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Geelong Football Club

Geelong Football Club, nicknamed The Cats, is a professional Australian rules football club based in the city of Geelong. Playing in the Australian Football League (AFL), they have won seven VFL/AFL premierships, twenty-five reserves/VFA/VFL premierships and nine McClelland Trophies.. Since 1941 the club has played its home games at Kardinia Park, now known by its sponsored name "Skilled Stadium". The club's traditional guernsey colours are white guernseys with navy blue hoops, navy shorts and navy and white hooped socks.

Formed in 1859, Geelong is the second oldest club in the AFL after Melbourne and one of the oldest football clubs in the world. Along with its AFL team, the club also fields a stand-alone team in the Victoria Football league (VFL).

After competing in the old VFA the club helped form the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897. Between its sixth premiership in 1963 and its seventh in 2007, Geelong gained a reputation for being under-achievers. The club played-off in five Grand Finals during that period, but failed to win any of them. After a 44-year premiership drought, the club claimed its seventh premiership flag with an AFL-record 119-point victory in the 2007 AFL Grand Final.During the late 1990s the club was heavily in debt, but the current board, led by Frank Costa as Club President, has brought it back to a sound financial position.

History

Geelong Football Club was established at a meeting held in the Victoria Hotel on 18th July, 1859. It is the third oldest Australian Rules football club (after the Melbourne Football Club and the Castlemaine Football Club). The club is one of the oldest football clubs in the world. the song is were flying up to ggellong b Geelong played most of its early home games at the Argyle Square, situated between Aberdeen Street and Pakington Street. However, in 1878 the club was evicted from the ground by the private owner who ploughed up the paddock because the club had neglected to pay its rent. Geelong then moved to Corio Oval for the 1878 season - the year the club won its first VFA premiership in only the second VFA season.

The Geelong Football Club was among the most powerful in the VFA (Victorian Football Association), winning seven VFA premierships up to the birth of the VFL (Victorian Football League) in 1897. Geelong was the only non-Melbourne based team at a time when a trip from Geelong to Melbourne involved quite an arduous journey. Notable was Geelong's success in "The Match of the Century" in 1886. This first Grand Final in the VFA between two previously undefeated teams, Geelong and South Melbourne, stimulated unprecedented public interest. It was alleged that saboteurs attempted to destroy one of the special trains carrying Geelong supporters to the match in South Melbourne. The victorious Geelong team were treated to an impromptu public parade in the enemy territory of South Melbourne.

Geelong helped form the new VFL with other foundation clubs, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Melbourne and South Melbourne.

For many years the Geelong Football Club were known as the Pivotonians, after the city's nickname 'The Pivot'. Seagulls was also an earlier nickname. The dark blue and white hooped uniform still worn today represents the blue water of Corio Bay and the white seagulls so numerous in the Bay. Geelong was nicknamed the 'Cats' in 1923 after a run of losses prompted a local cartoonist to suggest that the club needed a black cat to bring it good luck. Soon after, during a match a black cat ventured on to the ground. Geelong won that match, breaking the losing streak. It was decided that cats were indeed good luck. Geelong has ever since been known as the Cats.

Despite dominating in the VFA, Geelong found the premiership harder to win in the VFL. In 1897, the inaugural season of the VFL, no grand final was played, but instead a round-robin finals system. Essendon won all three of its games, while Geelong lost to Essendon during this series. As a result, Geelong finished second in the inaugural season, a good start to the new league.

1920s: Geelong prospers

Geelong finally won its first VFL premiership in 1925, being the first club outside of Melbourne to achieve this.

The VFL/AFL's award for the fairest and best player in a season is named after Charles Brownlow, a Geelong and VFL administrator who died in early 1924. Fittingly, in 1924, the first player to win the award was Geelong's champion, Edward Greeves. Greeves attained a second and third place in votes for the award in later seasons, emphasizing his skill and sportsmanship. In 1925 the Ford Motor Company signed on as a corporate sponsor of the Geelong Football Club. This relationship has persisted to the present (2008). It is claimed that this sponsorship is the longest of its type in the world.

1930s: Succeeding during tough times

Geelong followed up on its 1925 premiership with wins in 1931 and 1937. The 1937 Grand Final is widely regarded as a game of the highest quality, remembered for its long and accurate kicking and high marking. During this Era the Coulter Law discouraged club administrators from poaching players from each others' clubs. For many footballers who were seldom more than semi-professional sportsmen, match payments supplemented Great Depression-hit wages.

