big margins in the last eight straight.   I keep rubbing the eyes and recounting the goals and behinds, the points – surely it’s a typo?

Bloody hell.   Seriously – what a team:

Geelong are now $9.00 for the flag. They were $33 less than a month ago.   Hawthorn remain form favourites at $2.50.

Yep, no need to get ahead of ourselves here – they still have the top two teams in the next few weeks.   But still, nice all the same:

The best game of the season by a big margin. It was end-to end, yet fierce in tight. All the stars shone, and a few lesser lights came to the fore in big moments. The drama in the last minutes was only matched by the brilliance of the Cats’ first quarter, or perhaps the perserverance of the Hawks to hit the front after trailing by nearly nine goals in the second quarter.

Neither team will feel it has lost anything from a premiership perspective. Pundits will say that the Cats will finish too low on the ladder to mount a challenge on the flag. Are you sure they are going to lose again this home and away season after seeing what they are capable of in the past three weeks?

Yes, sadly.   Just how long can a team play a Wembley final week after week after week after week and then come into the play-offs after that?   And yet this team has consistently fooled everyone, especially when they’re written off.

The Hawks will rightfully remain premiership favourites. They have vulnerabilities in the ruck, in defence and on the fringes, but they are marginal, and very few teams can exploit them.

Probably so.   Let’s wait and see.   I need a drink.    Bloomin eck.

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