>The Fifth Season

In Australia a unique occurrence happens annually. Its citizens experience a fifth climate season known as Football. It’s a time to behold. Thousands flock to games, families laugh and cry together, and tribal rituals and history are reviewed and made. As a member of an often maligned tribe that hails from Geelong, this season so often promises so much and delivers much less, with the exception of recent years. However, Football season always evokes a sense of excitement and joy. As a primary school kid some of my greatest memories are of kicking the ball in the schoolyard at this time of year. The smell of grass combined with the heat of the sun, fuelled by the desire to imitate those heroes depicted daily in the increased media coverage. It still amazes me that I was able to kick 18 goals in a 40 minute game of 6 a side footy! Growing up in Geelong in the late 80’s early 90’s was a good time to be a footy fan. Multiple Grand Finals and star players was a great excuse to indulge in some merchandise fuelled by 80’s fashion. I had a cat attack slap band, a Robert Scott badge the size of a coffee coaster and a Geelong headband which made me feel like the Karate Kid. One night I was lucky enough to get into the rooms after training because Dad knew Tim Darcy from Table Tennis tournaments. Immersed in the smell of deep heat, sweat and the up market version of Brut that only AFL footballers of the early 90’s could afford, I found myself herded into the middle of the room with a bunch of other kids. It was there that Billy Brownless and Gavin Excel decided that they need more kicking practice, and proceeded to boot the Sherrin into my 7yr old frame. That week when the Cats got up thanks to a haul of goals from the Excel/Brownless combo, I couldn’t help but feel that I had contributed to the win and any long term damage to my reproductive system was worthwhile!

During my teen years, we had to move away from Catland, but as the saying goes ‘you can take the boy out of Geelong that won’t garuntee that they’ll ever win a premiership.’1994 seemed like we were sure to taste the sweet nectar of football success. Nan even managed to score tickets to it for her birthday from her brother. I think it was a bit dodgy because he got the tickets from a guy who had a shoebox full of them! They were standing room only in what was the old Bay 13. In hindsight it was not the best place for 60-something Nanna and her 12 year old grandson to be. But after a couple of beers Nan had them all in their place! The game was great- what we saw of it between the two concrete pillars and drunk swaying head. We left at 3 quarter time as the Eagles stole another part of my childhood.

2007 finally delivered the overdue baby of success. I once had a dream that when Geelong did when its long awaited Premiership Cup, it would be against Port Adelaide. I guess that’s what they were talking about when they said dreams do come true. The last few years have proven to be a dream run, one that Cats folk are soaking up like rain after a drought, knowing that nothing this good lasts forever. For the first time in a long time, we can sing our club song lyrics “We are Geelong, the greatest team of all” without so much a hint of irony. Last year we fell down at the final hurdle after being swooped by some Hawks. This year has been up and down, with more soft-tissue injuries than the steps of nursing home after rain. But we still have a chance, as we are set to play in the finals, that unofficial fifth season that is Melbourne’s Meterological phenomenon. I suspect that as the last light of the Football season fades this year, this great Geelong team will shine once more.