1940s: Geelong becomes a war casualty

In 1941, the club moved from Corio Oval to the more centrally located Kardinia Park in South Geelong. Geelong experienced a lean period in the 1940s. World War II wartime restrictions on prohibited travel in 1942 and 1943 even for the purposes of playing football. Geelong had always been particularly subject to what Geoffrey Blainey a notable Australian historian, author of A Game of Our Own, and Geelong supporter, termed the "tyranny of distance". Despite these handicaps, at war's end the club recruited many players who represented the club during its most successful era in the early 1950s.

1950s: Geelong's most successful era

In the 1950s, Geelong flourished. Led by Geelong's greatest coach (officially named at Geelong's team of the century 2000) Reg Hickey, Geelong won the premiership flags of 1951 and 1952.

Geelong won the 1951 premiership under memorable circumstances. Essendon was favoured to win the third of a hat-trick of premierships. However, in the final round of the home and away season Essendon's champion full forward, John Coleman retaliated against Carlton full back, Harry Caspar and was reported and later suspended for four weeks. He therefore was unable to play in the grand final. Bob Davis acknowledges the possibility that had Coleman played, Essendon may well have won, given that Geelong had no true match for him, as Coleman was simply too skilled. Therefore it could be argued that Geelong was handed the 51 flag and were not in fact worthy winners.

To celebrate its good fortune, Geelong buried a toy bomber in the Kardinia Park turf. This comical ceremony was inspired by the rumour that Geelong's premiership players of 1937 had buried a magpie in the middle of the ground after their premiership win over Collingwood that year. Players of note in this golden era include Bob Davis, Leo Turner (father of future star, Michael Turner), Peter Pianto, Fred Flanagan, and Bernie Smith. Bernie Smith's quality was recognised with his win in the 1951 Brownlow Medal. In 1952, Geelong easily defeated Lou Richards' Collingwood team. To celebrate the win, the next day the players buried another dead magpie in the middle of Kardinia Park. In 1953, Collingwood defeated Geelong in the Grand Final.

In 1956, Geelong recruited Billy Goggin, Geelong's greatest rover, who also coached Geelong in the 1980s.

At the end of 1959, Reg Hickey decided to retire as coach, making way for Bob Davis, a star in the 51-52 premierships.

1960s: A licence to entertain

Geelong's most notable recruitment coup ever was the transfer of perhaps the greatest ruckman of all time, Graham "Polly" Farmer from East Perth. At Geelong's first practice match, a crowd of 20,000 attended just to witness his legendary skills.

In 1962, another of Geelong's star players, Alistair Lord won the Brownlow Medal playing in the centre. His twin, Stewart Lord also played with the club and has been credited as the main reason his brother won the award given their similarities in appearance, both played significant roles in the club's premiership win. High expectations of success were somewhat disappointed in 1962. Graham Farmer injured his knee three times during the season, causing him to miss crucial games. However, as Farmer's and Goggin's partnership developed from 1963 onwards, their teamwork at ruck duels inspired admiration and envy. These two players spearheaded the club's next premiership in 1963.

In 1963, Geelong played Hawthorn 4 times. Early in the season the clubs played a draw. However, in the final round of the season, the semi finals and the grand final (the only instance of two teams playing three matches in a row against each other), Geelong defeated John Kennedy's Hawthorn Hawks. Captained by Fred Wooller, Geelong clearly distinguished itself as the team of 1963 with an easy 49 point win. A dead hawk joined two magpies and a toy bomber under the Kardinia Park turf.

Frustratingly for supporters of the Club, 1963 was the last time that Geelong enjoyed premiership success until 2007.

At the beginning of 1964, Geelong recruited John "Sammy" Newman as a ruckman from Geelong Grammar School. In an interview with Lou Richards on Channel 7's World of Sport, Bob Davis predicted that Newman would enjoy a stellar career. Sam Newman played 300 games for Geelong and went on to become a prominent media personality.

Geelong played in finals in every year between 1962 and 1969. Graham Farmer succeeded Fred Wooller as captain in 1965, leading the club until the end of 1967. In 1966, the Geelong Board decided to declare the coaching position open. Applications were sought but Bob Davis declined to reapply. The Board chose Peter Pianto as Davis' replacement. Pianto coached Geelong to the 1967 Grand Final. Geelong narrowly lost this match by nine points to Richmond. Graham Farmer played his 101st and final match for Geelong on this day.

