Tough week. Dad’s doing okay. Footy has our full attention now and that’s how we like it.
Geelong. Hopeful. Tigers. A big challenge. Nervous. Always.
Mentally I’m a bit all over the place. Changes and realisations in my own life are happening- and rapidly. It feels like it’s all bubbled over, which is okay, of course, but it’s a time that I’ll forget as the weeks roll on.
Tonight is the constant, however.
It grounds me, this footy business and reminds me that even when life moves quickly; fleetingly forgetting moments each second, the Cats – my team, will always have my back.
The Richmond night has a sting to it. One that will chill my dad and one that will unsettle me. Another constant, this Richmond air. But it’s the beauty, the essence and without the chill, there’d be no footy.
I left my beanie at home. Bugger. I tell Dad not to turn around. What good will it do me, anyway? I joke to myself, to mask the belief that this night will be filled with bad luck.
The arrival at the ‘G is not grand, it is not show stopping. We pace around the aisles and I word vomit out my nerves to Dad.
“Small forwards will kill us.”
“They like to play a scrap.”
“We just have to play the Geelong way and they won’t win, right?”
It’s a disgraceful first quarter. It’s a rugby scrap. Hard to watch. The Tigers like their taps and knocks and the skill is the sacrifice for this.
They’re up too, got us on the counter attack and made us pay in front of goal.
My stomach churns as the Tiger Army roar. Louder with every place, they will drown us on and off field tonight.
I change seats with Dad, to try and shake off the poor luck we seem to be having from that first quarter.
We believe in hoodoos and bad luck, because if I sit on the left of Dad and Ablett is doing something magical, I won’t move, even if I can’t see over the guy in front of me.
Surely, me sitting in the same seat is what’s helping the Cats put on a show in this second quarter.
It is a classy display. A different team to that one that took to the field about 30 minutes prior. I see traces of the Golden Era.
Unforgiving, ruthless, but beautiful, free flowing footy.
Only seconds before half time, a magnificent play unfolds. It’s Ablett, all the way. Then to Dangerfield, legs rolling, ever so gracefully. Goal. Dad’s crying.
Uncle James and Maz on Level 4 are crying too, I just know it.
A great comeback. Seven goals to none. Changed Geelong and I hope we can do it again in the second half.
The third quarter sees Richmond fans fleeting, but the Cats nation stand united. The more they boo Ablett, the more we cheer.
Danger does what he does best but it’s all about team cohesion tonight. I watch on in awe as Mark O’Connor holds his own, Gryan Miers finds the perfect spots and Mitch Duncan notches up another Best on Ground performance, surely.
Gary Rohan is ferocious. He hurts them. ‘Them’ being anyone in his path. It’s this attack in our forward line that we have desperately missed the past few seasons.
We add another 8 goals in that third term and ice the cake with one more in the final quarter, to take the four points, by 67 points.
Our ‘Misfit’ backline hold the Tigers to 37 points. 37 points. Only five goals. Their lowest score at the ‘G for a while, too.
I want to remember this game as one of the good ones. Richmond still hurt me and the Cats faithful, in 2017.
But as I turn my back on the MCG for another week, I feel an old piece of me left behind here.
One of hurt, frustration- the old Geelong and the old me.
Banished, as if life has said “it’s time to move on now, keep moving forward and let that pain go.”
It’s true. I will keep going. I will move on from the pain of the football years passed and hope this one is better.
Footy has and continues to be a constant in footy fanatics’ lives.
For the Cats believers, our footy has been something to be excited about so far. It’s something to look forward to each week. It’s our game that roots deeper than 120 minutes on field.
It’s the constant, that so many people spend years searching for.
I consider myself lucky that footy is my constant and now, a saviour. A place for an escape.
At home or faraway.
RICHMOND 2.1 2.4 3.6 5.7 (37)
GEELONG 0.2 7.4 15.8 16.8 (104)
Richmond: Butler, Castagna, Lynch, Martin, Naish
Geelong: Hawkins 4, Miers 3, Ablett 2, Ratugolea 2, Duncan, Dangerfield, Rohan, Stanley, Kelly
Richmond: Prestia, Cotchin, Martin, Houli
Geelong: Dangerfield, Duncan, Ablett, Kelly, Miers, Hawkins
Richmond: Vlastuin (hip)
Geelong: Ratugolea (hamstring)
Umpires: Stevic, Gavine, Whetton, Ryan
Official crowd: 65,214 at the MCG