Ever heard the saying “aging like fine wine?”
I’ve heard my Dad say that to my Mum, in a romantic instance, obviously.
But I can’t help but think about that saying today, at Kardinia Park, about my Dad and Tom Hawkins.
They’ve got a lot in common, actually.
My Dad was a forward, just like Tomahawk, but shorter.
Dad played 300 games for his club Power House, in the Victorian Amateur Football Association and kicked a record 15 goals in one game.
Tomahawk is one of the greatest modern-era forwards and has constantly improved, reinvented and adapted his game to keep up with the ever-changing style of Aussie Rules.
They’re both outstanding Dads too.
We head down the highway to Geelong to watch the Cats, a tradition that has become so woven into the fabric of me and Dad’s existence, like my Dad’s wisdom has been woven into my existence too.
The afternoon is dead silent, the Premiership flags do not flutter profusely and the mist sets over the setting sun of Kardinia Park.
For some reason, I, the eternal realist, am not nervous.
I don’t tell Dad or he’ll shut me down and tell me to think logically.
He’d say something like- “they match up well against us”.
And then I’ll remember when they beat us last year. When Harry Taylor missed a goal and then I’ll be hungrier to show the Dogs why a visit down the highway is never fun.
That’s my internal dialogue, but I say nothing and we sit in silence.
Instead, Dad asks me to get him a soft drink. I swear he said ‘Coke’ but I’ve heard wrong.
Uncle James laughs, he tells me that my Dad has never liked Coke.
“Fanta, Passiona, Creaming Soda, but never Coke,” Uncle James tells me.
Wise for remembering that, Uncle James, I think.
Darcy Fort is a wise mature-aged recruit. He is fitting in nicely in the first term. Wise from Steven Wells to pick him up.
He plays like a young Hawkins. He is steady, tall and has a strong leg on him. He can only get better.
The Cats are too poised in the first half. Every time the Dogs get close, Gary Rohan or Gary Ablett will do something spectacular.
Stewart and his men are holding their own too, up to half time.
We stand for the third quarter behind our seats. Me, Dad and Uncle James. We talk about both Abletts and the miracles that I’m so jealous they get to experience with both Senior and Junior.
“I only got to see Junior” I jokingly whinge to the two men who have been the biggest influences in my life.
“You have seen as many premierships as we have and you’re only 18!” Dad laughs.
Too wise and very witty. They got me there.
The Dogs have had a stellar comeback. Their clearance work is really hurting us, with the like of Marcus Bontempelli and Mitch Wallis dominating across the forward half.
We barely hold a 15-point lead at the final break.
The Doggies come hard for the first 15 minutes of the final term, like Dad wisely told me they would.
But we come out of first gear and put on a late fourth quarter show.
We win by 44 points. Never in doubt, I joke.
Mitch Duncan booted three, quietly achieving like usual. It was also good to see Ryan Abbott back, trying something different.
Ablett is Ablett and Kelly grinds through the midfield.
Tom Hawkin’s, who booted four magnificent goals, is playing a new style and he is getting wiser with age too, just like my Dad and Uncle James.
I remember when he was young. He had spurts of brilliance up forward. But now, his role is cemented in this growing Cats side.
Once Geelong’s only key forward, is now the leeway for many others, like Gary Rohan and even Esava Ratugolea, leading form the front.
I like the way he has become wiser with age.
Dad and Uncle James’ footy knowledge and general life advice becomes wiser each week too.
I consider myself lucky that I get to hang out with them and learn what makes them tick each week.
I hope that as I age too, I will be just as wise at Dad, Uncle James and even Tom Hawkins.
But one thing will never change.
The footy. Dad, Uncle James, Aunty Maz and me.
New stories. Same old faces. Aging like fine wine.
GEELONG 6.2 11.4 15.6 21.7 (133)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1. 7.6 12.9 13.11 (89)
Geelong: Hawkins 4, Rohan 3, Fort 3, Duncan 3, Ablett 2, Dangerfield, Parfitt, Guthrie, Abbott, Miers, Constable
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 2, Wallis 2, McLean, Trengove, Johannisen, Naughton, Lloyd, Gowers, Hunter, Liberatore, Richards
Geelong: Duncan, Dangerfield, Hawkins, Selwood, Stewart, Ablett
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Wallis, Smith, Bontempelli, McLean
Geelong: Stanley (adductor) replaced in selected side by Fort, Dangerfield (right ankle)
Western Bulldogs: Suckling (right calf/Achilles)
Umpires: Foot, Rosebury, Mollison
Official crowd: 31,373 at GMHBA Stadium