1970s: Out-classed amateurs

During the 1970s Geelong Football Club achieved mediocre results. The club fell behind the progressive clubs of the 1970s, notably Carlton, Richmond, Hawthorn and North Melbourne. Unlike these clubs Geelong recruited poorly and/or could not afford to recruit quality footballers. During the 1970s footballers increasingly came to view the game as a profession rather than a pastime. Richer and more entrepreneurial clubs outbidded clubs like Geelong for talented and dedicated players Coaches Graham Farmer and Rodney Olsson failed to develop successful teams. Geelong finished fourth in the 1976 season. The club won its only final of the 1970s by defeating fifth-placed Footscray. Geelong lost to North Melbourne in the second week of the finals. In 1978 Geelong finished fifth, only to lose to Carlton in the first week of the finals. One of the few noteworthy players was Larry Donohue, who in 1976 kicked over 100 goals to lead the VFL goal kicking. 1978 yielded him 95 goals.

1980s: Adjusting to new realities

During the 1980s Geelong recruited well but underperformed on the field.

In 1980, coached by Billy Goggin, Geelong finished on top of the ladder at the home and away season. Geelong defeated Richmond once during the season but could not do it again in the first week of the finals. Geelong played Collingwood in the Preliminary Final for the right to play Richmond in the Grand Final and lost the match.

In 1981 Geelong's finals campaign inflicted more heartbreak. Geelong beat Collingwood in the Qualifying final but lost to Carlton in the Second Semi-Final. Geelong were beaten by Collingwood by the narrow margin of seven points when they clashed again in the preliminary final.

In 1982 the club collapsed on-field, missing the finals. The board sacked Billy Goggin. Richmond premiership coach, Tom Hafey took over in 1983. However, the club did not improve and under Hafey. Geelong failed to play in the finals during Hafey's tenure. One bright moment during the Hafey years was the recruitment of former Hawthorn player, Gary Ablett from Myrtleford for the 1984 season. In his first season, Ablett won his only best and fairest for the club, an early indication of Ablett's football genius.

The most notable incident for the club in 1985 was when Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews swung his arm at ruck-rover Neville Bruns' jaw and broke it. The incident received huge media coverage. Matthews was charged by police. Although, the law courts did not punish Matthews, the VFL suspended his playing permit for one month. The club also recruited future champion midfielder and dual Brownlow Medallist, Greg Williams and another future Brownlow Medallist and three-time club champion, Paul Couch. Due to a lack of on-field improvement during his tenure as coach, Tom Hafey was sacked at the end of the 1985 season. Hafey was soon afterwards appointed coach of the Sydney Swans. Three players followed him to Sydney: David Bolton, Bernard Toohey, and Greg Williams. Williams decision was to prove a wise one, netting him two Brownlow medals a Premiership medallion and a Norm smith medal.

In 1986 John Devine, a member of the 1963 premiership team was appointed as coach. Under Devine, the club recruited magnificently, signing future club legends Barry Stoneham, Garry Hocking, Mark Bairstow and Billy Brownless. Geelong's recruiters demonstrated that they had adapted to the new system of the player salary cap introduced in 1985 and the AFL draft introduced in 1986 However, the club missed the finals during Devine's tenure. In 1986, as a sign of things to come, Paul Couch won the first of his three club best-and-fairest awards. In 1987 Geelong narrowly missed the finals.

In the pre-season of 1988, in a foretaste of approaching frustrations, Geelong contested Hawthorn for the pre-season cup, the National-Panasonic Cup. Geelong lost by two points despite being in control for much of the match. Geelong underperformed in the main competition, finishing tenth. The Board removed John Devine as coach.

In 1989 Geelong signed North Melbourne champion Malcolm Blight to coach the club. Blight's new approach had immediate results. Geelong once again contested the National-Panasonic pre-season Grand Final, this time against Melbourne. The Cats lost once again.

Adapting quickly to Blight's coaching philosophy, Geelong kicked mammoth scores and during the 1989 season. It is the first and only club so far to win by 100 points for three weeks in a row, defeating lowly clubs Richmond, St Kilda and the Brisbane Bears. Gavin Exell had a productive season, kicking 61 goals during the home-and-away season, narrowly pipping team-mate Gary Ablett, who kicked 60.

