Where even the ugly are loved
Geelong is the type of city that a tourist brochure may associate with the words "gateway to...." This basically means there is nothing interesting in the city itself, but nearby there might be something worth visiting.
Although Geelong has never appeared on any tourism advertising for Australia, local residents seem to have a strange affection for their home town, which is reflected in their obscene love of the Cats. They seem to have that small town mentality that sees life in a fishbowl as a great thing, and the big smokes like Melbourne as being a production line of grim and unhappy people.
Perhaps the small town mentality explains why Geelong fans are arguably the most positive of all Victorian clubs. Although this results in hero worship (even of ugly players) reaching unrealistic proportions, it also breeds the kind of eccentricity and creative flair that is shackled at critical clubs that demand accountability to tried and true methods. At Geelong, players have the confidence to showcase their individuality without fear that fans will turn on them. As a consequence, Geelong has produced some of the great individual players and feats alike. Furthermore, the club has drafted good players that other clubs would reject on aesthetic grounds.
King of them all was Gary Ablett. Gary kicked 9 goals in a losing grand final and 14 goals in a losing home and away game. In the 1993 season, he kicked 10 or more goals in a losing side on three separate occasions. He had the ability to mark on player's shoulders and his personal highlights package is arguably the greatest of all time.
It is also interesting to note that Geelong produced the first Aboriginal champion in the form of Polly Farmer. Despite being highly skilled, Aborigines have long struggled with the discipline that compelled them to curtail their natural flair. A club like Geelong was ideal for Polly as it extended him the freedom to showcase his talents. Rather than change Polly to suit the club, the club changed itself to suit him. Farmer's ability to handball as far as some players kicked revolutionised the game and created a new style of play at Geelong.
The Geelong club also launched the coaching career of Malcolm Blight. Freakishly skilled and flamboyant as a player, Blight fitted into the club like a hand in a glove. The fan's tolerance of individuality allowed him to be enigmatic, attacking, unaccountable and cutting-edge. Under his rein, the Cats appeared in four grand finals. Also under his rein, the club produced a list of all time club champions including names like Hocking, Ablett, Couch, Lidner, Hinkley, Brownless and Stonenam.
Of course such individualism is often frowned upon by stoic fans who often boast the cliché "a champion team will always defeat a team of champions". Geelong fans could rightly defend themselves by pointing out that when individualism and teamwork combine, the club has been unstoppably. The Cats hold the VFL/AFL record for the longest winning sequence; being undefeated for 23 games on end from 1951 to 52. In 1992, Geelong scored a League record of 37.17.239 in a one match and during the 1993 season, the club accumulated a league record of 3558 points. In 2007, the club recorded the largest grand final winning margin of 119 points. Also in in 2007, the club had a record of nine players named All Australians. Without doubt, there is no more beautiful sight in football than a Geelong team in all its attacking glory.
Aside from making Geelong unbeatable when on song, the passionate hometown support helps make the most out of the father/son drafting rule. Since the rule came into existence, Geelong has used it to draft champion players such as Gary Ablett Jr and Mathew Scarlett, as well as likely types in Blake, Hawkins, Callan, an Nathan Ablett. One possible explanation for Geelong having so much success is that there is nothing else to do in the city. Consequently, Geelong players spend relatively more time creating babies while other clubs spend more time at the theartre. The main problem with this explanation is that other clubs have players making plenty of babies; however, those babies have turned out to be useless as football players.
Perhaps the explanation for Geelong’s success is that the local culture's support raises the sons up to a standard higher than their athletic prowess alone warrants. Based upon early assessments of the sons, this definitely seems to have occurred with some of them. For example, in his early years, Gary Ablett Jr was rated an average player than perhaps wouldn't have been drafted if he had had a different name. Once at Geelong; however, fans keep showering him with praise about his old man's achievements that eventually he was able to emulate him.
Contrasted to Geelong, teams like Collingwood have drafted plenty of sons with loads of potential, only to discover that the sons were a big disappointment. In many respects, the son's failure at Collingwood reflects the Collingwood culture just as the son's success at Geelong reflects the Geelong culture. Collingwood has always been a club relatively lacking in star players. Its grand final victories were built on all-round team effort. About the only thing that Collingwood and Geelong shared in common was that both the team ethic of Collingwood, and the champion ethic of Geelong, seemed to choke on grand final day. After Geelong's victory in 2007, it seems that Collingwood is very much an individual on that one now.
Cameron Ling - A face that only Geelong supporters could love
Roy Morgan research
Geelong Cats supporters are:
2001 when compared to other Australians
2004 when compared to other AFL supporters
2006 - When compared to other AFL supporters
Club song Geelong cats theme song
Geelong doesn't have many rivals. In the past, perhaps this could be attributed to Geelong fans seeing all the Melbourne clubs as guilty of the same big city vices irrespective of whether they were working class Collingwood or elitist Melbourne.
Another explanation for lack of rivalries could be the culture of Geelong fans has always been so wrapped up with singing the praises of their star players that they have no energy left to hate the opposition.
As for fans of the Melbourne clubs, it is difficult for them to hate a team like Geelong because on the whole, Geelong fans are usually a good sort. Geelong fans don't have a chip on their shoulder like those at Collingwood nor the arrogance of those at Carlton.
Melbourne chief executive, Steve Harris, made a slight criticism of Geelong the city when he explained that Melbourne supporters don't rank the town too highly:
Geelong Cats jokes
A Geelong supporter is walking his dog. The dog has only three legs, one eye is missing and the other has a patch over it, half a tail, no teeth, missing fur, bad breath and smells badly. Anyway during this walk the supporter accidentally kicks a VB stubby and 'poof' out pops a Genie. Beautiful she was too. Great breasts, arse and legs - in high heels, short leather skirt and low top... but that's another story. Back to the Geelong supporter. As per usual, the Genie gives him a wish. He thinks for a minute, which in itself is no mean feat for anyone who supports Geelong, and asks the genie if she can fix up his life long friend and companion, the dog, whose name, by the way, was Gary.
The Genie looks at the dog and says, 'Look I might be good, but I'm not that good. Wish again'.
'How about Geelong beating Essendon in a Grand Final?' suggests the Geelong supporter. The Genie just laughs and says, 'Give us another look at that dog....'
|Was this more interesting than a news update of players in a recovery session standing around in the ocean looking cold or of a team 'training without incident'?|