BigFooty News runs a quick weekly wrap-up of the Victorian Football League.
Finals Week 4
Port Melbourne 11.9 (75) defeated by Geelong Cats 14.24 (108)
Etihad Stadium, 2:30PM Sunday 23 September
The time had finally come. Etihad Stadium was to host the 2012 VFL Grand Final between the two best sides in the competition; Port Melbourne and Geelong.
Port had finished second on the ladder and were the defending champions of the league. They were aiming to go back-to-back for the first time 1980-82, when they won the top prize three times on the trot. Under the tutelage of Gary Ayres and under the captaincy of inspirational skipper John Baird the Borough were rightly placed as favourites, despite lacking the AFL experience as their opponents. They had also beaten the third-placed Geelong in the qualifying final during the first week of the finals, installing more hope into this great side.
Geelong were the surprise packets of the VFL season. The Cats finished ninth in the 2011 season and therefore missed out on the finals. In the off season they recruited well and installed former Essendon coach Matthew Knights into their top position. They benefited from their senior side trialling younger players during the 2012 season, with the older stars dropping down and pitting it against the inexperienced players from other sides. Geelong were aiming for their first VFL flag since 2007, when they defeated Sandringham at Princes Park.
Both clubs have previously met in a VFL Grand Final before. The 2002 VFL Grand Final was played at Princes Park in Carlton, with a young Geelong side defeating Port Melbourne in a tight affair. That day, the Cats side had future champions in Gary Ablett Jr, James Kelly, Paul Chapman, Steve Johnson and Jimmy Bartel, all of whom played in Geelong’s AFL premiership in 2007. Port Melbourne also had their fair share of future superstars with Ryan O’Keefe, Luke Ablett, Amon Buchanan and Adam Schnieder, who all played in Sydney’s drought breaking 2005 AFL premiership win.
It was a sunny day outside but the roof was closed at Etihad Stadium. It was a tense atmosphere, with the curtain-raiser TAC Cup Grand Final going down to only one-point, Oakleigh taking home the chocolates. This match started like a grand final should; hard and tough. Geelong kicked the first two goals of the match, but they came as a result of Port Melbourne turnovers. It was clangers galore early on before the game settled. Port Melbourne then kicked the next four goals, silencing the Geelong supporters, who were out in force. The Cats snatched a goal just before the siren rang against the flow to get the momentum heading into the break. It was the Borough, however, that led at the first change.
The second quarter could not have been anymore different from the first. The in tight and contested ball in the first term turned into free flowing and counter attacking footy in the second. Geelong once again kicked the first goal of the term before Port Melbourne hit back with two. Geelong then quickly slammed home two of their own before the Borough regained the ascedancy right before the main interval with a goal. Port went into the break with a two-point lead over an innacurate Geelong line-up.
In the third term everything lifted. The pressure put on by both sides was immense and unlike the previous quarter, no one could break away. The crowd started to get into the contest, which helped Geelong much more of course and this brought the intensity up a notch. The Cats kicked the first two goals of the quarter before it went goal for goal for the rest of the term. Going into the final break, Geelong led by one goal. It was still anybodies game to win.
We were set for a brilliant last term. Port’s spearhead Dean Galea kicked the first goal only a few minutes into the quarter and it looked as though Port Melbourne might run away with the match. The momentum swung however and Geelong were dominating the match, however it wasn’t showing on the scoreboard. They eventually did kick a goal and from then on the Cats ran away with the match to win by 33 points, an historical occasion for the coach and the club.
Young star George Horlin-Smith was judged the best player on the ground by the media and won the Norm Goss Medal. Frosty Miller Medallist Dean Galea was the leading goalkicker for the day, kicking four goals in a losing side. The crowd was then let onto the arena to see Cats captain Troy Selwood, former Brisbane Lion and brother of AFL captain Joel, and Matthew Knights hold aloft the VFL Premiership Cup for 2012.
Leading goalkickers: Dean Galea (PM) 4, Shane Kersten (GC) 3, Mitch Brown (GC) George Burbury (GC) Heath O’Farrell (PM) Will Burstin (PM) 2.
Votes: 3. George Horlin-Smith (GC), 2. Josh Sciopione (PM), 1. Simon Hogan (GC).
Summary: That’s it for season 2012 in the Victorian Football League, a very successful season. Congratulations to Geelong for winning the premiership and bring on season 2013.
The VFL was formed as the VFA in 1877 and was renamed the former in 1995. It took on its current status in 2000, as the reserves league to the Victorian AFL clubs, as well as maintaining its traditional clubs and still creating a pathway for the best local players.