Ablett's notable goalkicking feats of the year included a bag of 14 goals against Richmond, 10 against Brisbane and 7 against Collingwood (where he amassed 38 possessions on the wing in the wet). In this match against Collingwood, Gary Ablett also kicked the goal of the year.

However, the Gary Ablett show had not even started yet. Geelong finished third at the completion of the home-and-away season and met Essendon in the Qualifying Final in the first week. Geelong's lack of finals experience was telling as Essendon ended a 3-year losing streak to Geelong, thrashing them by 76 points. Gary Ablett and Shane Hamilton each kicked 3 goals each in this match.

Geelong then met Melbourne in the semifinals. The previous week, Essendon had assigned "taggers" to Geelong's star midfielders, Paul Couch and Mark Bairstow to great effect, nullifying both. Melbourne coach John Northey predictably did the same. However, his move was so predictable that Malcolm Blight benched both Couch and Bairstow for the first quarter, completely throwing Melbourne's plans into disarray. The result saw Geelong easily beat Melbourne by over 10 goals. Gary Ablett kicked 7 goals in an awesome display, as well as taking one of the marks of the year over Melbourne's Steven Febey.

The preliminary final in the 3rd week saw a rematch between Geelong and Essendon at VFL Park. And early on, it appeared that Essendon would repeat their win of two weeks prior. However, Geelong soon got back on track and began to kick goals at will. Gary Ablett continued his awesome form, kicking 8 goals and constructing many more. The result saw Geelong cause a 170 point turnaround from a fortnight ago, to comprehensively defeat Essendon by a mammoth 94 points, to march into the club's first Grand Final since 1967.

The Grand Final proved to be an epic battle. At the opening bounce, Mark Yeates, retaliating to an incident incurred by Dermott Brereton in round 6, bumped off Brereton to try and take the match winner out of the game in what must be argued was a cowardly hit, breaking Brereton's ribs. During this period, Ablett had managed to mark and kick the opening goal of the match. Brereton was ordered off the ground, but refused and instead rested in the pocket. Brereton took a mark shortly after and goaled, leading Hawthorn to a 40 point quarter time break. Hawthorn coach Alan Jeans commented at the time that Breretons courage was "inspirational".

The second and third quarters were won by Geelong by 2 and 1 point respectively. The final quarter proved frantic, as Geelong managed to get within 6 points of the tiring and wounded Hawks, before the siren sounded. Gary Ablett was awarded the Norm Smith Medal (for a best on ground performance which he ungratefully accepted- only the 2nd player to that stage to win the medal in a losing team at that point in time (Collingwood's Nathan Buckley won in 2003, and West Coast's Chris Judd won in 2005) in this match for his outstanding performance in kicking 9 goals 1 behind to equal Collingwood's Gordon Coventry’s goalkicking record in a grand final. His 2nd quarter goal and 3rd quarter marks were two of his notable highlights of his day.

To cap a remarkable season, Paul Couch won the Brownlow Medal by 2 votes from Hawthorn's John Platten even though Mark Bairstow had probably had a better season. The club looked forward to a bright season in 1990.

1990s: Not quite good enough

The decade of the 1990s was another era of disappointed expections. By the end of the 1990s Geelong Football Club was in crisis, deep in debt and with a depleted player list.

Geelong failed in 1990 to reproduce the exciting brand of attacking football of 1989. Season 1991 started ominously. On the eve of the season, Gary Ablett retired for personal reasons. Nevertheless, Geelong won some games by very large margins. Ablett returned mid-season to the club. The club finished third at the end of the home and away. The final against 4th placed St Kilda was a memorable one. Tony Lockett kicked nine goals for St Kilda to three-quarter time. However, Barry Stoneham was moved onto Lockett and held him goalless for the final quarter. Billy Brownless, kicked eight goals. The Cats managed to win by seven points. Ablett was suspended for elbowing St Kilda's Nathan Burke, and missed the rest of the season due to suspension.

Over the next two weeks, Geelong met Hawthorn and the West Coast Eagles, both losses for the club. Consistent with the close finish of 1989, Hawthorn stole the match to win by two points. The loss against the Eagles was by a little more lop-sided. Once again, Geelong fell short.

In 1992 Geelong returned to the spectacular form of three seasons previous. Against the hapless Brisbane Bears at Carrara the club kicked a VFL/AFL record score of 37 goals 17 behinds (239 points). This record score still stands. Gary Ablett snr. and Billy Brownless both kicked more than 70 goals for the season to form a potent forward-line combination. Geelong finished the regular season on top of the ladder, eclipsing their previous record for total points scored in a home-and-away season (2916 in 1989) and becoming the first team to score over 3000 points in a home-and-away season.

Yet despite two lop-sided victories against the Footscray Bulldogs, Geelong proved too be unable to counter the power of the West Coast Eagles. In the Grand Final the Cats got off to a wonderful start, at one stage during the second quarter leading by five goals. However, in the second half West Coast's Peter Matera ran riot, booting five goals and earning himself the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground. The Perth based West Coast won by 28 points to take the first premiership won by a non-Victorian club.

In 1993 the Geelong once again underachieved as Malcolm Blight experimented with more defensive tactics. For most of the season on-field performances were lacklustre as the players struggled to adapt. It was not until late in the season when Geelong reverted to its all-out attacking style of play. Several experienced players urged Blight to revert to Geelong's customary attacking style of play. Blight agreed and Geelong began to play like champions again. Frustratingly, Geelong narrowly missed the finals on percentage.

In 1993 Blight decided to play Gary Ablett at full-forward permanently. The move paid handsome dividends, as Ablett kicked the second fastest century of goals in VFL/AFL history. By the end of the season he amassed 124 goals, winning his first John Coleman Medal for being the leading goalkicker in the league during the Home and Away Season. Ablett's most notable performances of this year included 7 goals against Collingwood, 11 against Melbourne, 14 against Essendon and 10 against the Adelaide Crows - all in losing sides. Tallies of 8 goals against North Melbourne, 10 against Brisbane and 12 against his favourite victim, Richmond, in winning sides.

1994 proved to be a hard year for the club. The club had a good home-and-away season to finish fourth. Gary Ablett topped the goalkicking for the year easily, kicking 129 goals (including the finals) and winning his second consecutive John Coleman Medal. The club met fifth placed Footscray in the first week of the finals. The match proved a nailbiter, with an after-the-siren kick and goal by Billy Brownless giving the club a five-point win. A week later Geelong had no hope of beating Carlton, who had finished 2nd after the home and away season, given that their three best midfielders; Garry Hocking, Paul Couch and Mark Bairstow were not playing through injury. However, with several young players and second-tier midfielders, along with six goals from Gary Ablett, Geelong defeated Carlton by 33 points. Geelong met North Melbourne in the Preliminary Final in a match which proved even more nailbiting than their match with Footscray 2 weeks prior. North Melbourne started well, but Geelong dominated the second and third quarters to lead by six goals in the third quarter. A fine feat given that Geelong's target all season, Gary Ablett was being beaten by North Melbourne's full back, Michael Martyn. However, North Melbourne came back strongly in the last quarter and took the lead late in the match. However, Geelong scored a behind to level the scores. With 25 seconds left and a boundary throw-in, the ball came to ground and Michael Martyn cleared, only for the ball to be marked by Leigh Colbert. Colbert then kicked long, where ruckman John Barnes dropped the mark, allowing Leigh Tudor, a former North Melbourne player to swoop, and kick the ball over Martyn's head to land in the hand of Gary Ablett. As Ablett walked back to take his kick, the siren went, and Ablett kicked the winning goal, propelling Geelong to its third Grand Final in seven years. Geelong once again played West Coast for the premiership. Unlike two seasons ago, Geelong proved no match against an Eagles outfit superior to its 1992 premiership team, losing by 80 points. Billy Brownless stood out with a fantastic mark in the second quarter, as well as four goals. Malcolm Blight, dispirited by three Grand Final losses under his tenure, announced his resignation. His assistant Gary Ayres took over the job. Ayres immediately took action, sacking both Steven Hocking (on 199 games) and former captain Mark Bairstow. 1994 saw another best-and-fairest win to Garry Hocking, who also won 20 votes in the Brownlow Medal to finish third to eventual winner Greg Williams on 30 votes and Peter Matera on 28 votes.

1995 saw the club improve. The club was highly consistent, its biggest losing margin being less than 20 points, and never losing two matches in a row - the only club to do so for the year. The club finished second on the ladder to Carlton. Gary Ablett once again won the Coleman Medal and kick over 100 goals for the third year in a row - one of very few to do so. To this day, he remains the only player to win three consecutive Coleman medals. However, prior to the medals birth in the 1970s, players such as Dick Lee, Gordon Coventry and Coleman himself led the goalkicking for many seasons straight in their own eras. In the finals the club met 7th placed Footscray once again, without Gary Ablett. Brownless would dominate, with Geelong kicking a record first quarter score to blitz the Bulldogs. The result saw a ten goal win. Due to Geelong's top two placing, the club had a week's break for the second week of the finals following their win. In the third week, Geelong met Richmond, who were playing in their first finals series for 13 years. The result was long foreseeable, with a 78 point win. For the second consecutive season and for the 4th time in 7 years, Geelong played for the premiership against Carlton, who had only lost two games for the year. The match was hard to tip, as many saw Geelong a definite chance given that Carlton's two losses were in consecutive weeks to lowly clubs St Kilda and Sydney, both by at least ten goals. The two sides met once during the year, which saw Carlton win by two points. For this reason, Geelong was tipped to win, coinciding with Geelong's last Premiership Coach, Bob Davis being asked to present the winning team with their medallions as well as the premiership cup. Geelong however cracked under pressure and was thrashed by 61 points, playing its worst game for the entire season. Gary Ablett played his worst game for years, blanketed by Carlton's Stephen Silvagni. To add insult to injury, former Geelong player Greg Williams, now a superstar at Carlton, was named best on ground with his five goals. A total waste of a year where like 1992, the club should have been celebrating, not lamenting a wasted season. A notable rookie of this year would be Brenton Sanderson, who would play over 200 games by the end of career, retiring at the end of 2005, and be recognised with selection into the Geelong Hall of Fame. The best and fairest was won by Paul Couch, who narrowly missed out on winning his second Brownlow Medal.

In 1996 the club would experience an unsuccessful year, finishing seventh at the end of the Home and Away Season. Gary Ablett would be suspended for four weeks after round 2, which resulted in a rapid decline in his quality. He would kick his 1000th career goal against Fremantle. The cats would meet eventual premier, North Melbourne in the first week of the finals, which saw North win by over 10 goals. Garry Hocking would once again win the best and fairest award, and miss out on the Brownlow Medal by a vote in the process. A notable recruit would be Steven King, standing at over two metres tall.

In 1997 Geelong faced a season with no dependence on ageing superstars, Paul Couch and Gary Ablett. By mid season, Couch would retire on 259 games. Gary Ablett would not play a senior game ever again for the club after injuring his knee in the reserves. The club would start the season well, challenging Carlton to the 1997 pre-season premiership, the Ansett Australia Cup. However, identically to 1995, Geelong capitulated, allowing Carlton another piece of silverware. The club finished second on the ladder. The club met North Melbourne in a "home" final at the MCG at Night. North Melbourne, on its actual home ground beat Geelong by 18 points. Geelong then travelled to Adelaide and looked good. However, a decision involving a fantastic mark to Leigh Colbert may have turned the game as the mark wasn't paid; Geelong destabilised and consequently, lost the game by eight points, exiting in a similar fashion to 1980 and 1981 by losing both finals. However, from 1997 onwards, beginning with the recruitment of Matthew Scarlett, son of champion full-back John Scarlett, Geelong took full advantage of the Father-Son Rule. This concession allowed sons of ex-players to nominate for their fathers' clubs, thus exempting them from being chosen by any other club in the national draft. Thus Geelong's strong connection with its own history and the local community were preserved.

1998 was a season best forgotten. The club finished 12th, its lowest finish for over 40 years. A notable recruit for Geelong came in the form of Matthew Scarlett, son of former player, John.

In 1999 the club won five games straight to open. However, the club then lost its next 9 to effectively eliminate any hope of finals football. The roller-coaster season saw Gary Ayres quit his job as coach of Geelong to take the job at Adelaide, which ironically was available after Malcolm Blight quit, almost identical to when Ayres took over Geelong in 1995. Mark Thompson got the job to coach. At the end of this season, North Melbourne premiership player, Cameron Mooney was forced to leave the Kangaroos for administrative purposes and ended up at Geelong.

2000s: Finding a way to succeed

2000: Promising signs

Season 2000 started well, with Geelong winning its first three matches. By the end of the home and away season Geelong finished fifth and met eighth placed Hawthorn in the first finals match ever played at Telstra Dome (then known as Colonial Stadium), the AFL's state-of-the-art facility. Hawthorn once again inflicted a narrow defeat on Geelong, winning by nine points. Barry Stoneham announced his retirement after this game, ending a magnificent career spanning over 240 games. He remains at the club currently as a runner.

2001 – 2003: Recruitment of the stars

2001-2003 saw a lean period for the club where finals were not realised for three years - finishing twelfth, ninth and twelfth respectively. However, during this time the club recruited well. Current stars such as Paul Chapman, Gary Ablett, Jr., Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly and Joel Corey were notable recruits who have provided the club with the best chance to win the premiership for a decade. Veteran Brenton Sanderson won the Best and fairest in 2001, Steven King in 2002 (who was in that year appointed club captain) and Matthew Scarlett in 2003.

2004: Return to finals

In 2004 Geelong returned to the winners list. The club challenged for the pre-season premiership (known as the Wizard Home Loans Cup), where they met St Kilda, a club at a similar developmental stage to Geelong, where both teams faced the season with optimism and excitement for the first time in many years. Geelong led for much of the match, but St Kilda finished strongly to win by 20 points. The season proved fruitful as the club finished fourth at the end of the Home and Away season. The club met eventual premier, Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium/Football Park in Adelaide, historically Geelong's worst ground in terms of wins. Port reaffirmed their superiority at the venue to win by 55 points. This game did not start a new rivalry between these two clubs, but some rivalry between the clubs was started three seasons later. Geelong soldiered on however and met Essendon at the MCG, winning by ten points despite leading by over six goals at three quarter time. Geelong then met Brisbane, the premiers of 2001-2003. The Cats dominated the first half but it was clear the club lacked a target up forward. In the second half, Brisbane took control and steadied enough to win by a small margin of nine points. Post season, Geelong finally managed to entice shy Modewarre player and son of the club's greatest player, Nathan Ablett to play AFL football for Geelong. However, the demand placed on him for 2005 was minimal as the club considered itself fortunate to have a player of such ability. Another major signing was disgruntled Richmond big-man Brad Ottens, recruited to counter Geelong's lack of forward line height. Cameron Ling capped off a fine season by winning his first best and fairest after finishing runner up in the previous two counts.

2005: Finals heartbreak

2005 was a year full of optimism where the club had a successful 2004 campaign to work on. The club started very well, before hitting a slump mid-season as injuries took their toll. This necessitated the debut of Nathan Ablett, who played his first game in a narrow loss to Melbourne. His two goals for the club that day excited fans and provided hope that he would be good enough. Nathan showed late in the season against West Coast that indeed he could play, with 4 goals in a huge win. By the end of the season, Geelong finished fifth and played eighth placed Melbourne. Geelong thrashed Melbourne by 55 points in a match remembered for Steven King's attempted kick of the ball in mid air, accidentally making contact with Melbourne ruckman Jeff White, smashing his face, which required surgery. The next week the club met Sydney at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) where the Cats led for the majority of the match. A four goal lead at three quarter time in a low scoring match saw Geelong in a strong position. A stunning final term performance by Sydney's Nick Davis that saw him kick four goals including the winning snap three seconds before the siren denied Geelong victory. Sydney then become the 2005 Premiers. This was Brenton Sanderson's final game. Joel Corey won his first best and fairest.

2006: Pre-season success, but season failure

Season 2006 began promisingly, but ended with criticism by club members of the performance of the club. Geelong beat Adelaide to claim the pre-season National Australia Bank Cup. Big wins at home against the Brisbane Lions and Kangaroos in the first two rounds fuelled optimism. However, Geelong began to underperform, losing some close encounters and suffering some humiliating defeats. In the final game of the year, the Cats were soundly beaten by Hawthorn for the second time. Geelong finished tenth on the ladder with ten wins and a draw. Responding to member anger, the Board ordered a comprehensive review of all aspects of the administration of the club and of the club's personnel. Coach Mark Thompson was widely perceived to be at risk. However, the review accepted that Thompson should continue as coach. The Board opted for stability over the uncertainty of radical personnel change.

2006 NAB Cup Grand Final SG G B Total
Adelaide 1 10 15 84
Geelong 3 10 5 92
Venue: AAMI Stadium, Adelaide Crowd: 30,707

2007: Finally, the drought ends

Season 2007 was the most successful in the history of the club. Yet, early mixed results provided few clues of Geelong's domination of the competition. After an unexpected home loss to the Kangaroos, player Paul Chapman made public comment about the unprofessional attitude of some of his team mates Thereafter, Geelong lost only one game for the rest of the season. Geelong unleashed a dynamic style of play dubbed "tsunami football" by critic and commentator Robert Walls Geelong's streak of fifteen wins was ended by second-placed Port Adelaide with a victory-snatching goal in the final three seconds. Geelong ended the season three games clear on top of the ladder. In the 2nd Qualifying final, Geelong defeated the Kangaroos by 106 points, their second greatest winning margin against the Roos and their third biggest win in the finals. Geelong then played Collingwood before a crowd of 98,002. Geelong won an intense struggle by five points.

Geelong defeated Port Adelaide in the 2007 AFL Grand Final, with a record breaking margin of 119 points, 24-19-163 to 6-8-44, the largest-ever winning margin in a VFL/AFL Grand Final. Steve Johnson won the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground, while Cameron Mooney was the leading goalscorer with five goals.

2007 Toyota AFL Grand Final G B Total
Geelong 24 19 163
Port Adelaide 6 8 44
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground Crowd: 97,302

2008: Dominance, but no glory

Geelong completely dominated the home and away season and finished 4 games and percentage clear on top of the ladder. It was one of the most dominant seasons of all time in which they won 21 out of the 22 games & finished with a percentage of 161.84(The only loss was to Collingwood in round 9 by 86 points). With the team widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time the Cats were almost unbackable favourites to win the 2008 AFL premiership.They thrashed St Kilda in the first qualifying final 17.17(119) to 8.13(61) & then had to battle hard against a spirted Western Bulldogs side in the Preliminary Final eventually coming out on top 12.11(83) to 7.12(54). The win secured the Cats a Grand Final a berth against the Hawthorn Hawks..

Geelong were defeated in the Grand Final by Hawthorn in front of an attendance of 100,012 people. Despite their domination in the midfield Geelong failed to cope with the immense pressure from the Hawks which inturn caused them to panic and make many uncharacteristic errors, most notbably poor kicking for goal (Cameron Mooney hang your head in shame) & decision making in the forward line.Geelong's mental strength was exposed and the Hawks deservedly won their first premiership since 1991 by 26 points, and in the process ruined Geelong's quest for back-to-back flags for the first time since 1951-1952.

2008 Toyota AFL Grand Final G B Total
Geelong 11 23 89
Hawthorn 18 7 115
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground Crowd: 100,012

Identity

Guernsey and colours

This is the current 2008 jumper design. From 2007 a clash jumper was introduced.

The Geelong Football Club has worn its blue and white hoops since its first game, although the thickness of the hoops has changed over the years.

Club song

"We Are Geelong" is the song sung after a game won by the Geelong Football Club. It is sung to the tune of "Toreador" from Carmen. The lyrics were written by former premiership player John Watts. Only the first verse is used when played at matches, and when sung by the team after a victory.

Lyrics
We are Geelong, the greatest team of all
We are Geelong; we’re always on the ball
We play the game as it should be played
At home or far away
Our banners fly high, from dawn to dark
Down at Kardinia Park

So! Stand up and fight, remember our tradition
Stand up and fight, it’s always our ambition
Throughout the game to fight with all our might
Because we’re the mighty blue and white
And when the ball is bounced, to the final bell
Stand up and fight like hell

Honours

Team Awards

VFL/AFL: 7 (1925, 1931, 1937, 1951, 1952, 1963, 2007)
Reserves: 15 (1923, 1924, 1930, 1937, 1938, 1948, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1982)
Under 19s: 1 (1962)
VFA/VFL: 9 (1878, 1879, 1880, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 2002, 2007)

Night Series: 1 (1961)
Pre-Season: 1 (2006}

Individual awards

Players

Current playing list

Playing list for 2008 season:

Notable players

Membership

Season Members Finishing position Average Home Crowd

1984 7709 6th

1985 7718 6th

1986 6985 9th

1987 6981 6th

1988 9667 9th

1989 7760 3rd

1990 15,087 10th

1991 11,356 3rd 27,429
1992 13,535 2nd 36,413
1993 15,500 7th 28,497
1994 14,312 4th 37,224
1995 15,922 2nd 36,148
1996 17,346 7th 36,939
1997 18,858 2nd 33,412
1998 19,971 12th 32,594
1999 21,032 11th 27,701
2000 25,595 5th 31,514
2001 25,420 12th 29,825
2002 23,756 9th 30,284
2003 24,017 12th 28,359
2004 25,021 4th 31,991
2005 30,821 5th 35,815
2006 32,290 10th 32,396
2007 30,169 1st 41,399
2008 36,850 2nd

References

External links

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